Like a senior in high school making up missing work at the end of the semester, the 111th Congress is working at a frenetic pace to finish its legislative work by the end of its term in January.
With so much legislation coming down the pipeline, mistakes can happen. For instance, the Senate passed sweeping food safety legislation in November, but members of the House pointed out that this type of tax legislation is mandated by the Constitution to start in the House. The fix was made, and now the legislation appears headed for passage through the correct process.
Just in case you get confused by the swirling legislative action, we’ve provided a check to keep track of where legislation is in this complicated process.
1. Has the bill been introduced by a Representative in the House?
2. Has the bill been introduced by a Senator in the U.S. Senate?
3. Did the legislative process for tax laws start in the House?
Assigned to a Committee
1. Has the bill been assigned to an appropriate House standing committee by the Speaker of the House?
2. Has the bill been assigned to an appropriate Senate standing committee by the Senate Majority Leader?
1. Has the bill been reported favorably by House committees?
2. Has the bill been reported favorably by Senate committees?
Scheduled for debate with appropriate rules
1. Has the House Rules Committee scheduled the bill on the House debate calendar with rules for the debate in this chamber?
2. Has the Senate Majority Leader scheduled the bill on the Senate debate calendar with rules for debate in this chamber?
Debated and voted on the floors of each chamber
1. Has the bill been debated on the floor of the House and approved by a majority of 435 House members?
2. Has the bill been debated on the floor of the Senate? Have 60 Senators agreed on cloture to limit that debate? Has the bill been approved by a majority of 100 Senators?
The identical bill passes each chamber
1. Are the bills identical?
2. If not, has a Conference committee worked to resolve the differences?
3. If so, has this reconciliation bill passed a majority of each chamber?
The bill moves on for presidential action
1. Has the President signed the bill within 10 days?
2. Has Congress been able to override any presidential vetoes with 2/3rds support in each chamber?