How a Bill Becomes a Law: Learn How to Get Involved by Starting with the Basics

How a Bill Becomes a Law: Learn How to Get Involved by Starting with the Basics

The SAA believes in active participation in advocacy and the legislative process, and encourages its members to contact their congressional representatives to discuss legislation impacting the profession of audiology. As SAA members, we talk often about existing legislation, but it also helps to learn the basics, such as how a piece of legislation originates.

Do you remember singing along to Schoolhouse Rock’s video, “I’m Just a Bill” and learning about the journey a bill takes through the government to become a law? It seems quite easy for the bill to become a law in the video, but in reality, there are a few more steps and obstacles. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several years.

Getting involved is extremely important and a great way to start is with the basics.

Below is an overview of what happens at the federal level. For a quick description of the process, check out: US House Website

A bill is a law awaiting approval. Anyone can write legislation, but only Members of Congress can introduce them. Whether a bill originates in the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, the process is the same but reversed from this example. If it originates in the House:

  1. The House of Representatives gives this bill a number and assigns committee(s) with jurisdiction to review the subject matter. For example, the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees typically have jurisdiction over health-care related legislation and would be referred health-care related bills upon introduction.
    • Committee: Revisions can be made before approval or rejection.
      • Approved? Sent to the House floor for debate.
  2. The House of Representatives can change and revise before the vote.
    • Bill is passed with 2/3rd majority or a simple majority vote (218 of 435).
  3. Senate receives the bill next and repeats this process, assigning a number and committee(s) with jurisdiction over its subject.
    • Committee: Revisions can be made before approval or rejection
      • Approved? Sent to the Senate floor for debate
  4. Senate can change and revise before the vote.
    • Bill is passed with 2/3rd majority or a simple majority vote (51 of 100)
  5. The President can then sign the bill into law or veto it.
    • If 10 days pass and the President fails to take action, the bill becomes a law. However, if Congress adjourns before this, the bill fails.

Why should you get involved?

Your representatives only support bills that their constituents support. Voting in favor of bills that are important to the people they represent; that’s how they keep their jobs!

If we don’t inform them of the issues we care about, how will they be motivated to vote in favor of our legislation?

GET INVOLVED!

Remember –current legislation will affect you as a future Audiologist!

For more information on current legislation: visit the following websites:

American Academy of Audiology

The Academy’s Legislative Action Center

The Academy’s Political Action Committee (PAC)