10.8 The Process & Politics of Lawmaking. AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School.

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Unit #1: Theories of Government

10.8 The Process & Politics of LawmakingAP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

The story of Suzzana Hupp is a dramatic one, and a good example of how laws originate. Hupp was eating with her aging parents at a caf in Waco Texas when a deraigned gunman drove his truck through the front window and began methodically shooting people inside. Hupps father tried to stop the gunman but was shot dead. Hupp latter recalled that she had a gun in her purse but left it in the vehicle because, at that time, Texas do not allow guns into public places. She became obsessed, ran for the Texas state legislature, and got the law changed.

Ideas for laws come from many, many different sources. Sometimes they are a response to some tragic event as in the case previously mentioned, and sometimes they emerge out of the political fray that surrounds Washington. Whatever the source of the law, the lawmaking process is complex and, at times, frustrating to American citizens and political pundits alike. But it is also one of the highest expressions of our Constitution, our democracy, and our unique American character. 2AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

10.8a Basic Steps in LawmakingBasic StepsIntroduceCommittee AssignmentFloor ActionPresidential ActionPublic vs Private bills2 Types of BillsBills force of lawResolutionsJoint force of lawSimple Concurrent

In Detail, the legislative process is complex. But in general outline, its relatively simple. The process includes four basic steps: Introduction of a bill, assignment of the bill to committee, floor action (which consists of debate and voting), the bill then goes on the President to be signed into law or vetoed.

Public bills affect everyone and represent most of the bills passed by congress. Private bills are passed that affect individuals (persons of corporations). Examples giving someone citizenship or decorating a member of the armed services. Private bills are not as common as they once were.

Types of Bills:Bills have the force of law and are what we think of when congress passes a law. Resolutions come in three forms: Simple and concurrent resolutions are used for house keeping purposes and thus do NOT have the force of law. Specifically, simple resolutions are used to change the rules under which one house or the other operate. Concurrent resolutions affect both houses of congress such as setting a date of adjournment. The third type, joint resolutions, do have the force of law and used for such weighty matters as declaring war (or authorizing a president to take military action) and proposing constitutional amendments.

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How a Bill Becomes LawHouseIntroduction (hopper) SenateReported OutCommittee (Speaker Assigns)Subcommittee Hearings / MarkupRules committee House Calendars Floor Action Debate & Voting (Voice, Roll Call, Teller)President (Signs, Veto, Pocket Veto)CommitteeIntroduction (From floor or as an amendment)Subcommittee Hearings / MarkupReported OutFloor Action Debate & Voting (Voice, Roll Call, Teller)Conference Committee (works out differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill) IN DEPTHHow a bill makes it through Congress today (Vox)http://www.vox.com/2014/5/22/5723878/how-a-bill-becomes-a-law-in-2014

Statistics on Congress (Brookings)http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/reports/2013/07/vital%20statistics%20congress%20mann%20ornstein/vital%20statistics%20chapter%206%20%20legislative%20productivity%20in%20congress%20and%20workload.pdf

Only a Bill SNL VrsnLawmaking, Formal Steps Play the slide to view the steps in lawmaking

Whether a bill starts in the House or the Senate, a bill must pass both houses of congress. As bills make their way through the complex legislative process, changes are made. These come in the form of changes to the language of the bill (amending the bill) or by adding separate amendments to the bill.

What ever form it takes after moving through either the House or the Senate, the differences in the versions of a bill must be reconciled. The main purpose of a conference committee (which is a type of joint committee) is to work out these differences. Once the bill is reported out the conference committee, it goes to the Presidents desk. The President can either sign, veto, or make use of the pocket veto (If congress adjourns with 10 days of the President receiving the bill it is vetoed without the President directly vetoing the bill this is known as a pocket veto. If it sits on the Presidents desk for more than 10 days and the President has not taken action, the bill automatically becomes law).

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How a bill becomes lawRules & StrategiesMust pass both houses in one term / Only a fraction of bills introduced pass

Lawmaking Rules and Strategies To access stats for the most recent congress, copy the following URL into your browser: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/statistics

It is much easier to kill a bill than it is to pass one. Therefore, sponsors of a bill must follow a set of rules and strategies to get a bill passed


How a bill becomes lawAP Government & Politics Timpanogos High SchoolRules and Strategies Very few bills become law 3% became law in 113th CongressMost bills die in committee -Discharge petitionAmendments Used to change bills, sometimes sabotage billsRiders are amendments that are not germane ..... Christmas tree bill

In Depth Resources:

The Gun Amendments & The 60 Vote Threshold (Wash Post)http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/04/17/the-gun-amendments-need-60-votes-to-pass-but-why/

CommitteesCommittee chairs schedule the business of their committee. If the chair does not like a bill, it can usually be held up in the committee. The bill can be forced out of committee by using a discharge petition.

AmendmentsLegislative Amendments (dont confuse these with Constitutional Amendments) are additions or changes to a bill/law and must be voted on just as a bill does. An amendment can be used to change the language of the bill that is making its way through the legislative process, or can be used to get a bill passed that would not otherwise be passed on its own (See case study below).

Amendments that are non-germane (meaning they have nothing to do with bill they are attached to), are called Rider. A bill that has many riders is sometimes called a Christmas tree bill. Amendments can also sabotage a bill. In this case, the sponsors may seek an amendment that makes it harder to pass a bill in its final form.

Bills can be passed many years latter amendments to an existing law. A good example is the Civil Rights of 1964. That law has been amended many times since it was first passed.

