Study Guide

Constitution - Article 1, Section 7

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Article 1, Section 7

Clause 1. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

All tax and tariff legislation must originate in the House of Representatives, although the Senate retains its normal power to amend any bill sent to it from the House. In modern practice, this requirement isn't very significant.

Clause 2. Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

How a bill becomes a law: Both houses of Congress have to pass it, then send it to the president. If the president signs it, it becomes law. If the president vetoes it, it goes back to Congress, where a two-thirds vote can override his veto. Or, if the president simply does nothing, the bill becomes law without his signature after ten days. (Not counting Sundays, of course.) If Congress adjourns less than ten days after sending the president a bill, he can apply a so-called "pocket veto" simply by refusing to sign it; the normal provision by which a bill becomes law even without presidential signature after ten days does not take effect if Congress adjourns before the ten days are up. Still confused? Watch the cartoon!

Clause 3. Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Joint resolutions of Congress are special measures passed under special circumstances, unlike regular bills of law. They're still supposed to be sent to the president for his signature, however; a joint resolution signed by the president has the force of law. A simple resolution of Congress not sent to the president for his signature does not have the force of law.

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