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Old 09-11-2008, 12:27 PM
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Default GOVERNMENT 101: How a Bill Becomes Law

found this excellent details and thought should share it.
Have also highlighted #6 where HR 5882 is currently at


http://www.vote-smart.org/resource_govt101_02.php

GOVERNMENT 101: How a Bill Becomes Law

A.


Legislation is Introduced - Any member can introduce a piece of legislation

House - Legislation is handed to the clerk of the House or placed in the hopper.

Senate - Members must gain recognition of the presiding officer to announce the introduction of a bill during the morning hour. If any senator objects, the introduction of the bill is postponed until the next day.

* The bill is assigned a number. (e.g. HR 1 or S 1)
* The bill is labeled with the sponsor's name.
* The bill is sent to the Government Printing Office (GPO) and copies are made.
* Senate bills can be jointly sponsored.
* Members can cosponsor the piece of Legislation.

B.


Committee Action - The bill is referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker of the House or the presiding officer in the Senate. Most often, the actual referral decision is made by the House or Senate parliamentarian. Bills may be referred to more than one committee and it may be split so that parts are sent to different committees. The Speaker of the House may set time limits on committees. Bills are placed on the calendar of the committee to which they have been assigned. Failure to act on a bill is equivalent to killing it. Bills in the House can only be released from committee without a proper committee vote by a discharge petition signed by a majority of the House membership (218 members).

Committee Steps:

1. Comments about the bill's merit are requested by government agencies.
2. Bill can be assigned to subcommittee by Chairman.
3. Hearings may be held.
4. Subcommittees report their findings to the full committee.
5. Finally there is a vote by the full committee - the bill is "ordered to be reported."
6. A committee will hold a "mark-up" session during which it will make revisions and additions. If substantial amendments are made, the committee can order the introduction of a "clean bill" which will include the proposed amendments. This new bill will have a new number and will be sent to the floor while the old bill is discarded. The chamber must approve, change or reject all committee amendments before conducting a final passage vote.
7. After the bill is reported, the committee staff prepares a written report explaining why they favor the bill and why they wish to see their amendments, if any, adopted. Committee members who oppose a bill sometimes write a dissenting opinion in the report. The report is sent back to the whole chamber and is placed on the calendar.
8. In the House, most bills go to the Rules committee before reaching the floor. The committee adopts rules that will govern the procedures under which the bill will be considered by the House. A "closed rule" sets strict time limits on debate and forbids the introduction of amendments. These rules can have a major impact on whether the bill passes. The rules committee can be bypassed in three ways: 1) members can move rules to be suspended (requires 2/3 vote)2) a discharge petition can be filed 3) the House can use a Calendar Wednesday procedure.

C.


Floor Action

1. Legislation is placed on the Calendar

House: Bills are placed on one of four House Calendars. They are usually placed on the calendars in the order of which they are reported yet they don't usually come to floor in this order - some bills never reach the floor at all. The Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader decide what will reach the floor and when. (Legislation can also be brought to the floor by a discharge petition.)

Senate: Legislation is placed on the Legislative Calendar. There is also an Executive calendar to deal with treaties and nominations. Scheduling of legislation is the job of the Majority Leader. Bills can be brought to the floor whenever a majority of the Senate chooses.

2. Debate

House: Debate is limited by the rules formulated in the Rules Committee. The Committee of the Whole debates and amends the bill but cannot technically pass it. Debate is guided by the Sponsoring Committee and time is divided equally between proponents and opponents. The Committee decides how much time to allot to each person. Amendments must be germane to the subject of a bill - no riders are allowed. The bill is reported back to the House (to itself) and is voted on. A quorum call is a vote to make sure that there are enough members present (218) to have a final vote. If there is not a quorum, the House will adjourn or will send the Sergeant at Arms out to round up missing members.

Senate: debate is unlimited unless cloture is invoked. Members can speak as long as they want and amendments need not be germane - riders are often offered. Entire bills can therefore be offered as amendments to other bills. Unless cloture is invoked, Senators can use a filibuster to defeat a measure by "talking it to death."

3. Vote - the bill is voted on. If passed, it is then sent to the other chamber unless that chamber already has a similar measure under consideration. If either chamber does not pass the bill then it dies. If the House and Senate pass the same bill then it is sent to the President. If the House and Senate pass different bills they are sent to Conference Committee. Most major legislation goes to a Conference Committee.

D.


Conference Committee

1. Members from each house form a conference committee and meet to work out the differences. The committee is usually made up of senior members who are appointed by the presiding officers of the committee that originally dealt with the bill. The representatives from each house work to maintain their version of the bill.
2. If the Conference Committee reaches a compromise, it prepares a written conference report, which is submitted to each chamber.
3. The conference report must be approved by both the House and the Senate.