Amendments Case Study:

2007 - http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/09/27/senate-attaches-hate-crime-legislation-to-defense-funding-bill/2010 - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102804909.html


How a bill becomes lawRules and Strategies Filibuster used to stall or kill a bill (Senate only)Cloture / Rule 22 Cruz Oct. 2013Nuclear option

AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High SchoolIn Depth Resources:

The Gun Amendments & The 60 Vote Threshold (Wash Post)http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/04/17/the-gun-amendments-need-60-votes-to-pass-but-why/

The FilibusterFilibusters take place when a Senator(s) talk at length in order to stall or to kill a bill. Filibusters take place in the Senate only (remember, each house makes their own rules) and are considered by some to be the only defence the minority party has against the majority. To stop a filibuster a vote of cloture (60 votes) is required.

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The Politics of LawmakingProcess is slow and complexEasier to block or kill a bill than to pass itAllows outside influence Interest Groups (See Homeland security, Whodunit)Outside influences LobbyistsObamas Deal (trailer)

Congress is Polarized: thus to get things done Overwhelming public support -War authorization, Patriot Act, etc.Compromise is the art of politicsIraq - benchmarks v. timetables

In Depth

Read - Man Behind the Campaign Finance Deal (Politico)The Spending Bill of Dec 2014 had other provision slipped into the bill. Read about a lawyer who helped craft a deal to let political parties raise much more money from wealthy donors


Read: How Wall Street Got its Way (politico)http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/wall-street-spending-bill-congress-113525.html

Politics are woven into the lawmaking process at almost every turn. The lawmaking process is slow and cumbersome to begin with, politics makes the process even more so. The consequence? It is much easier to kill a bill than to pass one (In the 112th congress, only 2% of bills introduced into congress became law). The slow and complex process also exposes lawmaking to outside influences such as lobbyists. It would surprise the average American citizen how much influence, sometimes very direct, lobbyists have on laws. In some cases lobbyists are actually writing parts of the bill. The silver lining? The slow process makes it less likely legislation is railroaded through congress.

Polarized CongressThey say that compromise is the art of politics, but congress is finding it harder and harder to compromise.

In Depth - A Homeland Security Whodunit (Washington Post): http://wearetimpanogos.org/Departments/SocialStudies/Olson/AP%20Gov/Congress/A%20Homeland%20Security%20Whodunit.htm

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The Politics of LawmakingJockeying for the legislative leadCongress v. PresidentDemocrats v. Republicans

Pork Barrel Legislation / EarmarksPig Book (CAGW)Omnibus BillsCromnibus Spending Bill (CNN Dec. 2014)What's tucked in the Bill (CNN Dec 2014)

In DepthWhats Tucked in the Bill - Video (CNN, Dec 2014)http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/10/politics/policy-riders-spending-bill/index.html?hpt=hp_t19The President, Congress, Republicans, Democrats all jockey to take the lead on popular policy proposals. Who ever can take the lead on popular proposals can score political points (i.e. it looks good to American voters)

Earmarks (also referred to a pork barrel legislation) are provisions that individual congressmen place in a bill that sets aside money for a project in that congressmans state or district. They are often associated with wasteful spending. The Republicans called for a moratorium on earmarks in the 2008 congressional session but they still continue.

One strategy to get pork barrel spending into bills is to wait till the end of the congressional term and pass them as part of omnibus bill. These are massive bills that are composed of many smaller bills that would not have passed on their own. Omnibus bills are to some symbolic of the mickey mouse way congress operates nowadays.

According to CAGWs (Citizens Against Government Waste) 2007 Pig Book, congressional earmarks hit a crescendo in 2006 with about $29 Billion in pork-barrel spending. It dropped in 2007.

In the end, the elimination of pork may not make all that much difference. Cutting 29 billion out of a 3 trillion dollar budget is a drop in the bucket. For some, however, its an important symbolic move.

AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

Health Care Reform (2010)

Debate in Congress (2010) ....Final VoteThe Politics of Lawmaking10Democrats pass health care reform (March 2010): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22health.html?pagewanted=all

Debate over Obama Care (2013): http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/the-pointless-debate-over-obamacare.html

Overview of Obama Care (2013): http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/30/%3Fp%3D63297/The Politics of weaponsCASE STUDYAP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

Case Study: Politics of Weapons

Why is it so hard to Cut Defence Spending?F-22 RaptorSupport the F-35All Politics are Local Politics

In DepthGreat 4 part series on the politics of the F22:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-22/flawed-f-35-fighter-too-big-to-kill-as-lockheed-hooks-45-states.html

12Case Study F22By all accounts the F-22 is a technological marvel. The plane has the latest in weapons, stealth, and manueverability. But is $412 million per plane worth the cost? Even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates doesnt think so. "The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," Gates told a congressional panel in 2008.

So why did we build a plane that has little practical application to todays conflicts? The answer, in a word, is politics. The builder of the F-22, giant Lockheed Martin, has dispersed the building of the plane out to 44 states with over 1000 sub contractors. Any talk of cutting the planes production has certain congressman kicking and screaming congressman whos state has a part in building the plane. The F22 is a good example of how members of congress bring their local interests and agendas to Washington. Thus all politics is local politics.

Resources:Great 4 part series on the politics of the F22: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-22/flawed-f-35-fighter-too-big-to-kill-as-lockheed-hooks-45-states.htmlhttp://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/aug/07/business/la-fi-fighter-jets-grounded-20110807http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/politics-not-need-accelerates-f22-other-program

AP Government & Politics Timpanogos High School

Case Study: All Politics are Local PoliticsSave the A10 (Facebook)

Politics of the A-10(NPR audio)

In DepthVoting on the Fate of the A-10 (NPR)http://www.npr.org/2014/05/21/314447805/house-to-vote-on-fate-of-a-10-warthogs13Case Study A10 Warthog



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