Steps in Making a Bill into a Law
Introducing the Bill and Referral to a Committee
Everybody in Congress can create a bill. The people who initiate the bill are the sponsors; any member of the same body (House or Senate) can add his or her name after the day of introduction as a cosponsor.
When a bill first starts out, it is given a certain number: H.R. stands for a House bill and S. a Senate bill. The bill is then submitted to a committee with authority over the main issue of the legislation. Sometimes, a bill will be referred to multiple committees. The bill is referred sometimes to a subcommittee first.
Floor Debate and Votes
The Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate determine if and when a bill comes before the full body for debate and amendment, and final passage. There are very different rules of procedure governing debate in the House and Senate. In the House, a Representative may offer an amendment to the bill only if he has obtained "permission" from the Rules Committee. In the Senate, a Senator can offer an amendment without warning so long as the amendment is germane to the underlying bill. A majority vote is required for an amendment and for final passage. Sometimes, amendments are accepted by a "voice vote."
Referral to the Other Chamber
When the House or the Senate passes a bill it is referred to the other chamber where it usually follows the same route through committee and floor action. This chamber may approve the bill as received, reject it, ignore it, or amend it before passing it.
Conference on a bill
If only minor modifications are made to a bill by the other chamber, usually the legislation goes back to...