How a Bill Becomes Law John Jones State University Introduction Every bill introduced before Congress is important to somebody, ranging from losing Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan’s 2000 attempt to rename a Wisconsin Post Office after the late Les Aspin (Franke-Ruta, 2012) to the infamous House Resolution (H.R.) 3200, which eventually became the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009…
However, not every bill becomes a law. So the question is how exactly a bill becomes a law, from an idea in somebody’s head to the President of the United States enacting the law by a stroke of his pen. Discussion Many people who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s remember the humorous “I’m Just a Bill” segment from Schoolhouse Rock with some affection. Nevertheless, although its aim was the education of elementary school children, the skit did a fairly accurate description of the bill-to-law process: I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law (Schoolhouse, 2012). The producers might have tried to make the show into a primetime special, for many adults do not have any idea how a bill becomes a law in this country either. First a person, be they private citizen or politician, has an idea for a law that would benefit the majority. The President can issue a temporary proclamation (such as sending the military to fight) but even he has to ask a sympathetic member of Congress to introduce the bill. Under the United States Constitution, either house of the Congress (Senate or House of Representatives) can introduce the bill. ...
This is especially true if the idea is brought forth by means of a petition, one hundred or more people. Therefore, maybe looking at Ryan’s bill about the Post Office building would provide a good description of the process. On January 24, 2000 HR 4241, “To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1818 Milton Avenue in Janesville, Wisconsin as the Les Aspin Post Office Building” was introduced to the 106th Congress. Approximately two months later, Ryan and most of his Wisconsin colleagues formally introduced HR 4241 as a bill on April 11. From there, he House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform received it; and the bill passed rather quickly through that committee. Aspin was a well-respected member of Congress for many years, as well as Clinton’s Secretary of Defense. The full House voted on the bill on June 6, when it passed overwhelmingly, 378-6. The next day, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs received the bill, where it became S. 2458. After only two weeks, the entire Senate likewise voted on the bill, again passing it with a large margin. The Executive Office took delivery of the bill on June 28 for Presidential consideration and President Clinton signed it into law on July 6, 2000 (GovTrack, 2012). From Resolution to law the bill took less than six months but they can sometimes linger for months or even years, especially particularly touchy subjects such as health care. Because laymen do sometimes not understand the technical language and needs, it might be best if the health care professional seeks a fellow HCP in Congress to ask for legislation. There are several nurses in the House, including Karen Bass of California and Eddie Johnson of Texas. Sixteen doctors include John Fleming ...
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If the bill is favored by a majority of members in both the houses of Congress, then it is sent to the President for ratification. The President can either assent or decline it using his veto power. In the case of the latter, the houses of Congress can take it up again and if it manages to pass with two-thirds majority, then the bill automatically qualifies into a law with or without the President's approval.
The animated script did not inform viewers that there are many reasons a bill does not become a law. “I’m Just a Bill” did not and form viewers of what happens if there is a tie in the Senate. If there is a tie in the Senate the president of the Senate, who is the vice president of the United States decides the final vote.
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