Gov: Bill Becomes a Law



Private bills and public bills are introduced in Congress. Private bills deal with individual people or places, often involving claims against the government. Public bills deal with general matters and apply to the entire nation, such as tax cuts, gun control, and civil rights. Congress can also pass resolutions to make policy. A simple resolution covers matters affecting only one house of Congress and is passed by that house alone. It does not have the force of law. A joint resolution is passed in the same form by both houses and must be signed by the president to become law. Concurrent resolutions cover matters in both houses, and do not become law.

Earmarks are a way that members of Congress can specify that some part of a funding bill will go toward a certain purpose. Bills sometimes have riders attached, which are provisions on subjects other than the one covered in the bill.

After a bill is introduced, it is sent to the committees that deal with the subject. If a committee decides to act on a bill, it holds hearings. After the hearings are over, the committee meets in a markup session to decide what changes to make to the bill. After all the changes have been made, the committee votes either to kill the bill or to report it to the House or Senate for action. The bill is then debated on the floor, followed by a vote. To become law, a bill must pass both houses of Congress in identical form. A conference committee works out any differences between versions of the same bill. Then the bill is sent to the president, who signs it into law or rejects it with a veto. Congress can override a president’s veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses.

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