The U.S. Congress makes federal laws for the nation. Congress has two legislative bodies or branches: the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here are eight steps in making a law:

  1. Laws begin as an idea of a Senator or Representative. He/she produces a rough draft of the plan and sponsors it, which makes it a bill.
  2. The bill then goes to whichever legislative branch (Senate or House) the Senator or Representative belongs for study.
  3. If released by the committee, the bill is put on a calendar to be voted on, debated or amended.
  4. If the bill passes by a simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate.
  5. In the Senate, the bill is assigned to another committee and, if released, debated and voted on. Again, a simple majority (51 of 100) passes the bill.
  6. A conference committee made of House and Senate members works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The resulting bill returns to the House and Senate for final approval.
  7. The Government Printing Office prints the revised bill in a process called enrolling. The bill then goes to the President.
  8. The President has ten days to sign or veto the enrolled bill.