Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



The Making of Our Laws

The US Capitol is a familiar landmark to people around the world. But do we know as much about the inside as we do about the outside? Let’s take a peek at what goes on there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

lawLet’s Make a Law

The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress. We elect the men and women who work here. The Congress is a bicameral, or two chambers, arrangement — one chamber is called the House of Representatives (the people who work there are called representatives) and the other is called the Senate (the people who work there are called — that’s right — senators.)

There are always 100 members of the Senate, but the House changes size — right now it has 435. That’s due to something called the Great Compromise: Every state always has two members in the Senate, but in the House, a state has Representatives in proportion to how many people it has. For example, California has 53 Representatives while Vermont has only 1.

Representatives and senators are called legislators, which means they are the ones who create the laws. (A law is a rule that everyone in a state or country must follow. An amendment is a change to a law.)

Congress makes laws that affect the entire nation, like deciding if the country needs stronger defenses. Imagine if a few members of the House of Representatives feel that the country needs a new army plane. What do they do? 

First they write down their idea in a legal format. Instead of “build new planes,” the law says: “Sec. 113. Multiyear procurement authority for airframes for Army UH-60M/HH-60M helicopters and Navy MH-60R/MH-60S helicopters” (that’s part of an actual law called the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012).

Then they put the law into a box called the “hopper” (nope, it’s not shaped like a frog), and a clerk gives it a number and the initials “HR” if it was introduced in the House and “S” if it was introduced in the Senate. Now the idea is called a bill, and the Government Printing Office makes copies and gives them out to each member of the House.

 

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without