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I’m Just A Bill

The old Schoolhouse Rock lesson “I’m Just a Bill” provides a quick introduction to the legislative process. However, there is more detailed information available through the Law Library of Congress on the legislative process.

How a bill becomes a law. Having completed his draft of the law-to-be, Representative Maverick introduces his bill by dropping it in the hopper provided for that purpose. A representative may introduce a bill on any subject he chooses. Senators are not permitted to introduce revenue bills as they must originate in the lower House. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

There is a Legislative Process page in THOMAS which contains links to very detailed guides: the House of Representatives’ “How Our Laws Are Made” and the Senate’s “Enactment of a Law.” The House.gov website also has a section on The Legislative Process, with each step broken down into manageable parts.

If you’re confused about what any of the terms mean, there’s a helpful Congressional glossary on THOMAS. If you’re looking to stay with the kid’s theme, there is a simple guide to “How Our Laws Are Made” from the Kids in the House website.

Curious about what happens after a law is passed? Every public and private law passed by Congress is published in the United States Statutes at Large in order of the date it was enacted into law. The laws are arranged by Public Law number and are cited by volume and page number. As Andrew has previously mentioned, additional years (1951-1980) of the United States Statutes at Large have now been digitized and are now available on FDsys. In addition, the originals of all legislation are sent to the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives.

2 Comments

  1. kel
    June 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I use most of these resources to teach my first year legal research students about legislative history. Hopefully, some of it sticks.

  2. Brittany
    January 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    FYI – the first schoolhouse rock link is no longer good.

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