Laws are fundamental in the smooth running of a nation. The body concerned with the making of laws in the US is the congress, which comprises of the Senate and the House of representatives. The process of law making commences once the congress receives a proposal in the form of a bill or a resolution. A resolution can be joint, concurrent or simple (Sullivan, 2007, p. 16). However, bills are the most customary form employed by the houses. A bill originating from the House of Representatives is designated ‘H.R’ while that originating from the Senate is designated as ‘S’. Additionally, there are two main types of bills-public and private. Just as the name suggests, a public bill affects the public while a private bill affects a specific group of individuals normally in matters such as naturalization and immigration. Law making comprises of several formalities.
The initial step in the law making process is the introduction of the bill. In the House of Representatives, any delegate, member or resident commissioner from Puer-to Rico may introduce a bill at any time when the house is in session (Sullivan, 2007, p. 22). This is not the case in the senate where a senator introduces his/her bill or resolution to the presiding officer’s desk. The clerk of the house then assigns the bill its legislative number. As required by the rules of the House, the speaker assisted by one of the parliamentarians refers the bill to the appropriate committee(s). The bill’s number and the committee referral then appear in the immediate issue of the congressional record. The next step involves the printing and the distribution of the document to both houses as well as the public. One of the copies is sent the Chairperson of each committee to which it had been referred. The clerk of the committee enters the bill on the committee’s legislative calendar. It undergoes section-by-section analysis in different committee stages after which it is introduced to the senate. Before it is presented to the senate for debate, the goes through analysis by the Senate committee, a subcommittee and the full committee. Afterwards, the senate and the House debate and vote for the passage of the Bill. The results and the two versions of the Bill proceed to a conference committee. The final stage entails the president’s approval of the bill.
The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization of 2011, which was introduced on 11/10/201 is one of the bills currently undergoing the legislative process (Jefferson, n.d, p.1). It seeks to amend the Public Health Service Act to increase the nation’s preparedness to some health issues. Such issues include the timely tracking of the initial distribution of federally purchased influenza vaccine in case of a pandemic. It also addresses the expansion of the Centers for disease Control besides improving hospital surge capacity. Its latest action in the law making process is its placement on the Senate legislative calendar. It has to go through the remaining steps, as discussed above, to become a law. My experience in researching this case was quite interesting as I came across a lot of information that broadened my understanding on the making of laws especially in my field of specialization.
In conclusion, the law making process occurs in several stages from the introduction of a bill in the house to its approval by the president. Several committees and subcommittees in both houses play a pivotal role in the process.
Jefferson, T. (n.d). Bill Summary & Status. Retrieved from http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:s1855:
Sullivan, J. (2007). How Our Laws are Made. Washington: U.S Government Printing Office.