Intelligence Law School - Course 1: Lesson 4.2.1 How a Bill Becomes a Law [HTML-Only]


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LESSON 4: STATUTORY LAW


4.2 Enactment and Publication of Federal Statutes


4.2.1 How a Bill Becomes a Law


Lecture Audio



Annotated Lecture Transcript

4.2.1 How a Bill Becomes a Law

The process by which a bill becomes a law is governed by Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution.

 

Ø  Bicameralism and Presentment: “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States;

Ø  Signature or Veto: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.

Ø  Veto Override: If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law.

Ø  Pocket Veto: If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”

 

o   They call this situation the “pocket veto.”

o   When Congress is in session and has passed a bill and presented it to the President, he has 10 days to sign it or veto it.

o   If he does nothing, it becomes law unless Congress has adjourned before the 10 day period is up.

o   If they’ve adjourned before the 10-day period expires and the President hasn’t signed the bill, the legislation dies.

§  This is a way for the President to veto legislation without having to veto it.

§  It’s only an option less than 10 days away from the end of a session of Congress, so his window is pretty small.

 

So, that’s it. That’s how a Bill becomes a law—or more specifically, how a Bill becomes an Act.

If it’s not clear, you should read through the text of Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution; I’ve put the full text in the footnotes to the transcript of this lecture,[1] and there’s also a copy in the statutory supplement online at IntelligenceLaw.com.[2]

 

Ø  School House Rocks: I’m Just a Bill: If it still seems confusing you should go on YouTube and watch the Schoolhouse Rocks video on how a bill becomes a law.

o   I think it’s called “I’m just a Bill.”[3]

 

Ø  The Simpsons: I’m an Amendment to Be: There’s also an even better Simpsons version, which is a parody of the School House Rocks Video: I’m just a bill.

o   It’s about the Amendment ratification process for making changes to the Constitution. It’s very well done.[4]

 

Footnotes

[1] U.S. Const., art. I, § 7, Cl. 2 (“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”).

[2] David Alan Jordan, Statutory Supplement for U.S. Intelligence Law (2010), available at https://intelligencelaw.com/files/pdf/law_books/statutory_supplement_for_us_intelligence_law_2010.pdf.

[3] I’m Just a Bill, Schoolhouse Rock!, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ.

[4] I'm an Amendment to Be - The Simpsons, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjpN1MNO1bc.

 


© 2012 David Alan Jordan. All rights reserved.