CAPITOL HILL 101
HOW DOES A BILL BECOME A LAW?
The bill will be scheduled for a vote by the entire House or Senate, if it passes
at the level of committee. Various rules and deals can result in little or no
debate on bills, and in the Senate, “ﬁlibusters” (unlimited debate, sometimes
lasting serval hours to serval days) are sometimes used to delay or prevent
bills from passing.
The chairman of a subcommittee or committee has great power to push a bill
or prevent a vote from taking place. You may hear a bill will “die in
committee,” meaning it has no support, or, that the chairman will not put it to
a vote (or even debate) because he opposes the bill and is afraid it might pass.
Once passes by both houses, a “Conference Committee” of several
Representatives and Senators will be selected to work out any diﬀerences
between the Senate and House versions, and only after both houses have
approved the same language will the ﬁnal version be presented to the
President for his signature or veto.
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