Show MoreOur Government:
The Legislative Branch
6 December 2010
THESIS: The Legislative Branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate which forms the United States Congress; the Constitution grants Congress the single authority to pass legislation and declare war, the right to approve or reject Presidential appointments, and significant investigative powers. I. What is the Legislative Branch?
A. It includes the House of Representatives and the Senate (Congress).
B. The requirements for both chambers.
C. It makes the laws. II. The Legislative Process
A. The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Congress.
B. A bill must pass through…show more content…
Members of them both vote on the final version of the bill. If the bill is approved by the House and Senate, it is sent to the President. When the President receives the bill, he may sign, veto, or pocket veto the bill. If he signs it, the bill becomes a law. If he vetoes it, it goes back to Congress for redrafting or Congress can override the veto with two-thirds majority vote in both chambers. If the President does not return the bill to Congress with his disagreements within 10 days or so, the bill can automatically become a law. If Congress adjourns before the 10 day period, the bill is vetoed. And if Congress wants to pass this legislation, they must begin an entire new process.
Once the bill is signed by the President, the laws are given public law numbers and copied in printed form as slip laws. These Public Laws are then bound into the Statues of Large.
In each two-year session, thousands of bills come before Congress. Almost twelve thousand bills were introduced in Congress in one recent session. Less than five hundred were enacted into law.
Powers of Congress Congress is the only part in the government that can make new laws or change existing ones. The President may veto bills Congress passes, but Congress may override a veto by two-thirds a vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Congress is also empowered to pass laws deemed “necessary and proper” for the carrying
Legislate - to make law
Legislature - A body of lawmakers (Congress, Assembly, etc.)
Legislator - An individual lawmaker
When our system of government was created the fears that our founding fathers had about tyranny still existed. To prevent the abuse of power several systems were created. Federalism was created to ensure that state governments could exercise local control and Separation of Powers was created to further divide the power of the national government. Separation of Powers has within it a system of checks and balances. These checks and balances set one branch of government against the other to ensure a healthy competition. This competition safeguards against one branch gaining too much power.
Internally, the legislative branch has its own way of balancing power. The legislative branch, as you know is broken up into two parts or houses. This is known as a bicameral legislature. Each of the houses of Congress has its differences and there are something they must do together as well. See the charts below as a guide:
Must both pass a bill in order for it to become a law.
Must both vote to override a presidential veto with a 2/3 vote in order to override.
Must both vote to propose and amendment by a 2/3 vote.
STEP ONE - An idea is developed
Ideas can be generated by a variety of sources.
- Individual citizens and citizens groups may pressure members of government to take an action.
- Members of local government may request that members of a higher level of government take action.
- Interest Groups (organized groups of citizens that share a common political goal) may pressure Congress.
- PAC's (Political Action Committees) may apply pressure. A PAC is like an interest group.
- All of these groups may hire "lobbyists" to plead their case. A lobbyist is a professional who goes and speaks to congressmen to get something done.
STEP TWO - The legislation gets "sponsored" and introduced.
- A congressmen, or several, must be interested enough in the idea to write it up and officially send it to the House or Senate with their name on it. This is called "sponsoring" the bill.
- When the send the bill to the floor of the house or Senate this is known as being "introduced."
STEP THREE - The bill is assigned to a committee
- The Speaker of the House or Majority Leader of the Senate assign the bill to an appropriate committee.
- The committee debate the bill and holds "hearings."
- The committee votes on the bill and either give it a favorable recommendation or an unfavorable recommendation.
STEP FOUR - The bill must get voted on and pass the House or Senate (wherever it started) with a majority vote.
STEP FIVE - The bill goes to the other chamber and repeats the process. THE BILL MUST PASS BOTH HOUSES!
- If the bill started in the House it then must pass the same system in the Senate.
- If the bill started in the Senate it then must pass the same system in the House.
- Sometimes a bill does go through both at the same time.
STEP SIX - Differences in the bills passed in both houses must be worked out at "Conference Committee."
- Conference Committee are the leading members of the House and Senate from both Political Parties.
STEP SEVEN - The bill goes before the President.
- The President may sign the bill. It then become a law.
- The President may veto the bill. It then may be overridden with 2/3 vote of the House and Senate.
- If the President lets the bill sit on his desk for ten days without taking any action and Congress is still in session the bill automatically passes (pocket pass).
- If the President lets the bill sit on his desk for ten days without taking any action and Congress ends their session before ten days are up the bill automatically fails (pocket veto).
Back To Class Notes