E.


The President - the bill is sent to the President for review.

1. A bill becomes law if signed by the President or if not signed within 10 days and Congress is in session.
2. If Congress adjourns before the 10 days and the President has not signed the bill then it does not become law ("Pocket Veto.")
3. If the President vetoes the bill it is sent back to Congress with a note listing his/her reasons. The chamber that originated the legislation can attempt to override the veto by a vote of two-thirds of those present. If the veto of the bill is overridden in both chambers then it becomes law.

F.


The Bill Becomes A Law - once a bill is signed by the President or his veto is overridden by both houses it becomes a law and is assigned an official number.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 09-11-2008, 02:00 PM
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Default Lame duck session.

Since there was talk of the HR 5882 being taken up in two months time in a lame duck session, I thought it might be helpful to have this on this page.

Source = http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/lameduck.htm

Lame Duck Sessions of the U.S. Congress
Once rare, now commonplace
By Robert Longley, About.com

Lame duck sessions of the U.S. Congress happen in even numbered years when Congress has to reconvene following the November general election to take care of unfinished legislation. Some lawmakers who return for this session lost their bids for reelection and will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called "lame duck" members participating in a "lame duck" session.
The possibility of lame duck sessions of Congress began in 1935, when the 20th Amendment1 to the U.S. Constitution2 took effect. Under this amendment, ratified in 1933, regular sessions of Congress begin on January 3 of each year, unless Congress passes a law in the previous session changing the date. Also, the terms of members begin and end on January 3 of odd-numbered years. Under these arrangements, any meeting of Congress between election day in an even-numbered year and the following January 3 is considered a lame duck session.

Why lame duck sessions are bad
Lame duck sessions are never desirable. Defeated lame duck lawmakers, knowing they will not have jobs in the new Congress, either tend to "just go through the motions" while debating and voting on remaining important legislation or, in worse cases, attempt to hinder or even damage the lawmaking process. On the state level, the legislatures of only 11 states even allow lame duck sessions.

By far the most dismal scenario for a lame duck session is whenever one of the two major political parties has taken away majority control of one or both houses of Congress from the other party, as happened after the 2006 mid-term election, when the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate from the Republicans. In these instances, with political tempers already running hot, the temptation for lame duck members to vent their frustrations by working to stall good bills, while turning bad bills into worse laws, becomes even greater.

Why lame duck sessions happen
Once rare, lame duck sessions have become all too common. The final days of the 109th Congress in November and December of 2006 became the 16th lame duck session since 1940.

The typical "target" date for the annual adjournment of each session of Congress is during the first week in October. The target adjournment date has become a total myth in recent years. The first session of the 109th Congress, for example, did not achieve final adjournment until Dec. 22, 2005.

During far too many recent years, the main reason for lame duck sessions has been Congress' failure to complete its work on the spending, or "appropriations" bills that form the basis of the annual federal budget. By law, the federal budget process3, including passage of the spending bills, begins the first Monday in February of each year and should be concluded by October 1st, the start of the federal government's Federal Fiscal Year. Failing to pass the spending bill by October 1, Congress is compelled to pass "continuing resolutions4," legislation that allows the government operate temporarily without an approved budget at the previous year's spending levels.

Lame duck sessions: some bad, some not so bad
Some sessions are not particularly productive, often because of political disputes and the difficulties of reaching legislative decisions in a post-election environment. In 1982 and 2002, for example, Congress returned after the November election in part to complete work on most of the spending bills. In each case, it failed to do so and the new Congress had to enact large continuing resolutions to fund government operations for the fiscal year already in progress.

Other lame duck sessions, such as the one held in 1980, have been more productive. On that occasion, Congress approved budget resolution and reconciliation measures, five regular appropriations bills and a continuing resolution, an Alaska lands bill, a landmark environmental cleanup "superfund" bill, a measure extending revenue sharing, a revision of military pay and other benefits, and a bill changing the appointment power of the Senate President pro tempore.

