Sausage makers? Or U.S. Congress? Do you want to see how they do it?

September 15, 2011

How does a bill become law?

Charts in government and civics texts always amuse me for what they leave out — mostly the political machinations.  Anyone who worked or works in the halls of Congress knows the process is never so clean as Bismarck pretended with his old, misattributed bon mot (actually John Godfrey Saxe, not Bismarck) (and would Bismarck be chagrined at my using a French phrase to describe his words?).

At In Custodia Legis, the blog of the law librarians at the Library of Congress, I stumbled across this post featuring a photograph of a chart hanging in a committee room on the House side.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a copy of that available to teachers?

Andrew Weber wrote the post.

Sometimes the legislative process is a little more confusing than I’m Just a Bill.  As Margaret mentioned in The Curious History of the 2011 Debt Ceiling Legislation earlier this week, sometimes the legislative process takes interesting turns.  Christine also blogged about the unique situation of vehicle bills.  The poster below details the various status steps legislation can take, including Introductory, Committee, Discharge, Calendar, Floor, Conference, and Presidential Steps.

For tips on THOMAS that can relate to the legislative process, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or via email alert.  There is also a glossary in THOMAS to help.

Is the poster available?  I asked, and got this response from Mr. Weber:

This is what it says at the bottom right of the poster:

Committee on House Administration
Wayne L. Hays, Chairman
Prepared by House Information Systems Staff
Frank B. Ryan, Director

Also, on the bottom left it has a date:

Current as of November 1974

Wayne Hayes, the meanest man in the House according to Bud Shuster?  November 1974?  This was pre-scandal Hayes (Democrat of Ohio), just barely post-Nixon Washington. [

If you can find a link to this chart that makes the wording and details legible, or if you happen to find it and can photograph it so we can read it, will you let us know here?

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