Are you ready for the nitty-gritty? Yeah, me, either, let’s do this the easy way. Click on the embedded links if you want specifics (like EVERY step in the process outlined in detail). Then, read on for the general outline and you won’t have the desire to stab yourself in the eye with hot pokers. OKAY!

Someone has to write the bill, and then it gets sent to a committee. It’s a smaller number of people than the entire House/Senate. These people discuss whether or not this bill is even worth being brought to the floor. One of these days, I’ll do a post discussing committees, their worth or lack thereof, why they were a good idea in the first place or not, etc. For now, just know they are there, and this is what they do.

Once a bill is brought to the floor for a vote (and about 15 procedural steps later…only slight exaggeration), the chamber in which it was started votes on it.

Then, if it passes by a simple majority, it trucks over to the other chamber to be voted on there. Here’s where it gets sticky. If the Senate starts it, and passes it, the House can change it, pass THAT VERSION and then send it BACK for another vote from the Senate. It’s like ping-pong, only WAY more boring to watch. Generally, this is when congresspeople who want the bill signed (or don’t) start accusing the “other guys” of holding little children and grandparents hostage, and the like.

When I was a kid, my mom and dad would read “Stop That Ball” by Mike Mcclintock. This boy’s ball gets whacked out of his yard and they run all over town trying to capture the ball, as it keeps getting kicked, thrown, or blasted out of his reach. At one point, the boys says, “Could this go on all day and night? It could you know, and it just might!” That’s how bills go, too.

So, once it’s been nailed down by both chambers, and they both pass it, it goes to the president. If he feels it’s all good to go (or at least politically expedient to sign it…don’t get me started on that…), he signs and VOILA!, a law is born. Like human birth, it’s almost never pretty – miraculous, but not pretty. Some laws being born are uglier than others.

However, if the POTUS says, “Nope,” the process goes BACK to the congress and they have to get two-thirds of both houses to vote for it to override the veto.  Usually, the POTUS writes why he nixed it, and the politicians go out and grandstand about how bad the POTUS is without even reading his response, typically. That’s how they roll. And, we keep electing them. Yikes.

Anyway, while this process seems quite straight forward, you still get horrid politicians who want to go around the rules. (Who says character matters??) For example, the Obamacare law. Well, that has a couple of snags.

First, the Constitution does not allow for the federal government to get involved in anything that is not delegated to it (see my post on the 10th Amendment for clarification, as well as Article 1, Sections 8, 9, & 10 of the Constitution), and this healthcare bill is most assuredly NOT in the “to do” list for the feds.

The other problem is that it started in the Senate. Normally, no biggie. And, it was stated emphatically by those promoting the bill to have not been a tax. “NOT A TAX!!” they proclaimed. Then, the SCOTUS opined that it was constitutional because it was…wait for it…a TAX. Hmmm…

Since ALL spending and tax bills have to originate in the House, where does that put us? In Illegallawville, that’s where!