Making Laws

Due to a special event, on Wednesday, July 8, there will be no tours of the U.S. Capitol after 11 a.m. Emancipation Hall and Exhibition Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center will be unavailable all day. While reservations prior to 11 a.m. will be honored, same-day passes will not be available. The Capitol Visitor Center will close at noon except for individuals on official business and those going to the House and Senate Galleries.

There are many different ways, both simple and complex, in which a bill becomes law. One way in which this happens is:

  • A member of Congress introduces a bill into his or her legislative chamber.
  • The presiding officer of that chamber refers the proposed legislation to one or more committees, depending on its subject.
  • Committee members review the bill and decide whether to hold public hearings, to combine it with related draft legislation, to propose amendments, to recommend that the chamber in which it was introduced consider it favorably, or to set it aside for possible later review.
  • If the committee, or committees, return the bill to the chamber of the body in which it was introduced, members debate the measure and may consider further amendments.
  • The bill is then considered by the full chamber. If it passes, the measure is referred to the other chamber, where this process begins anew.
  • When a majority in the House, and in the Senate, agree the bill should become law, it is signed and sent to the president.
  • The president may sign the act of Congress into law, or he may veto it.
  • Congress can then override the president's veto by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate thereby making the vetoed act a law.

Photo of House RostrumPhoto of Senate Rostrum