This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/lameduck.htm

2008 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserve
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 09-11-2008, 02:15 PM
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Default great information

Perfect! many thanks for posting that link. it looks like our dear HR5882 is light years away from being signed into law... so I just tamed my expectations... However, we definitely need to keep up those phone calls. Fair Disclosure: I have called only once or twice... Folks, I am very less motivated about this thing getting better. But I am a dedicated spectator. Please pardon me in advance for in-action.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiGuy View Post
found this excellent details and thought should share it.
Have also highlighted #6 where HR 5882 is currently at


http://www.vote-smart.org/resource_govt101_02.php
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have used AC21
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 09-11-2008, 02:29 PM
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Another important question is once this law (5882)is enacted, how long USCIS will take to implement it ?
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Old 09-11-2008, 02:33 PM
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Default Good Information

Very Good Research. I just gave you Green.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesbond007 View Post
Since there was talk of the HR 5882 being taken up in two months time in a lame duck session, I thought it might be helpful to have this on this page.

Source = http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/lameduck.htm

Lame Duck Sessions of the U.S. Congress
Once rare, now commonplace
By Robert Longley, About.com

Lame duck sessions of the U.S. Congress happen in even numbered years when Congress has to reconvene following the November general election to take care of unfinished legislation. Some lawmakers who return for this session lost their bids for reelection and will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called "lame duck" members participating in a "lame duck" session.
The possibility of lame duck sessions of Congress began in 1935, when the 20th Amendment1 to the U.S. Constitution2 took effect. Under this amendment, ratified in 1933, regular sessions of Congress begin on January 3 of each year, unless Congress passes a law in the previous session changing the date. Also, the terms of members begin and end on January 3 of odd-numbered years. Under these arrangements, any meeting of Congress between election day in an even-numbered year and the following January 3 is considered a lame duck session.

Why lame duck sessions are bad
Lame duck sessions are never desirable. Defeated lame duck lawmakers, knowing they will not have jobs in the new Congress, either tend to "just go through the motions" while debating and voting on remaining important legislation or, in worse cases, attempt to hinder or even damage the lawmaking process. On the state level, the legislatures of only 11 states even allow lame duck sessions.

By far the most dismal scenario for a lame duck session is whenever one of the two major political parties has taken away majority control of one or both houses of Congress from the other party, as happened after the 2006 mid-term election, when the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate from the Republicans. In these instances, with political tempers already running hot, the temptation for lame duck members to vent their frustrations by working to stall good bills, while turning bad bills into worse laws, becomes even greater.

Why lame duck sessions happen
Once rare, lame duck sessions have become all too common. The final days of the 109th Congress in November and December of 2006 became the 16th lame duck session since 1940.

The typical "target" date for the annual adjournment of each session of Congress is during the first week in October. The target adjournment date has become a total myth in recent years. The first session of the 109th Congress, for example, did not achieve final adjournment until Dec. 22, 2005.

During far too many recent years, the main reason for lame duck sessions has been Congress' failure to complete its work on the spending, or "appropriations" bills that form the basis of the annual federal budget. By law, the federal budget process3, including passage of the spending bills, begins the first Monday in February of each year and should be concluded by October 1st, the start of the federal government's Federal Fiscal Year. Failing to pass the spending bill by October 1, Congress is compelled to pass "continuing resolutions4," legislation that allows the government operate temporarily without an approved budget at the previous year's spending levels.

Lame duck sessions: some bad, some not so bad
Some sessions are not particularly productive, often because of political disputes and the difficulties of reaching legislative decisions in a post-election environment. In 1982 and 2002, for example, Congress returned after the November election in part to complete work on most of the spending bills. In each case, it failed to do so and the new Congress had to enact large continuing resolutions to fund government operations for the fiscal year already in progress.

Other lame duck sessions, such as the one held in 1980, have been more productive. On that occasion, Congress approved budget resolution and reconciliation measures, five regular appropriations bills and a continuing resolution, an Alaska lands bill, a landmark environmental cleanup "superfund" bill, a measure extending revenue sharing, a revision of military pay and other benefits, and a bill changing the appointment power of the Senate President pro tempore.

This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/lameduck.htm

2008 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserve

Last edited by GCOP; 09-11-2008 at 02:37 PM.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 09-11-2008, 02:35 PM
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Default

You too did a good Job. You also earned a Green.
[quote=DesiGuy;287839]found this excellent details and thought should share it.
Have also highlighted #6 where HR 5882 is currently at


http://www.vote-smart.org/resource_govt101_02.php

GOVERNMENT 101: How a Bill Becomes Law

A.


Legislation is Introduced - Any member can introduce a piece of legislation

House - Legislation is handed to the clerk of the House or placed in the hopper.
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Old 09-11-2008, 04:19 PM
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Talking

Gave a green for the detailed process of a bill becoming a law.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 09-12-2008, 12:47 PM
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Default

thanks both (gcop & ram).

for_gc,

once bill becomes law, USCIS will have to implement it immediately, else they will be breaking the law. there probably is a way for them to go to court and ask for more time by citing administrative delays.
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