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Political Bell Curve

How Our Laws Are Made


"How Our Laws Are Made" (House Document 110-49); revised and updated by John V. Sullivan, Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives, July 2007.


Reference:  Text directly from


PDF:  How Our Laws Are Made


Reference:  Text directly from


Any font (size, style, etc.) changes from the original are either purely aesthetic or highlights to identify important text.

Table of Contents


I. Introduction


II. The Congress


III. Sources of Legislation


IV. Forms of Congressional Action




Joint Resolutions


Concurrent Resolutions


Simple Resolutions


V.  Introduction and Referral to Committee


VI. Consideration by Committee


Committee Meetings


Public Hearings




Final Committee Action


Points of Order with Respect to Committee Hearing Procedure


VII. Reported Bills


Contents of Reports


Filing of Reports


Availability of Reports and Hearings


VIII. Legislative Oversight by Standing Committees


IX. Calendars


Union Calendar


House Calendar


Private Calendar


Calendar of Motions to Discharge Committees


X. Obtaining Consideration of Measures


Unanimous Consent


Special Resolution or "Rule"


Consideration of Measures Made in Order by Rule Reported from the Committee on Rules


Motion to Discharge Committee


Motion to Suspend the Rules


Calendar Wednesday


District of Columbia Business


Questions of Privilege


Privileged Matters


XI. Consideration and Debate


Committee of the Whole


Second Reading


Amendments and the Germaneness Rule


Congressional Earmarks


The Committee "Rises"


House Action


Motion to Recommit


Quorum Calls and Roll Calls




Electronic Voting


Pairing of Members


System of Lights and Bells


Recess Authority


Live Coverage of Floor Proceedings


XII. Congressional Budget Process


XIII. Engrossment and Message to Senate


XIV. Senate Action


Committee Consideration


Chamber Procedure


XV. Final Action on Amended Bill


Request for a Conference


Authority of Conferees


Meetings and Action of Conferees


Conference Reports


Custody of Papers


XVI. Bill Originating in Senate


XVII. Enrollment


XVIII. Presidential Action


Veto Message


Line Item Veto


XIX. Publication


Slip Laws


Statutes at Large


United States Code



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