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US Government

How Laws are Made

The U.S. government has a number of laws that help to keep order and protect the people of the country. Each new law must be agreed upon by both houses of Congress and the President. Every law goes through a specific process before it is officially a new law of the country.

An Idea

Each law starts out as an idea. These ideas can come from many different places including special interest groups, the President, members of Congress, and regular citizens.

Writing a Bill

The next step is that the idea must be written down and explained. This first draft of the idea is called a bill. The bill then needs a member of Congress to sponsor the law. The sponsor is someone who believes strongly in the bill and wants to see it turned into a law. The sponsor can either be a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

United States Capitol Building by Unknown

Introduction in Congress

The sponsor then introduces the bill either to the House or the Senate. Once the bill has been introduced it is assigned a number and officially recorded as a bill.


After being introduced, the bill is sent to a committee. Committees are smaller groups of congress that are experts in certain areas. For example, if the bill has to do with the classroom size in public schools then it would be sent to the Committee on Education. The committee discusses the details of the bill. They bring in experts from outside the Congress to give testimony and debate the pros and cons of the bill.

Before passing the bill, the committee may decide to make changes. If the committee finally agrees to pass the bill, it will then move on to the main chamber of the House or Senate for approval.

House Approval

If the bill began in the House it will first go to the House for approval. The representatives will discuss and debate the bill. Then the members of the House will vote on the bill. If the bill passes, then it will be sent to the Senate.


The Senate will then go through the same process. It will discuss and debate the bill and then take a vote. If the bill passes through the Senate, it will then be sent to the President.


The final step in a bill becoming a law is the president's signature. Once the president signs the bill, then it officially becomes a law.

President Bush signs Rosa Parks Statue Bill
by Paul Morse

The president can decide to not sign the bill. This is called a veto. The Senate and House can choose to override the president's veto by taking another vote. In order to override the veto, however, the bill must now pass both the Senate and House by a two-thirds majority.

The president has 10 days to sign a bill into law. If he doesn't sign it within 10 days then one of two things can happen:

1) If Congress is in session it will become a law

2) If Congress is not in session it will be considered vetoed (this is called a pocket veto).

Interesting Facts about How Laws are Made Activities To learn more about the United States government:

Branches of Government
Executive Branch
President's Cabinet
US Presidents

Legislative Branch
House of Representatives
How Laws are Made

Judicial Branch
Landmark Cases
Serving on a Jury
Famous Supreme Court Justices
John Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Sonia Sotomayor
United States Constitution
The Constitution
Bill of Rights
Other Constitutional Amendments
First Amendment
Second Amendment
Third Amendment
Fourth Amendment
Fifth Amendment
Sixth Amendment
Seventh Amendment
Eighth Amendment
Ninth Amendment
Tenth Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment
Fifteenth Amendment
Nineteenth Amendment
Checks and Balances
Interest Groups
US Armed Forces
State and Local Governments
Becoming a Citizen
Civil Rights

Voting in the United States
Two-Party System
Electoral College
Running for Office

Works Cited

History >> US Government

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