Two of my most basic obligations under our Constitution are to propose laws that govern our country and to vote on proposals before Congress. Proposed laws are referred to as bills, while other proposals that express the sense of Congress on specific issues are referred to as resolutions.
Bills and resolutions go through a lengthy process involving preparation, discussion, debate, often compromise and votes. For a bill to become law, it must generally follow these steps in the U.S. House (the procedure is basically the same in the U.S. Senate):
- The bill is developed by a U.S. Representative to achieve his or her goals from information obtained from any number of sources.
- The bill is introduced in the House by the Representative (who is then the bill’s sponsor).
- Other Representatives may join the sponsor in supporting the bill (as cosponsors).
- The bill is then referred to one or more of the House Committees, smaller groups of Representatives and staff who specialize in the various subjects that come before Congress.
- The Committees review the bill, which may involve hearing (taking testimony on) or amending (changing) it.
- The Committees decide whether to vote the bill out of committee and to the full House for consideration.
- The full House votes on whether to pass the bill.
- If the vote is to pass the bill, it then goes to the Senate for a similar process.
- If it passes the Senate in a different version, the House and Senate have a joint conference to see if they can work out their differences.
- Once the bill passes both House and Senate in the same form, the bill goes to the President.
- The President can approve the bill and sign it into law, or veto (reject) it.
- If the President vetoes the bill, it can still become law if Congress votes to override the veto.
To view the bills and resolutions I have sponsored and cosponsored, please visit the Library of Congress’s website at www.congress.gov. To view my votes in the full House, please visit the Roll Call Votes Webpage also maintained by the Library of Congress.
You can click here to view my full vote record.