3.7 How a Law is Made

Congress makes our laws.  The first step to making a law is to have the idea for the law.  The next step is to create a bill which is a written description of the idea for the law. 

In the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill is introduced when it is placed in the hopper—a special box on the side of the bill clerk’s desk.  A bill clerk assigns it a number that begins with H.R. A reading clerk then reads the bill to all the Representatives, and the Speaker of the House sends the bill to one of the House committees where people debate whether it should become law.  When and if the committee approves the bill, it is reported to the House floor. Once reported, a bill is ready to be debated by the U.S. House of Representatives where representatives might recommend changes.  The bill is then voted on.  If the House votes for it, it goes to the Senate and the whole process begins all over again.  If they also vote for it, it goes to the president who can veto it.  If he doesn't the bill becomes law.  Bills can also start in the Senate and then go to the House of Representatives.  Here is a video about this.


Why not just have the president pass laws instead of going through all this trouble?  That would give the president too much power.  Also he wouldn't know all the laws that are important for the people.  The representative from each state is more likely to know what laws are important for his state.  Finally people who have ideas for laws may not have thought about all the effects those laws might have.  If a lot of people debate the bill before it becomes law some of them might bring up the problems with the bill.  A great example of this would be a bill for raising the minimum wage.  It sounds like a great idea that will help a lot of people who don't make enough money.  However someone might point out in a committee or in Congress that raising the minimum wage can make it to expensive for employers to hire people.  The result could be that the people who earned minimum wage before earn nothing because their employers couldn't afford to keep paying them. 


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Two of the bills the Democrats want change the way we vote and change who can vote.  They are called HR 1 and HR 4. To learn about their plans  Click Here


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