Thursday, 1 November 2007
The traditional guides to the legislative procedure in Congress describe a simple process in which a bill is introduced; referred to Committee; considered and marked up, placed on the calendar then debated in the full chamber and passed. The bill is then sent to the other House for a similar process. Differences between the House and Senate versions are resolved by a conference committee - and their version is voted on in both Houses. The measure is then sent to the President for signature. The process is outlined (with an example) at
In recent years however many bills have followed variants of the 'normal' procedure. Barbara Sinclair, in her excellent book "Unorthodox Lawmaking" now in its third edition : http://www.cqpress.com/product/Unorthodox-Lawmaking-New-Legis.html
outlines how practice has latered in recent years. She explains why new practices have become the norm - with more emphasis on negotiations and compromises before and during passage - with less discussion and amendment on the floor - and how the party leadership has been more closely involved in the legislative procedure. The many different procedures are outlined and explained.