What is legislation? Describe the procedure of law making in Congress under USA constitution.

(1) Introduction To Legislation:

Legislation means making of law through a legislature. In other words, process of making law is called legislation. It is usually considered that process of making of law starts with presentation of Bill to Parliament. However, the reality is that much of work is needed to be done before presentation of Bill into Parliament. As far as this work is concerned, proposals play an important role regarding law-making process in American Congress.

(2) Proposals:

As far as law making is concerned, first step is that proposals are developed to address particular goals and problems. As far as American law making is concerned, proposals can be classified into following two kinds:

  • (i) Resolution
  • (ii) Bill

(i) Resolution

Regarding American legislation, resolutions can also be divided into following three kinds:

  • (a) Joint Resolution
  • (b) Concurrent Resolution
  • (c) Simple House of Representative or Senate Resolution

(a) Joint Resolution:

Joint Resolution is that resolution, which is passed by both House of Representatives and Senate and is presented to President for his assent.

(b) Concurrent Resolution:

Concurrent Resolution is that resolution, which is used to correct errors in the bills already passed by the Congress and it needs no verification of the President.

(c) Simple House of Representatives or Senate Resolution

Simple House of Representatives or Senate Resolution is that resolution, which expresses opinion and purpose of the concerned House and does not need any endorsement.

(b) Bill:

Regarding American legislation. Bill can be divided into following three kinds:

  • (b-1) Public Bill
  • (b-2) Private-Bill
  • (b-3) Money Bill

(b-1) Public Bill:

Public Bill is usually about matters of public importance and it reflects a major program of government policy.

(b-2) Private Bill:

Private Bill is of private importance and it is about a person or place.

(b-3) Money Bill:

Money Bill is about financial matters like finance or taxes.

(3) Procedure Of Law Making In American Congress:

In democratic system, main objective of a Parliament is legislation. In every Parliament, a specific procedure is adopted for legislation. Usually this procedure starts with presentation of Bill to either of Houses of Parliament. In American Congress, Private and Public Bill can initially be presented either to House of Representatives sor to Senate, but Money Bill is initially presented only to House of Representative. Therefore, procedure for legislation of Private and Public Bill is different from that procedure, which is for legislation of Money Bill in American Congress:

  • (i) Law-making process for legislation of Private & Public
  • (ii) Law-making process for Money or Revenue or Financial Bill

(i) Law-Making Process For Private & Public Bill:

In American Congress, following procedure is adopted for legislation of Private and Public Bill:

  • (a) Presentation of Private & Public Bill
  • (b) If the Bill is initially presented to House of Representative
  • (c) Bill in first reading
  • (d) Sending of Bill to appropriate standing committee
  • (e) Bill in second reading
  • (f) Bill in committee of whole
  • (g) Bill in third reading
  • (h) Bill of House of Representatives in Senate
  • (i) American President’s approval
  • (j) If the Bill is initially presented to Senate

 (a) Presentation Of Private & Public Bill:

It is after presentation of Private or Public Bill to either of houses that law-making process starts in American Congress. Thus, process of law making can be started either in American House of Representatives or American Senate.

(b) If Bill Is Initially Presented To House of Representatives:

If Bill is initially presented to House of Representative, then following procedure is adopted.

(c) Bill In First Reading:

In law-making process in American Congress, very first age is called First Reading. During this stage, any member of the presents the Bill in the house ar i printed copies of the Bill e given to other members of the house.

(d) Sending Of Bill To Appropriate Standing Committee:

After passing through stage of First Reading, Bill is sent to appropriate Standing Committee. Main function of this committee is proper examination and consideration of the Bill. The committee can approve or reject or amend or rewrite or substitute the Bill.

(e) Bill In Second Reading:

When the Bill is returned from the appropriate standing committee to the house, its Second Reading starts. During this stage, the Bill is thoroughly discussed, and amendment and counter-amendment are also proposed.

(f) Bill In Committee Of Whole:

After Second Reading, House of Representatives converts itself into Committee of Whole so as to discuss the Bill put forward by the other Standing Committee. To establish Committee of Whole, quorum of the House is reduced to one hundred and ten members and these members suggest several amendments and give explanations.

(g) Bill In Third Reading:

During Third Reading, the Bill is voted.

(h) Bill Of House Of Representatives In Senate:

If House of Representatives passes the Bill during voting, the same is sent to Senate. And if the Senate approves it through voting, then the Bill is sent for American President’s approval.

(i) American President’s Approval:

After passing of the Bill by both the Houses of American Congress, Private or Public Bill is sent to American President’s approval. Here, following points are important:

  • (i-1) Approval of the Bill
  • (i-2) Disapproval of the Bill
  • (i-3) Veto Power
  • (i-4) Pocket-Veto

(i-1) Approval Of The Bill:

The Bill becomes law with approval of American President.

(i-2) Disapproval Of The Bill:

If American President disapproves the Bill, the Bill, along with President’s objections, is returned to the House where it has been initially presented.

(i-3) Veto Power:

To reject the Bill, American President can use his/her veto power. However, two third majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate can convert the Bill into law without approval of American President.

(i-4) Pocket-Veto:

If American Congress is in session, the Bill will become law when American President does not return it within ten days after its presentation to him/her. However, if session of American Congress is adjourned before ten days or American Congress is not in session, the Bill will be considered rejected when American President does not return it within ten days after its presentation to him/her. This power of American President is called pocket-veto.

(j) If The Bill Is Initially Presented To Senate:

If a Private or Public Bill is initially presented to American Senate, almost the same procedure, which is adopted in American House of Representatives, is also adopted in American Senate for legislation of such Bill.

(ii) Law-Making Process For Money Bill:

In American Congress, following procedure is adopted for legislation of Money Bill:

  • (a) Presentation of Money Bill
  • (b) Committee stage
  • (c) Return of Bill from committee to House of Representatives
  • (d) Bill in Senate
  • (e) Joint-Conference Committees
  • (f) American President’s approval

(a) Presentation Of Money Bill:

Money Bill is initially presented only to House of Representatives in American Congress.

(b) Committee Stage:

After its presentation, the Bill is sent to some appropriate committee. This committee can make amendments to the Bill.

Such committee can be of following two kinds:

  • (b-1) Committee on Appropriation
  • (b-2) Committee of Ways & Means

(b-1) Committee On Appropriation:

Money or Financial Bill is sent to Committee on Appropriation after its presentation to American House of Representatives.

(b-2) Committee Of Ways & Means:

Revenue Bill is sent to Committee of Ways and Means after its presentation to American House of Representatives.

(c) Return Of Bill From Committee To House Of Representatives:

After consideration of the Bill, the appropriate committee returns the amended or non-amended Bill to the House of Representatives. And the House of Representatives holds voting over the Bill.

(d) Bill In Senate:

If the House of Representatives passes the Bill during voting, the Bill is sent to American Senate. If both the House of Representatives and Senate agrees, the Senate can make further amendments in the Bill.

(e) Joint-Conference Committees:

In case of disagreement between the House of Representatives and Senate regarding the Bill, Joint-Conference Committees are called in.

(f) American President’s Approval:

In case of agreement between the House of Representatives and Senate regarding the Bill, the Bill is sent to American President for his/her approval.

(3) Conclusion:

To conclude, it can be stated that American law-making process is best example of check and balance. Passing of a Bill through two third majority of both the Houses is a check on veto power of American President while American President’s pocket-veto is a check on powers of American Congress.

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