How Does a Bill Become a Law?

Infographic depicting the steps from a bill's introduction in Congress to signature from the president. Text version below

Text Version

How a Bill Becomes a Law

1. Introduction

The first introduction of a bill can happen in either house of the United States Congress (the Senate or the House of Representatives). One or more senators or representatives "sponsor" the bill and introduce it to their fellow legislators.

2. Committee

The proposed bill is then assigned to a committee, which conducts research and proposes changes to the bill.

3. Debate

The bill goes to the House or Senate floor for debate. Members of Congress can propose changes before they vote. The majority in both houses must pass the same version of the bill before it can reach the president's desk.

4. Presidential Action

The president has several options when a bill has passed Congress. They can sign the bill, making it a law. Or, they can veto, which rejects it and sends the bill back to Congress. If they do nothing, the bill automatically becomes law after 10 days. However, if Congress adjourns during the 10-day window, the president can choose not to sign and the bill expires. This is called a "pocket veto."

It Could All Start With You!

Have an idea that could help your community?

All laws begin with an idea. And those ideas don't have to come from politicians. Local elected officials often create bills based on proposals from their constituents. If you have an idea for a law that would help your community, reach out to your local representative and let them know!

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