Skip to main content

POLS 30040 — Introduction to Public Policy (Francis)

Guides to Legislative Process/History

The Legislative Process

A simple, uncomplicated example of a Bill that Becomes Law
  • Bill is introduced in the House or Senate.
  • Bill is assigned a number - sequentially as introduced.
  • Bill is assigned to a committee.
    • Bill is usually assigned to a subcommittee of the committee.
    • Hearing(s) or "Mark Up" session(s) are held & bill is revised.
      • Note:  There are usually no records of these sessions.
      • This is where the "sausage" often is made -- i.e, political horse trading
    • Bill is reported out of subcommittee to the committee.
  • Committee holds hearings.
    • Committee revises bill.
    • Committee votes to approve bill.
    • Committee reports out bill to the full House or Senate.
  • House or Senate considers bill.
    • Houes or Senate debates bill.
    • House or Senate amends bill on the floor.
    • House or Senate votes to approve bill.
  • Bill (now an Act) move to the other Chamber for a similar process of consideration.
  • Act is approved by the other Chamber.
  • The "Enrolled Act" goes to the President for signature or veto.
    • Act is given a Public Law (PL) number -- sequentially as passed.
      • For example, PL 112-35, the 35th public law passed by the 112th Congress.
Implementation
  • The Executive Branch agency (authorized in the law) proposes regulations to implement the law.
    • Proposed regulations are published in the Federal Register.
    • Public comment is received.
    • Agency holds public hearings.  (Public comments and hearings may be repeated.)
  • Regulations are finalized by the agency.
  • Regulations are included in the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Summary
    • Law as passed                   Statues at Large
    • Law as codified                  United States Code
    • Regulation as proposed     Federal Register
    • Regulation as codified       Code of Federal Regulation
Some Questions to Ask.
  • WHO are the individuals and/or groups that
    • Introduced the bill?
    • Sponosored or co-sponsored the bill?
    • Supported the bill?
    • Opposed the bill?
    • Were served by or affected by the bill?
  • WHEN did specific actions take place such as
    • Introduced
    • Referred to Committee
    • Referred to Subcommittee
    • Considered by Subcommittee ("mark up" sessions held)
    • Reported out by Subcommittee to Committee
    • Hearings held by Committee
    • Reported out by Committee to full House or Senate
    • Considered by full House or Senate
    • Debated on the floor
    • Voted on by full House or Senate?
  • WHAT were the bills specifics?
    • As introduced
    • As reported out by Subcommittee
    • As reported out by Committee
    • As finally passed by the House or Senate
    • i.e., what was sent to other chamber
    • As considered by the other chamber (similar action points)
    • As passed by both House and Senate
  • Where  is the major interest?
    • Region(s)?
    • State(s)?
    • Urban / Rural?
    • Red / Blue?
  • WHY did it pass?
    • Policy considerations
    • Political considerations
    • Social considerations