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3.3f Factors influencing voting decisions

Several factors influence the legislators in their voting decisions. They may be influenced by the unwritten rules of Congress, the merits of a bill, or their own expertise or specialization in the area of legislation. Under the practice of logrolling legislators may vote for each otherís bills, when the bill does not affect their constituency. This practice aids pork-barrel legislation that helps a congressional district or state in appropriating federal funds.

Members of the Congress also vote according to party loyalty. Others yield to the insistence of pressure groups. Lobbyists are paid professionals who carry out this task. They influence legislators who may be given funds and volunteers in their election campaigns by groups such as industrial trade associations, unions, political activists and environmentalists. The President may also appeal for a vote for or against a bill.

Finally, the constituents (voters represented by the legislator) may also influence that particular memberís vote. However, a Congress memberís personal convictions are the final word on his voting decisions.


3.3g The Conference committee and action by the President

All bills have to pass both houses in the same form before it is enacted as a law. If both houses agree to a major part of the legislation, but there are differences between the Senate and the House versions, the bill can be submitted to a conference committee, whose members are appointed by the presiding officer in each house. The conference committee may suggest a compromise on matters of disagreement, but it cannot change what the houses have already agreed upon. The bill is then submitted to the two houses that may or may not accept it. After it receives the approval of both the Senate and the House, it is forwarded to the President for the final procedure.

3.3h Final stages

When the bill has passed both houses, it is enrolled by being printed on parchment, by order of the house where it originated. The committee on House Administration and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration then check for any errors in it. The speaker first signs the enrolled bill, and next the presiding officer of the Senate receives it for his signature. Finally the bill is sent to the President of the United States.

3.3i Action by President of the US

If the President accepts the bill he can sign it. In this case it becomes a law. If he does not sign the bill, after ten days, however, it anyway becomes a law without his signature. The President is empowered to veto the bill and return it to the house in which it has originated along with his objections. For instance, he/ she may find that the bill has unsuitable riders. In such a case, the house has to approve the bill by a two-thirds vote. It is then sent for the consideration of the other house. If it is approved by two-thirds of the members there as well the bill becomes a law without the Presidentís signature. However, if it fails to receive two-thirds vote in either house, the bill is considered dead.

The President can also subject the bill to a pocket veto. This is done when the session of Congress is coming to an end. If the Congress adjourns before the President has had the bill for ten days, it cannot become a law without the Presidentís signature. Something like this occurred in 1996. The President was given a line-item veto by a federal law, according to which, he could reject certain sections of the bill.

Index

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Powers of Congress

3.2 The Organization of Congress
3.3 How a Bill becomes a Law

Chapter 4





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