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