Law Making Process in US Congress

Question A

The four kinds of committees in the Congress include Standing committees, Joint Committees, Select Committees and Subcommittees. The primary responsibilities of the Standing Committee are,  they consider issues and bills then recommend the right measures for consideration by specific chambers of their own. They have the responsibility of oversight through monitoring the programs, agencies and activities within their authorities and at times sections that are not in their authority but across the committees.  They also recommend and authorize funding levels that are used in the operations of the government and the existing programs. Select Committees carry out studies, investigations and sometimes consider measures. They also investigate non-fitting issues within the standing committees’ jurisdictions. The Joint Committees perform the tasks of housekeeping like overseeing the government offices functions and carrying out studies. Subcommittees have the responsibility of sharing particular tasks that are within their parent jurisdictions.  They operate within the guidelines that are made by the mother committee.

The list of Standing Committees in the House Agriculture Committee, Budget, Ethics, Appropriations, Education and Labor, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services. The other committees in the house are Homeland security committee, Ways and means, Judiciary, Oversight and reform, House administration, Small business, Transport and infrastructure, Science and technology, Veteran’s affairs and Natural resources committee.

The list of Standing Committees in  Senate committees is Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee, Rules and Administration, Budget, Veteran Affairs, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Environment and Public Works, Finance, Energy and Natural Resources, Armed Services, Commerce, Science and Transportation among others.

Question B

The legislative process of making the law looks very sophisticated but relatively simple when using the basic concepts (MSSD, Ch. 12 (pp. 279-286; pp. 291-295)  The following are the steps involved in the lawmaking process. The Bill is drafted by either the Executive Branch, members of the Congress or the outside groups.

  1. A representative of the Congress introduces the bill.
  2. The speaker sends the bill to the Standing committee where the bill is crafted.
  3. Committee Action; this is the point where the bill is carefully examined, and its chances of being passed are determined.
  4. Subcommittee Review; the bill is brought here for study and hearing.
  5. Mark up; after hearing, the subcommittee meets once more to “Mark Up” the Bill. This involves making changes and amendments before the bill is recommended to the full committee.
  6. Committee Action to Report a Bill; the committee does more hearings and study.
  7. Publication of the Written Report; the committee chairman directs the staff to make the Bill’s written report. The report written describes the scope and intent of the legislation, Executives’ position, the existing programs and laws impact and the committee member’s views.
  8. Scheduling Floor Action; here the Bill is fixed within the chronology of the calendar.
  9. Debate; here the Bill is debated over in the House or Senate as per the time allocation given to each member, amendments may be added.
  10. Voting; after the Bill is debated over and the amendments approved the bill is voted and can be passed or defeated.
  11. Referral to other Chamber; if the House or Senate pass the Bill it is referred to the other chamber and follows the same procedure.
  12. Conference Committee; this is the stage that the bill passes only if there are major alterations to reconcile the gap between the Senate and the House.
  13. Presidential Action; the President may approve the Bill by signing, and it becomes a law or veto it.
  14. Overriding Veto; if the president rejects the Bill by veto, it can as well become law if two-thirds of both the houses opt to vote to override the president’s veto.

The affirmative votes needed in the house and the Senate to pass the Bill is 218 votes of the 435 members. To override the presidential veto, the minimum required votes in the Congress is two-thirds votes in each chamber.

Question C

Congressional oversight is the power that the US Congress possess, to monitor and if need be change the actions carried out by the executive branch government including the several agencies.

The specific method or tool used by the legislature to oversight the executive’s management of the bureaucracies is called Government Accountability Office (GAO) tool. The agency provides the legislature, its committees and those heading the executive bureaucracies with the investigative, evaluative and auditing services of the bureaucracies.  The Congress does its oversight responsibility on the bureaucracies in a neutral and fact-based manner to monitor these organisations. GAO delivers to the Congress all the information concerning budgetary issues for all the things and progresses occurring from the housing and security, health care to education, housing to defence among other bureaucracies. The information they receive helps them to see how the executive manages the bureaucracies and jump in for inquiries and correctional measures where necessary. The summary of the budgetary and activities that the bureaucracies send to the committees and subcommittees of both the chambers help the legislature to hold fact-finding, practical and taming hearing missions. The hearings also are used to question the heads of the bureaucracies. The information achieved is consequently used to approve the presidential appointments and control of their funding to each bureaucracy.  Therefore, the oversight and policy implementation criteria are used by the legislature triggers pressure on the executives to carry out proper management of these agencies.

 
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