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Introduction-- Most new legislation begins with the constituent.  Although any one can write a bill, including the President, only a member of Congress can introduce it, thus becoming the sponsor.  The legislation becomes official once it assigned a number (HR signifies a House bill, S a Senate bill) and is printed in the Congressional Record by the Government Printing Office      

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Committee Referral-- Once numbered, the bill is then referred to a House or Senate Committee designated to oversee the subject of the bill.

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Subcommittee Review-- The Committee gives the bill to a subcommittee that frequently holds hearings.   Government officials, associations, or a citizen with knowledge of the subject are called to testify in support or against the bill.

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Mark Up-- After hearing the testimony, the subcommittee may decide to recommend the bill back to the full committee for approval or may kill the bill.  The subcommittee may make 'mark-ups', or changes to the bill, as they see fit.

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Reporting a Bill-- After hearing the subcommittee's report, the full committee can either hold more hearings on the matter or vote as to whether the bill should be brought before the House or Senate.   If they 'order the bill reported', it is placed on the House or Senate calendar for consideration.  Otherwise, the bill dies.

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Publications of Reported Bill-- Once the bill has been reported, a written report is published.  This report contains the purpose of the legislation, its impact on existing laws, and any budgetary ramifications that it may have.

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Scheduling of Floor Action/Debate-- The bill is placed on the calendar to be debated in front of the entire House or Senate.  When the scheduled day arrives, the bill is debated according to the rules of the Chamber.

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Voting-- After debate and approval of any amendments to the bill, the full membership will vote for or against the measure.

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Referral to Other Chamber--  To have a chance at becoming law, both Chambers of Congress must pass the legislation.  If the other half hasn't done so, they must start the process from the initial steps for the bill to proceed.  Often, only one chamber will pass part of a legislation, effectively killing the bill.

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Conference Committee-- Once both Chambers pass similar bills,  (No, they do not have to be exactly the same) the bill is placed before the Conference Committee, where certain members from both chambers meet to reconcile any differences between the two bills.  The full House and Senate must then approve the Conference Report.

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Sending it to the President-- After the bill is approved, it is sent to the president, where he can either sign the bill--at which point it becomes a Public Law (PL)-- or he can Veto the bill, potentially killing the bill.

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Overriding the Veto-- If the president vetoes a bill, Congress has the Constitutional authority to override the President.  If two-thirds of both chambers vote to approve the bill, the bill becomes Public Law

 

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