All citizens should strive to have a clear understanding of how government works. The power of the government is something we have to deal with every day though we may not realize it. Certainly, it exercises a degree of influence on our lives whether we care for it or not.
Perhaps the best example of this is the type of laws being passed. Remember that while government exercises authority over us, in the end, it is ultimately accountable to the will of the people. Because of this, we need to have a full grasp of how government processes work. This is so that we can determine if they are doing their duty or not.
In this article, we shall explore the question, who makes federal laws?
What is the job of Congress?
Technically speaking, everyone can write a law themselves. However, only members of Congress have the constitutional mandate to introduce it as a piece of legislation. As part of the government’s legislative branch this task is theirs to perform. It is endowed with the power to create new laws as well as to make changes to existing laws.
Aside from making laws, Congress also has a few other powers. For instance, it is charged with raising and supporting the country’s armed forces. In fact, it is Congress that can declare a state of war. Other than that, Congress is also tasked to craft the federal government’s budget, levy taxes, collect tariffs, and borrow money. Also, as part of the check-and-balance scheme, Congress is given the authority to investigate any accusations of wrongdoing allegedly perpetrated by government officials.
How does passing a law work?
The process of passing a law is a long and complicated one. This is because there are many factors and obstacles that need to be looked into in order to achieve this goal. It is unsurprising then that many attempts end in failure.
The process starts when a member of Congress decides to sponsor a bill. The representative could have crafted that bill himself, or they could have worked in close coordination with stakeholders to develop its specific provisions. Of course, as the ball starts rolling, the bill’s sponsor should be prepared for anything.
Once a bill has found its sponsor, it will be sent to a subcommittee, and then to a full committee thereafter. These groups are charged with looking over and reviewing the bill. This is a crucial part of the process as this is where the bill transforms, passes, or dies. This is because the committees are allowed to reject, amend, or pass the bill.
Only after being accepted by the full committee will the bill be sent to the head of the majority party. Keep in mind that the bill still remains on the particular congressional house in which it originated. That house will vote to pass the bill or not. If it passes, the bill is then sent to the other where voting will once again occur. Only after winning the majority in both houses of congress will a bill be sent to the President. In turn, the President can sign it into law or veto the bill. Of course, Congress is also given the power to override the presidential veto through a two-thirds majority vote.