How a Bill Becomes a Law (Nursing)

by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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    00:01 In this presentation, I'm going to explain how a bill becomes a law.

    00:06 In order to have influence over our policies, it's important to understand the legislative process, specifically how a bill becomes a law.

    00:14 But before we do that, let's differentiate between a bill and a law.

    00:18 A bill is simply a proposal.

    00:21 It's drafted by lawmakers, it's discussed, debated, and then voted upon in Congress.

    00:26 If a bill passes Congress, it becomes a law.

    00:30 A law is a rule.

    00:31 A rule that is enforced by the government.

    00:34 Laws aimed to guide the behavior and activities of its citizens.

    00:39 So how does a bill become a law? Well, here we have bill.

    00:43 In order for him to become a law, he has to go through nine distinct steps.

    00:48 So what I'm going to do is walk you through each of these steps individually.

    00:53 Let's start with Step 1.

    00:55 This is where the bill is drafted.

    00:57 Any member of Congress who has an idea for a law can draft a bill.

    01:01 This can be anyone either from the Senate or from the House of Representatives.

    01:05 Ideas for bills come from the Congress member themselves, or from everyday citizens like me and you.

    01:11 The primary Congress member who supports the bill is called the sponsor.

    01:15 The other members of Congress who support the bill are called co-sponsors.

    01:20 Moving on to Step 2.

    01:22 This is where the bill is introduced.

    01:25 Once a bill is drafted by a Congress member, it must be introduced.

    01:29 This is how the bill officially becomes considered by Congress.

    01:32 Once the bill is introduced, it can be found on the congress. gov website.

    01:36 This is the official government website that tracks all federal legislation.

    01:42 If a senator is the sponsor of the bill, then it's introduced in the Senate.

    01:46 If a representative is the sponsor of a bill, it's introduced in the House of Representatives.

    01:52 Step 3.

    01:53 The bill goes to committee.

    01:54 Once a bill is introduced, it's immediately referred to a committee for detailed review.

    01:59 Committees are composed of groups of Congress members, who are particularly interested in different topics such as health care or international affairs.

    02:07 Both the House and the Senate have various committees.

    02:10 When a bill is in committee, it's critically examined, and its chances of passage by the entire Congress are determined.

    02:17 In order to better understand the implications of the bill, Committees hold hearings.

    02:21 This allows the opinions of supporters and opponents of the legislation to be expressed and put on record.

    02:28 If the committee chooses not to act or review a bill, then the bill is considered to be dead.

    02:36 Step 4.

    02:37 Subcommittee review of the bill.

    02:39 Subcommittees are just smaller groups organized under committees.

    02:43 Congress members in these subcommittees have even further specialization on specific topics.

    02:49 Often committees refer to a subcommittee for an even more in depth study and more hearings.

    02:54 The subcommittee can make changes to the bill, and once the changes are agreed upon, the subcommittee must vote to refer the bill back to the full committee for further progression toward becoming a law.

    03:06 Step 5.

    03:07 Committee markup of the bill.

    03:09 When all hearings and subcommittee reviews are complete, the committee will meet to mark up the bill.

    03:15 This simply means that the committee members can make changes or amendments to the proposed bill before recommending that it goes to the full chamber of Congress.

    03:23 At this point in the process, two things can happen.

    03:26 The committee can vote not to report the legislation to the full chamber of Congress, and that case the bill dies.

    03:33 Or the committee can vote in favor of the bill and it's reported to the floor.

    03:37 This process is called ordering the bill reported.

    03:42 Step 6.

    03:43 Voting by the full chamber on the bill.

    03:46 Once the bill reaches the full chamber of Congress or what's often referred to as reaching the floor, there's even more debate over the content and the implications of the bill.

    03:56 All of the members of the full chamber must vote to approve any amendments that are made.

    04:01 The bill is then passed or defeated by the members voting on the final version of the bill.

    04:08 Step 7.

    04:09 Referral of the bill to the other chamber.

    04:12 When the House of Representatives or Senate passes a bill, it's then referred to the other chamber of Congress for full review.

    04:18 The bill follows the same route through committees and subcommittees and finally back to the floor of the other chamber.

    04:25 Now there are four possible results at this point in the process.

    04:28 This chamber can approve the bill as it was received.

    04:31 They can reject it, ignore it or they can change it.

    04:35 What's changes to the bill are proposed by this chamber, Congress firms what we call a conference committee.

    04:41 The job of this committee is to resolve or reconcile any differences between the two bills, the one that was passed in the House of Representatives and the one that was passed in the Senate.

    04:50 If the conference committee cannot reach an agreement, the bill dies.

    04:54 If the conference committee does agree.

    04:56 The committee members then prepare a conference report with recommendations for the final bill.

    05:01 Both the House and the Senate must vote to approve the conference report.

    05:06 Okay, almost done.

    05:07 Here's Step 8.

    05:08 This is when the bill goes to the President.

    05:10 After both the House of Representatives and the Senate each approve a bill in identical form, the bill is sent on to the President.

    05:18 Here, there are three options.

    05:20 If the president approves of the bill, it's signed, and it becomes law.

    05:25 If the President opposes the bill, they may veto the bill.

    05:28 This means they do not sign it and it does not become law.

    05:32 There's also a third option.

    05:34 If the President takes no action for 10 days.

    05:37 While Congress is in session, the bill automatically becomes law.

    05:41 However, if no action is taken for 10 days, and Congress has already been adjourn, there's a pocket veto.

    05:46 This means that the bill does not become a law.

    05:51 Now Step 9.

    05:52 Overriding a veto.

    05:53 This last step only occurs if the president vetoes the bill.

    05:57 In this case, Congress may attempt to override that veto.

    06:00 In order to do so, both the Senate and the House must pass the bill by two thirds majority.

    06:06 If they do, the President's veto is overruled, and the bill becomes a law.

    06:11 Now, although I describe this process on a federal level, bills are also passed into laws at the state level following the same exact process, but it's done at the state level.

    06:20 That means that the governor has veto power over state level laws.

    06:25 It's also important to recognize that this is how laws are made in the United States.

    06:29 However, each country has their own way of making laws that govern health, and other aspects of citizens lives.

    06:35 For example, in Canada and in the UK, each have a house of commons.

    06:40 The process shown on this slide is the process the government takes to create laws in Canada.

    06:46 No matter the country, health related laws have the ability to positively impact entire populations by making healthy choices, the easiest choices.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture How a Bill Becomes a Law (Nursing) by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN is from the course Public Health and Policy (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. The president approves the bill, and it becomes law.
    2. The president vetoes the bill.
    3. The president vetoes the bill, and Congress attempts to override it.
    4. The president does not act on the bill for ten days while Congress is not in session, and the bill automatically becomes law.
    5. The president requests a second subcommittee review of the bill before approval.
    1. A committee reviews the bill.
    2. A subcommittee reviews the bill.
    3. The committee members make changes to the bill if needed.
    4. The bill is referred to the other chamber.
    5. The conference committee reviews the bill.
    1. A congress member drafts the bill.
    2. Members of parliament draft the law.
    3. The law is introduced to Congress.
    4. The bill is introduced to the public.

    Author of lecture How a Bill Becomes a Law (Nursing)

     Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

    Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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