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How Laws Are Made and How to Research Them

Xổ số miền bắc 2Learn how laws, regulations, and executive orders are made and how to look them up.

Infographic: How a Bill Becomes a Law

Learn how a bill becomes a law with this easy to read infographic. Use this lesson plan with your class.

Xổ số miền bắc 2

How a Bill Becomes a Law infographic summary.
  • 1. Every Law Starts With an Idea

    That idea can come from anyone, even you! Contact your elected officials to share your idea. If they want to try to make a law, they write a bill.

    2. The Bill is Introduced

    When Congress is in session, the Primary Sponsor introduces the bill by placing it in a wooden box called "the hopper.”

    Here, the bill is assigned a legislative number before the Speaker of the House sends it to a committee.

    3. The Bill Goes to Committee

    A small group meets to talk about what they like and don’t like, suggests changes to the bill, and votes to accept or reject the changes, before sending the bill to:

    The House floor for debate or a subcommittee for further research.

    4. Congress Debates and Votes

    Xổ số miền bắc 2Members of the House and Senate can now debate the bill and propose amendments before voting.

    Did you know?

    The House uses an electronic voting system while the Senate typically votes by voice, saying “yay” or “nay.”

    5. Presidential Action

    When the bill reaches the President, he or she can: APPROVE and PASS. The President signs and approves the bill. The bill is law.

    The President can also:

    • Veto: The President rejects the bill and returns it to Congress with the reasons for the veto. Congress can override the veto with 2/3 vote of those present in both the House and the Senate and the bill will become law.
    • Choose No Action: The President can decide to do nothing. If Congress is in session, after 10 days of no answer from the President, the bill then automatically becomes law.
    • Pocket Veto: If Congress adjourns (goes out of session) within the 10 day period after giving the President the bill, the President can choose not to sign it and the bill will not become law.

and the . Anyone elected to either body can propose a new law. is a proposal for a new law.

Steps in Making a Law

  1. A bill can be introduced in either chamber of Congress by a senator or representative who sponsors it.

  2. Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee whose members will research, discuss, and make changes to the bill.

  3. The bill is then put before that chamber to be voted on.

  4. Xổ số miền bắc 2If the bill passes one body of Congress, it goes to the other body to go through a similar process of research, discussion, changes, and voting.

  5. Xổ số miền bắc 2Once both bodies vote to accept a bill, they must work out any differences between the two versions. Then both chambers vote on the same exact bill and, if it passes, they present it to the president.

  6. The president then considers the bill. The president can approve the bill and sign it into law or a bill.

  7. Xổ số miền bắc 2If the , in most cases Congress can vote to override that veto and the bill becomes a law. But, if the president  a bill after Congress has adjourned, the veto cannot be overridden.

Differences Between the House and Senate Procedures

Xổ số miền bắc 2The Senate and the House have some procedural differences between them. Learn more about each body’s process:

may review the laws to see if they agree with the Constitution. If a court finds a law is unconstitutional, it can strike it down.

Find Federal Laws

The contains general and permanent federal laws. It does not include regulations, decisions, or laws issued by:

  • Xổ số miền bắc 2Federal agencies

  • Xổ số miền bắc 2Federal courts

  • Treaties

  • Xổ số miền bắc 2State and local governments

New  appear in each edition of the United States .  There is a new edition for each session of Congress.

  • Find  by the current and earlier sessions of Congress. This includes new laws that have not yet been assigned a public law number.

  • Xổ số miền bắc 2Find that have been assigned public law numbers.

  • Visit the Law Library of Congress to .

  • To find older laws, visit a law library or a .

Federal Regulations

Xổ số miền bắc 2Regulations are issued by federal agencies, boards, and commissions. They explain how agencies plan to carry out laws. Regulations are published yearly in .

The Rulemaking Process

Xổ số miền bắc 2Federal regulations are created through a process known as . If an agency wants to make, change, or delete a rule, it will:

  1. Publish the proposal in the 

  2. Xổ số miền bắc 2Consider the public's comments and change the rule if necessary. The agency then publishes the final version in the Federal Register along with:

    • A description of the comments received

    • The agency’s response to those comments

    • Xổ số miền bắc 2The date the rule goes into effect

Federal Court Decisions

Xổ số miền bắc 2Federal courts do not write or pass laws. But they may establish individual “rights” under federal law. This happens through courts' interpretations of federal and state laws and the Constitution.

An example is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in . The court decided that state laws which segregated public school students by race violated the 14th Amendment. It said that "separate but equal" schools cause minority children to feel inferior. And that hurts their educational opportunities.

State Laws and Regulations

State legislatures make the laws in each state. State courts can review these laws. If a court decides a law doesn't agree with the state's constitution, it can declare it invalid.

Xổ số miền bắc 2Find state laws and regulations with the Law Library of Congress’s .

Xổ số miền bắc 2The Federal Register's online records include  from the current and recent former presidents. The National Archives' online records include . 

Executive Orders

Xổ số miền bắc 2An  has the power of federal law. Presidents can use executive orders to create committees and organizations. For example, President John F. Kennedy used one to create the Peace Corps. More often, presidents use executive orders to manage federal operations.

Xổ số miền bắc 2Congress may try to overturn an executive order by passing a bill that blocks it. But the president can . Congress would then need to override that veto to pass the bill. Also, the Supreme Court can declare an executive order unconstitutional.

Presidential Memoranda

Xổ số miền bắc 2Presidential memoranda are like executive orders. The president can use memos to direct government operations. But presidential memos are not numbered when they are published in the Federal Register, as executive orders are.

Presidential Proclamations

Xổ số miền bắc 2Presidential proclamations are statements that address the public on policy matters. They are mainly symbolic and are usually not enforced as laws.

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Last Updated: September 17, 2020