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How a Bill Became a Law…in 1950

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Ah, September. The first hints of cooler fall weather, football season starts, and baseball pennant races heat up…even as we ruefully acknowledge that Washington Nationals fever isn’t quite where it was last year. For those of us who toil in the federal vineyards, September also marks the end of the fiscal year.

I recently attended a mandatory three day training session on the Principles of Federal Appropriation Law. The government’s budgeting process might not be especially transparent, but the class did help me understand the logic behind fiscal regulations and how we can more effectively plan our own budgets here at the NAVCC. It was interesting to trace how a budget proposal becomes an appropriation.

In a similar vein, pretty much anyone who ever took a civics class is familiar with the concept of how a bill becomes a law, and we have several films in our collection about that process (none quite as memorable as the Schoolhouse Rock! version, but that’s the gold standard). But here’s a pretty good one from 1950 that follows the passage of agricultural legislation. It features such notables as Vice President Alben Barkley, legendary House Speaker Sam Rayburn, and Senator Robert Taft. It’s rather quaint in its portrayal of a political environment in which Democrats and Republicans congenially hammer out their differences in order to–as the narrator puts it–“ensure that the legislatively process runs smoothly.”

A Day in Congress (Instructional Films, 1950)

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