This week in class we will be discussing Congress. Congress is the dominant branch of the government that is in responsible for creating bills and passing them into laws, overseeing the Federal Bureaucracy and making the national budget. In a recent article, the Associated Press describes how Congress is making progress in the development of a solution to the current problems with Medicare. On September 17, members of Congress set October 17 as the target date to reach a compromise. In addition, Bush says Medicare drug legislation will be passed before the end of the year.
Although this bill deals with Medicare, which if a very important and controversial topic, most bills will never become laws. In fact, according to Welch in American Government, only as much as 9 percent of bills are actually passed. Of the bills that are passed, many are not serious issues and many are private bills that involve only few people. The reason for the low number of bills passed is that the majority of Congress must agree to the bill. This is also the reason why the end result is almost always a compromise, just as Congress is now doing with the Medicare prescription drug bill.
The process of turning a bill into a law is a lengthy process that includes formal steps, informal negotiations, discussions and compromises. The formal steps are the steps that are necessary to go through in order to make a bill a law. The first step is the introduction of the bill to the House of Representatives or the Senate, only by a member .
of Congress. After the bill is introduced, the Speaker of the House refers it to a standing committee. The function of the committee is to block bills that stand little chance of being passed. If the bill is able to make it through the committee, it next goes to the Rules Committee to set the terms of debate over the bill (Welch).
The next step for a bill to become a law is the Debate, which takes place in the House.