Gov: Congress Lawmaking Review

The lawmaking process in Congress is fairly straightforward. It is a struggle involving many traditions, rules, and competing interests. Most measures that actually becomes law often bears little resemblance to the bill that was first introduced.

  • Standing committees and their subcommittees do most of the work of Congress. Directed by powerful committee chairs, these committees study, revise, and sometimes completely rewrite bills.
  • The majority party leaders in each chamber direct the flow of bills through the process of debate, amendment, and voting.
  • The House of Representatives, because of its large size, restricts debate. The Senate allows unlimited debate.
  • Before a bill goes to the president, both chambers must pass it in identical form.
  • The president can choose to sign a bill into law or veto it. To save a vetoed bill, both chambers of Congress must pass it again, but this time by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting.



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