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Oct 26, 2010

A Brief on Legislative Process in the United States of America

      The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Congress. Anyone can write it, but only members of Congress can introduce act. However, some important bills are traditionally introduced at the request of the President, such as the annual federal budget.
       After being introduced, bill is referred to appropriate committee for review. According to White House 2008 statistics, there are 17 senate committees, with 23 House committees, with 104 subcommittees. Each committee oversees a specific area, and the subcommittees undertake more specialized area. 
       A bill is first considered in a subcommittee, where it may be accepted, amended or rejected entirely. If the members of the subcommittee agree to move the bill forward, it is reported to the full committee, where the same progress is repeated again. During this stage of the process, the committees and subcommittees are constitutionally having the power to call hearing to investigate the merits and flaws of the bill. They invite experts, advocates, and opponents to appear before the committee and provide testimony, and can compel persons to appear using “Subpoena Power” if necessary.
      If the full committee votes to approve the bill, it is reported to the House or Senate, and the majority leader set the date for consideration. When the bills come up for consideration, the House goes through debate process. Each member, in the House of Representatives, only has few minutes to speak, and the number and kind of amendments are very limited. So, bills are easily enacted in the House. On the contrary, most of the bills die in the Senate because of so-called “Filibuster Rights.”  Unlike most of the Senates, which are from time to time considered as Rubber-Stamp Assembly, the debate on most bills in the US Senate is unlimited. Senators are given unlimited debate time. As a consequence, a disapproval of a senator may result in the death of a law. The senator, who disagrees with the passage of a law, can use the unlimited debate time to adjourn the vote on the bill. Some critics argue that the Constitution gives too much power the Senate and by doing so make the institution becomes the Club of Dictators. However, at the request of 16 senators and with the support of 3/5 of all members of the Senate can break the filibuster. Should the filibuster is broken; the senators who wish to continue to speak have only 1 hour to clarify their position.    
      A bill must pass both houses of Congress before its goes to the President for consideration. The President has several options which have already been mentioned. Thanks!!!