American Government How Does a Bill Become Term Paper

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  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Term Paper
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American Government

How does a bill become a law? Please explain where bills originate and how they go through the process. Also include information about the role of interest groups and political parties in bill formation.

Before a piece of legislation can become a law, the initial proposal, called a bill, must go through a process of debate and approval by both houses of the United States Congress. The initial step is for the individual who comes up with the idea for a new law must present his or her suggestion to their colleagues (Egan 6). This person becomes the sponsor for that law as he or she was the initial supporter of that idea. More than one person can become the sponsor of a bill, showing their additional support of that bill. The proposed bill is then placed in the hopper. Once the bill is read and officially proposed in the House of Representatives, it goes to committee for revision (Sullivan 4). The committee process can either be very expeditious or it can languor in subcommittee. Once the committee has voted on the law, it goes to the floor so that all the Representatives can vote on it. There are three methods by which a vote on a bill can be conducted: viva voce (voice vote), division wherein the Speaker of the House asks the Representatives who support the bill to stand up and be counted and then those in opposition are similarly counted, and the recorded method wherein an electronic device is used to cast votes by the Representatives.

After being passed by the House of Representatives, the bill is then sent to the Senate floor. Again, the bill is sent to committee for revision and debate before it is put to the Senators to vote on whether or not the bill should become a law. Once passed by the Senate, the bill goes to the President of the United States. He or she has two courses of action to choose from: sign the bill or veto it. If the President signs the bill then it becomes a law. If the President rejects the bill and vetoes it, the bill goes back to the House of Representatives. When the bill is vetoed, the House and Senate must re-pass the bill, this time with a 2/3 majority vote rather than a simple majority. If 2/3 of each house votes for the bill, the President's veto is overridden.

These are the basic criteria for how a bill becomes a law, but what influences the decisions whether to vote yes or no on a particular piece of legislation is also important to understand. The members of Congress are supposed to vote the way they feel that their constituents want them to vote. However, that is often not the case. The United States government is a two-party system. That is to say, those in positions of political power are either Republican or Democratic. Only by making connections within the party, can a person hope to reach higher positions of power. With this being the case, individuals are unwilling to upset the leaders of the party because of how it will affect their careers. Voting on bills often happens along party lines rather than because of the opinions or principles of the individual. Representatives and Senators bow down to their party or to a special interest group. These are groups of people who provide money or other perks to the politician in exchange for their support on certain issues. Some examples of special interest groups are the tobacco industry and the automobile industry.

2. What significant political events have occurred historically to address the needs of a diverse U.S. population? What do you see as the challenges for the future in regards to addressing the needs of a diverse U.S. population?

There have been many issues regarding diversity in population in the United States, such as the Civil Rights issue and slavery. Currently the U.S. is facing issues regarding the topic of illegal immigration and those who have come to the United States from Mexico or Russia without documentation. In the past, the civil rights of the oppressed populations have determined the required legislation that needs to be passed. In the present moment, many states have tried to pass legislation to deal with the illegal immigration in the country. This issue will only continue to be a problem in the coming years.

It is believed that more than "three million illegal immigrants enter the United States every year" (Elbel). This number accounts for immigrants who have entered that country illegally from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the majority are from Mexico and other Latin American nations. It is a fact that more immigrants are currently in the United States illegally than their legally immigrated counterparts (Kahn). Residing predominantly in areas where their ethnic groups has a high population, the growing illegal immigrant population is forcing even illegal immigrants to move to other parts of the nation.

Now when the term illegal immigrant is used, most people think of Mexican crossing the border and coming into the United States. While this is how most illegal residents get into America, there are actually three types of illegal immigration (New 21). The first way is through illegal entry into the country. The second form of illegal immigration is staying in the States beyond the period authorized from a visa; such as a student who comes to a America on a student visa and then remains longer than they were allotted. This form of illegal immigration has been the focus of INS investigation since many of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks came from this very group. The third type of illegal immigration is when a person violates the terms of what had been their legal entry into the country, such as someone coming to the United States on a vacation and then remaining to get jobs and live in the United States. This third form is becoming more and more used by Eastern Europeans and those from Asian countries. They come to the United States on a vacation permit, usually to visit a legal family member. Then they just don't go back to their original country. It is estimated that about 45% of the illegal immigrant population came from this group, known as "overstayers" (Modes). This last form is the most difficult for immigration officials to deal with because there is no record of a person's activities without accurate passports and so it is very challenging to determine how long a visit has lasted.

According to the National Research Council, "the average immigrant without a high school education imposes a net fiscal burden on public coffers of $89,000 during the course of his or her lifetime. The average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000" (Elbel). When you multiply this number by the millions of illegal immigrants in this country, the economic drain becomes more apparent. Steven Camarota, who is a member of the National Research Council, argues that potentially the best way to combat illegal immigration is through amnesty (Camarota). Were the immigrants made citizens, he argues, they would be subject to the same legal restrictions and tax demands are the rest of the United States.

3. The American system of nominations and primary elections is one of the most complex in the world. List the major steps in being nominated for public office in the U.S., including who is eligible, how the candidates are elected, how the candidates get their messages to the people, how the primary system works, and what role the electoral college plays.

In the United States, in order to be nominated for the position of President of the United States, an individual must be over the age of thirty-five and be a natural-born citizen of the U.S. The United States Constitution forbids anyone who was not born in America from becoming President (United). Although not stated explicitly in the Constitutional requirements, it is also important that the person has education in the law and in political science and has held a position of some power already. A track record as an effective politician is necessary to prove potential as an effective President.

Individuals who want to run for President have to make themselves known to the public. Support from the general population will make it more likely that the political party will support you in a national election. Once a person has a foundation of support, he or she should try to make him or herself as visible to the public as possible, explaining their viewpoint as a political candidate at every juncture.

In an election year, a primary is held eight months before the election. There are open and closed primaries. In an open primary, all the candidates are listed and the voter chooses which person he or she wishes to vote for, no matter what political party they belong to.…

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