As the October 2022 Congress.gov release is primarily focused on internal technical work and improvements to the system, I thought I would take this moment to highlight in depth one of my favorite features of the Congress.gov homepage – the legislative process videos.
A link to the legislative process videos appears on the right hand side of the Congress.gov homepage as you scroll down the page. There are nine videos which detail the steps in the legislative process for the U.S. Congress. These videos were created specifically for Congress.gov. They are meant to provide more detailed information about the legislative process than is available through the beloved “I’m Just a Bill,” but at the same time not go into such a depth of detail that would overwhelm a user.
The nine videos detail the steps in the passage of legislation through Congress, with the first video providing an overview of the process. This introductory video is also available in Spanish. The first video details the broad steps which are part of the legislative process and provides information about the roles of congressional members and staff. The next eight videos provide more in-depth information about each of the steps in the legislative process.
The second video details the introduction of a bill or resolution and the referral to committee. The third video then covers the committee consideration of a bill and the additional documents which may be generated, including hearings, mark-ups and reports. The fourth video covers congressional calendars and how legislation is scheduled for voting. The fifth and sixth videos provide detailed information about how bills are considered on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. Each chamber has its own rules which govern the procedures for debate, offering of amendments, and voting on the passage of a bill or resolution. The video about debate on the Senate floor includes the interesting tidbit that the Senate does not have an electronic voting system but rather still votes by clerks calling the roll – I have often seen this when I have been up late, working the Law Library’s 2 U.S.C. 138 shift.
The seventh video in the series provides information about executive business in the Senate. This refers to the Senate’s consideration of treaties and nominations which, as with legislation, essentially follow the same path from introduction to committee consideration to voting for passage. Unlike legislation however, treaties and nominations are not then referred to the House of Representatives for their consideration.
The eighth video provides users with information about how differences are reconciled if the House and Senate pass different versions of a bill. This can be an important part of the legislative process for a bill and often occurs in relation to large and complex pieces of legislation including annual appropriations. On the other hand, it is important to remember that not every piece of significant legislation needs to go to a conference committee and that conference report is not issued every time. The final video, the ninth, in this series looks at presidential actions on legislation – signing or vetoing a bill and the mechanics of a veto override.
I frequently refer in-person, phone, and digital patrons to this resource as an invaluable way to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with the legislative process. Congress.gov also has a page with additional resources about the legislative process which may be of interest.
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