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SOWK 5357: Social Welfare Policy I: Tracking Federal Bills

Legislature Sources

Legislative Information from the Library of Congress (THOMAS)
(Bills: 1973-Present)

http://thomas.loc.gov

United States Legislative Information (Congress.gov)
(Bills: 2001-Present)

http://congress.gov

Congressional Bills from U.S. Government Printing Office (FDsys)
(Bills: 1993-Present)
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/


House Floor Today

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Federal Legislative Process

In the U.S. and state legislative process is similar. Below is a brief summary and illustration on the legilative process for more detailed  explanation go to  How Our Laws are Made.

1. Bill Introduction & Committe Referal: The bill is introduces in one chamber by a legislator and assigned a bill number e.g for House bill "H.R. 2415" for senate bill "S. 425". The bill is then referred to a committe.

2. Committe Action: Committes often refer the legislation to a subcommitte which may request reports about the subject, hold hearings, propose changes, an report to full committee. The bill will go to the entire body if the Committe favorably reports out the bill.

3. Committe Report: Committee writes a report of the bill containing its intent, impact, legilative history and position of the majority of committe's members.

4. Floor Devates and Voting: Speaker of House and the Majority Leader of the Senate determine if and when bill be presented before the chamber for debate and final passsage. They are ifferent rules of procedure govering debate in the House an Senate.

5. Referal to the Other Chamber: Once a bill is passed in one chamber it is referred to the other chamber where it usually follows the same route through committe an floor action. The chamber may approve bill as received, reject it, or amend it before passing it.

6. Conference: When House an Senate versions of a bill are significatly ifferent a conference committe is appointed to reconcile diferences between the two versions. If conferees are unable to reach agrrement bill dies , id agreement is reached  a report is prepared both House and Senate must approve of the conference report or the bill dies.

7. President's Decision: The final bill is sent to the President if he signs bill becomes law. The presient has ten ays to take action if he opposes it he can veto it; or, if he takes no action after the Congress has adjourned its second session, it is a "pocket veto" and the legislation dies.

8. Overriding a Veto: If the President vetoes a bill, Congress may decide to attempt to "override the veto." This requires a two-thirds roll call vote of the members who are present in sufficient numbers for a quorum.

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Finding Bills

In THOMAS search by combination of keyword, subject, sponsor/co-sponsor or stage in legislative process. Results are organized by congressional session.

In Congress.gov search by keyword or bill number using appropriate prefix. Limit yor result using facets on left side of your result list.

In FDsys search by keword, category and citation select the most appropriate collection to search on for example "Congressional Bills".

*  In Gov.track.us browse bills by subject in their Bills & Resolution feature.

*  In Open Congress browse bills by issue.

Senate Floor Today

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