What are the various stages a bill passes through before it becomes a law?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, a bill goes through the following stages before it becomes a law (we are assuming that it completes all of the stages and does in fact become law).  

  • The bill is introduced.  This is done by a member of Congress who submits the bill to his or her respective house of Congress.
  • Referral.  The bill is referred to a committee.  The committee can refer it to a subcommittee.
  • Markup.  The committee discusses the bill and can change it if they see fit.  
  • Reporting.  The committee reports the bill to the whole house.  It typically gives a recommendation about how to vote.
  • The bill is debated and voted on by the full house.
  • Reconciliation.  If the two houses have passed bills that are not exactly identical, members of the houses must meet and iron out the differences.  
  • President signs the bill (or refuses to sign it and lets it become law unsigned).

This is the basic story of how a bill becomes a law.  A much more detailed account can be found here.

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