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    Sunday, 5 March 2017

    Process of Law making in the Congress

    1. The American Congress   
    The American federal legislature, Congress, is bicameral. It consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate was created to protect the interests of small states and to check the radical tendencies of the lower chamber, the House of Representative. The Senate has the authority to check and correct the democratic recklessness of House and the monarchical ambition of the President. On the other hand the House of Representatives are the traditional lower chamber as we have got the National Assembly in Pakistan and the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.

    2. Drafting of a Bill
    All bills are moved, unlike parliamentary practices, by private members, any member, therefore may introduce as many bills as he likes to initiate. It does not need prior sanction to initiate a bill. proposals for legislation may also come from white House or from different federal departments, though formally through any private member.

    3. First Reading
    When a member wants to introduce a bill, he drops it in the box placed on the table of the clerk.
    First reading of a bill is no reading in fact as the bill is deemed to be read by having its title printed in the journal and in the Congressional record. All the bills introduced are arranged in order and distributed among the members after the publication.

    4. Committee Stage
    There are many committees that consider almost similar matters. At the time of introducing a bill, the mover normally suggests the name of the committee as well. Often the contents of a bill virtually dictate the choice of the committee. Agricultural, matters, for example, will go to the committee on Agriculture. Military matters will go to the committee on Armed Service. The member who introduces the bill also indicates the committee which he thinks ought to deal with it.

    a. Functions of the committees
    The functions of the committees are not limited to the examination of a bill only, they rather exhaustively enquirer into the matters involved. If the committee finds that the bill is not worthy of consideration, it takes no further action and puts the bill back on the committee's files. The bills which the committee thinks worthy of consideration are studied in detail and relevant information is sought from all the sources. The committee also gets information and data from the committee library, the Congress library, official files and heads of departments. It meets in executive (closed) session and may take one of the following decisions:

    (i) It may recommend the bill back to the House just as it stands with a recommendation that it be passed.

    (ii) It may amend the bill and recommend that it be passed with the proposed amendments.

    (iii) It may entirely change the original bill and recommend a new one in its place.

    (iv) It may reject the bill and report that the bill need not be passed.

    (v) It may decide not to make any report at all. In other word it may "pigeon hole" the bill.

    b. Report of the Committees
    After thorough examination of a bill, a committee submits .its report to the House. All the decisions in a committee are taken by majority vote and the minutes of its proceedings are not preserved.

    5. Calendar Stare
    After the receipts of the report by the committee, the clerk puts it in a calendar which is of three kinds.

    a. Union Calendar
    All bills relating to income and expenditure and public property, which are reported favourably by the committees, are put in Union Calendar.

    b. House Calendar
    All public bills, except money bills, are put in House Calendar.

    c. Private Calendar
    All private bills are placed in Private Calendar.

    Consideration on the Floor
    Several devices are used to select bills for consideration out of Calendar order:

    (i) A motion may be made to suspend the rules which must receive a two-thirds vote.

    (ii) Some committees may bring up privileged matters especially revenue and appropriation bills.

    (iii) The Rules Committee may bring in special order for which the backing of a mere majority is sufficient.

    (iv) Bill may be brought for immediate consideration by unanimous consent from the consent Calendar.

    (v) On Wednesdays except during the last two weeks of a session the committees may call up for passage some of their own bills, otherwise unprivileged.

    7. Second Reading

    During the Second Reading of a bill, the clerk reads out the title of the bill and if nobody raises any objection it is deemed to have been passed without further detailed reading otherwise second and third Treading is essential.

    8. Third Reading
    Third Reading is, in fact, a formal process. At this stage only the title of the bill is read; detailed reading is also possible if the members in to this effect. Finally; a vote is taken. If it is affirmative, the Speaker Signs it and second it either to the other Chamber or to the President for his approval, as the case may be.

    9. How Votes are taken.
    Four methods of voting are used by the House:

    (i) The first is voice vote method. This is the usual method but if this is indecisive, or one-fifth f a quorum requests, another method may be used.

    (ii) The second is division method wherein the members are asked to stand and the Speaker counts them.

    (iii) The third is teller method where in the members file past a given point to be counted for or a&nst a bill.

    (iv) The fourth method is Roll-Call method wherein the clerk of the House takes the Roll-Call, each members saying 'yes' or `nay': anti the clerk records the 'yes' or 'nay'.

    Naturally, the last method takes a great amount of House time as each name is called and the vote is recorded.

    10. Consideration in the Senate
    After the bill has been passed by the House, it goes to the Senate for consideration. The President of the Senate refers it to the appropriate committee. The Committee holds hearing on the bill.

    After the committee has considered the bill, it is placed on the Senate Calendar of Bills. The Bills that, are not objected to, are taken up In the order listed in the Calendar. The bills can be called up from the Calendar out of turn also. The second reading of the bills is done in the Senate. It may be noted that Senate does not make use of the Committee of the whole for the second reading of the bill.
    Full discussion takes place and amendments may be proposed. The obstructionists may indulge in filibustering unless 'closure' is applied. After the discussion is over, the President puts the question for engrossment and third reading. Then the question is upon the final passage of the bill. After the votes are taken, the original bill together with the amendments, if any, is returned to the House of Representatives.

    11. Conference Committee
    In case of disagreement, a committee is formed, consisting of members from both the chambers. This Conference Committee tries to explore points of agreement and prepares recommendations for removing the hurdles. Such committees normally consist of three to eleven members, including the mover of the bill concerned.

    12. Presidential Assent
    When a bill is sent for approval the President, he may adopt any of the following options:

    (i) The President may simply give his assent by putting hi signatures on the bill. Thus bill is transformed into law.

    (ii) If the President has nay 'objection, he may refer it back to the House of its origin along with .his suggestions. If both "Houses accommodate Presidential suggestions, the bill is sent against for his assent. But if the Congress does not agree with Presidential suggestions, the bill will have to be passed by a two thirds Majority of both the Houses and as such it will become law without the assent of the President.

    (iii) If the President does not sign a bill nor veto it within ten days and the Congress is still in session, it will become law 'Without the approval of the President.

    13. Financial legislation

    a. Preparing the Budget
    Before 1921, the congress used to introduce the budget; but this method suffered from a serious drawback of undermining the administrative requirements. Consequently, the function to formulate fiscal policy was entrusted to the President.

    b. Role of the Committee
    The budget is introduced in the House of Representatives on behalf of the President Committees of the whole House then examines; items of expenditure and proposals for raising funds. Committee in Supply examines the estimates for expenditure; while the Committee on Ways and Means considers proposals for raising funds viz., income.

    Money bill is then sent to the Senate for its approval. If the latter suggests any alterations in the fiscal estimates, it got to be approved again in the House of Representatives. Finally the bill is sent for presidential approval. The President has the power to approve or reject the bill in to he can't reject any item contained in the budget. Generally, the President gives his assent to the bill as the government department can't afford any delay regarding the approval of expenditure.
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