How Does a Bill Move Through the U.S. House of Representatives?

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A bill is first introduced by any member of the House of Representatives, then it goes to a committee for study before possibly being added to the House calendar for debate, amendments and then a final vote. If a bill is passed, it goes to the Senate for consideration. A conference committee between both chambers is needed if the Senate passes a different version of the House bill.

When a piece of legislation is introduced, it goes to a committee where the bulk of time is spent on the bill. Hearings may be held, data is gathered and subcommittees may report their findings on the bill. If a committee votes in favor of the legislation, it moves to the full House for debate.

Bills are placed on a calendar so members of Congress know when the legislation is up for debate. The Speaker of the House decides which bills come to the floor of the full House. Time for debate is limited by the Rules Committee. Amendments can be added, then the chamber votes on the legislation. A simple majority of 218 "yes" votes out of 435 members is required for passage.

After these steps are taken, the bill moves to the Senate. A simple majority is needed there to pass the law on to the president. If the Senate makes changes, the legislation goes into a conference committee. A conference committee is comprised of members from both the House and Senate to work out differences between the two pieces of similar legislation. Both chambers must approve the conference committee's report before the bill goes to the president's desk for approval or veto.