Legislative Process

How Congress Works

Congress, composed of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, has the authority and ability to make laws and declare war on other countries. Members of the House of Representatives, like Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, are elected by the people for two year terms. There is no limit on the amount of terms a representative can serve. To date, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has served seven consecutive terms in Congress and is currently serving in her eighth term.
Representation in the House of Representatives is determined by the population of a state. This means that states with larger populations will have more representatives than states with smaller populations. There are currently 435 members of Congress.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

A proposed law, also known as a bill, is created by a Congressional representative. This bill is then presented to the appropriate House committee that handles the relevant issue.
Once reviewed by the House committee, the bill is then sent to the Floor of the House to be debated.
If approved, the bill is then sent to the Senate for the same procedures.
If both the Senate and the House of Representatives approve the bill, it is then sent to the President for approval.
If the President decides to approve the bill, he signs it, and it  becomes law. If the President decides to use his power of veto, the bill is not signed into law and it is sent back through the process of becoming a law all over again.

Loretta's Job

As an elected member of Congress, Congresswoman  Loretta Sanchez serves as a representative of the California districts of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Fullerton, and Santa Ana.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez serves as a liaison between the federal, local, and state governments, creating an open and transparent line of communication for her constituents. 

Committee Reports

The House of Representatives divides its work among over twenty permanent committees.  Normally, before a piece of legislation is considered by the House it has been reviewed by at least one of the committees and a report is issued by that committee describing the legislation and indicating (on section-by-section basis) how the proposed statute changes existing statutes.  Congress divides its work among over two hundred committees and subcommittees, each of which issues regular reports on its activities.

Committee Hearings

After a bill is introduced on the House or Senate floor, it is referred to the committee of jurisdiction (i.e., the committee charged with reviewing measures in the area of law or policy with which the bill is concerned).  The committee of referral most often sends the measure to its specialized subcommittee(s) for study, hearings, revisions and approval.

For most bills, the committee or subcommittee fails to take further action on the referred bill, effectively "killing" the measure at this point.  (Occasionally, a committee will report a measure "unfavorably," with explicit recommendations against its passage, or it will report a bill "without recommendation," which has the same effect as an unfavorable report.)

If the bill passes the subcommittee with a favorable vote, it is sent back to the full committee for further consideration, hearings, amendment and vote.


Federal Laws

The U.S. Code is the official compilation of the current Federal statutes of a general and permanent nature. The Code is arranged according to subject matter under 50 subject headings ('titles').  The Code sets out the current status of the laws, incorporating all amendments into the text. Prior to being added to the U.S. Code, individual laws are published in pamphlet form as "slip laws" which are later collected together in chronological order (not in subject order) as the Statutes at Large.

Proceedings of the House

The Congressional Record is the official transcript of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress.  The full text of the Congressional Record is published the day after each meeting of the House or Senate.  Learn more about the Congressional Record.  A summary of what is currently happening on the Floor of the House is available as the debate occurs.  You can also view the House Floor schedules for this week and the House calendar for the current year.

Roll Call Votes

A roll call vote records how each Member of the House voted, but only a minority of bills receive a roll call vote.  Learn more about compiling a Member voting record and how to read the roll call information.

Rules and Precedents of the House

The House Rules and Precedents are the official documents that spell out the process by which legislation is considered by the House and its committees; as well as specifying the authority of the officers and committees of the House.  Several collections of material explaining the rules and precedents are available through the House Rules Committee:

Schedules of the House

Various schedules of upcoming House activities are available. On a daily basis, there is the Majority Whip's Daily Whipping Post. On a weekly basis, there is the Weekly House Program prepared by the Clerk of the House On an annual basis, there is the House Schedule compiled by the Clerk of the House and the Majority Whip's annual House Calendar.

Before a proposed piece of legislation can be considered by the House of Representatives, it must first be sponsored by a Member of Congress (either a Member of the House or a Member of the Senate).  Members of Congress who are not the primary sponsor of a piece of legislation may express their strong support for the legislation by becoming a co-sponsor of that legislation.  Learn more about the legislation that I sponsored or co-sponsored.