In the US, the ability to create legislation resides with Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The first step in creating a law is to have an idea for a law. The idea can come from anyone, including ordinary citizens. Once drafted, the bill is introduced to one of the chambers of Congress by a Representative or Senator who sponsors it while supporting members are called co-sponsors (Connors, 2018). A clerk allocates the introduced bills a legislative number before referring it to a committee. The committee examines if Congress can pass the bill. The committee can decide to hold hearings to understand the bill. Otherwise, the bill is referred to a subcommittee to be studied and voted back to the committee (Connors, 2018). If not acted on, the bill will be regarded as ‘dead.’
The committee convenes to ‘mark up’ the proposed bill. They amend and change the bill before reporting it to the ‘floor’ in a process referred to as ‘ordering a bill reported.’ However, if the committee votes against the bill, it ‘dies.’ When on the ‘floor,’ the legislators will debate, modify and vote to pass or defeat it. When the bill passes on one chamber of Congress, it will go to the other chamber and go through a similar procedure. If there are differences between the two bill versions, Congress forms a conference committee to resolve the difference. The committee prepares the conference report and presents it to the chamber to approve it through voting (Connors, 2018). If they are not able to reach an agreement, it dies.
When approved by both chambers, the bill is forwarded to the president, who either endorses the proposal and enacts it to become a constitution or opposes the bill and becomes a veto. If the head of state takes no action while the chamber is in adjournment, the bill becomes a ‘pocket veto.’ Congress can override a veto and make the bill a law if both chambers pass the bill by a two-thirds majority. In an effort to check the legislation process, the judicial branch can declare laws that are passed by Congress unconstitutional in a procedure referred to as judicial review (Connors, 2018). Duignan and DeCarlo (2018) recorded that the first case the judiciary claimed a law unconstitutional was the Marbury v. Madison case in 1803. The three government branches work in uniform to run the country.
Connors, K. (2018). A look at your government: How does a bill become a law? Gareth Stevens Publishing.
Duignan, B., & DeCarlo, C. (Eds.). (2018). The judicial branch: Evaluating and interpreting laws. The Rosen Publishing Group.