Reposted from Get Engaged ~ Congress.Org 


Anyone may draft a bill; however, only members of Congress can introduce legislation, and by doing so become the sponsor(s). There are four basic types of legislation: bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions. The official legislative process begins when a bill or resolution is numbered – H.R. signifies a House bill and S. a Senate bill – referred to a committee and printed by the Government Printing Office.

Step 1. Referral to Committee
With few exceptions, bills are referred to standing committees in the House or Senate according to carefully delineated rules of procedure.

Step 2. Committee Action
When a bill reaches a committee it is placed on the committee’s calendar. A bill can be referred to a subcommittee or considered by the committee as a whole. It is at this point that a bill is examined carefully and its chances for passage are determined. If the committee does not act on a bill, it is the equivalent of killing it.

Step 3. Subcommittee Review
Often, bills are referred to a subcommittee for study and hearings. Hearings provide the opportunity to put on the record the views of the executive branch, experts, other public officials, supporters and opponents of the legislation. Testimony can be given in person or submitted as a written statement.

Step 4. Mark Up
When the hearings are completed, the subcommittee may meet to “mark up” the bill, that is, make changes and amendments prior to recommending the bill to the full committee. If a subcommittee votes not to report legislation to the full committee, the bill dies.

Step 5. Committee Action to Report A Bill
After receiving a subcommittee’s report on a bill, the full committee can conduct further study and hearings, or it can vote on the subcommittee’s recommendations and any proposed amendments. The full committee then votes on its recommendation to the House or Senate. This procedure is called “ordering a bill reported.”

Step 6. Publication of a Written Report
After a committee votes to have a bill reported, the committee chairman instructs staff to prepare a written report on the bill. This report describes the intent and scope of the legislation, impact on existing laws and programs, position of the executive branch, and views of dissenting members of the committee.

Step 7. Scheduling Floor Action
After a bill is reported back to the chamber where it originated, it is placed in chronological order on the calendar. In the House there are several different legislative calendars, and the Speaker and majority leader largely determine if, when, and in what order bills come up. In the Senate there is only one legislative calendar.

Step 8. Debate
When a bill reaches the floor of the House or Senate, there are rules or procedures governing the debate on legislation. These rules determine the conditions and amount of time allocated for general debate.

Step 9. Voting
After the debate and the approval of any amendments, the bill is passed or defeated by the members voting.

Step 10. Referral to Other Chamber
When a bill is passed by the House or the Senate it is referred to the other chamber where it usually follows the same route through committee and floor action. This chamber may approve the bill as received, reject it, ignore it, or change it.

Step 11. Conference Committee Action
If only minor changes are made to a bill by the other chamber, it is common for the legislation to go back to the first chamber for concurrence. However, when the actions of the other chamber significantly alter the bill, a conference committee is formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. If the conferees are unable to reach agreement, the legislation dies. If agreement is reached, a conference report is prepared describing the committee members recommendations for changes. Both the House and the Senate must approve of the conference report.

Step 12. Final Actions
After a bill has been approved by both the House and Senate in identical form, it is sent to the President. If the President approves of the legislation he/she signs it and it becomes law. Or, the President can take no action for ten days, while Congress is in session, and it automatically becomes law. If the President opposes the bill he/she can veto it; or, if he/she takes no action after the Congress has adjourned its second session, it is a “pocket veto” and the legislation dies.

Step 13. Overriding a Veto
If the President vetoes a bill, Congress may attempt to “override the veto.” This requires a two thirds roll call vote of the members who are present in sufficient numbers for a quorum.

Reposted from Get Engaged ~ Congress.Org 


A New Age of Online Advocacy
Daunting title, isn’t it? So what do we mean?

A quick review
Contact with constituents has always been a central function of any legislator’s office. The issue since the late 1990s though has been the level of communication arriving at a legislator’s door. With the advent of email, constituent letters multiplied exponentially with every passing year. While email made it easy for constituents to reach out to their elected representatives, unfortunately it also made it incredibly simple for non-constituents to flood the inbox of any legislator’s office. As more and more legislators began to block incoming email, the simple web form became the preferred method of communication.

Demanding an address, something they couldn’t do over email, the transition to web forms was aimed at reducing the level of noise generated from non-constituent communications as well as streamlining the analysis of incoming messages. As more and more offices transitioned to the web form specific workflows could be implemented on the legislator’s side, filing each submission quickly and ensuring that constituent’s communications were responded to promptly.

Unfortunately, the switch to web forms also distanced legislators even further from their constituency. What was once a personal hand-written letter is more often than not now simply a standardized web form submission. It’s with that in mind that CQ Roll Call has continued to push forward developing a new era of advocacy and engagement.

CQ Roll Call’s Capwiz was one of the first in the market to address the need to contact legislators online. From the early days of email, Capwiz was there to assist organizations in allowing their stakeholders to quickly and easily contact legislators on the issues. As legislators moved away from email, so did CQ Roll Call, tailoring a backend system that delivered messages either directly to Hill offices through specific channels or through the web forms that have since become a standard.

Our system and the team of professionals that support it, ensure that any messages sent through our tool are delivered. The numbers only serve to support our methods, our system delivered more than 25.5 million messages to Capitol Hill last year alone at roughly a 95% first time success rate. This rate of successful delivery is more than 15% higher than our competition. In short, our close relationship with the Hill ensures that our client’s messages get through.

So What’s Changed or Pushing Forward
As web-forms became ubiquitous and messaging turned to a more standardized format, the personalized feel was lost. While that suited some legislators, others depended on that constituent connection not only as part of their day to day business but also as part of a larger reelection strategy.

On the Congressional side, as messaging began to inundate offices, a larger picture of the impact of any legislation had to be told. While offices now have a better handle on direct mail and email/forms coming in to the office, the advent of Twitter, Facebook and other social media has created a new glut of messaging to the Hill. Effective messaging and advocacy now means combining these efforts into a cohesive strategy and ensuring that a clear goal is in mind. Yes, each of these tools is powerful on their own, but their utility comes when used in conjunction with one another. As organizations layer in video, hashtags, Facebook shares, issue breakdowns and more alongside raw numbers, they can begin to create a that dynamic full picture of the issue, one which a legislator and their staff can quickly grasp and act upon.

To create this new class of legislative interaction, the Virtual Lobbyist, we need to create an environment that breeds education and engagement for an organization’s stakeholders. Battling the glut of (mis)information at their fingertips, organizations have had to look at new and compelling ways to build trust and thought leadership with their audience. As tools like Twitter add to the continual news cycle, users are finding content online through any number of outlets. Fractured communities are forming with opinions being made.

The cycle has to stop. The question is, why can’t your organization be that central location for information? By integrating fully licensed news content from over 4500 sources that’s been filtered on your organization’s issues, we create a backbone for your organization’s advocacy effort.

Build trust and thought leadership through education and engagement. Place a New York Times story on Energy alongside talking points, whitepapers and a take action button. No longer will your users and stakeholders feel that they only hear from you when you want them to act on an issue. Only through that trust can we gather the user generated content (stories shared, petitions signed, videos made) that is needed to address legislators in language which they’ll understand. It’s with that in mind that we’ve created the full engagement platform.

Leveraging the following components into one cohesive engagement platform, we look to educate, engage and activate users on your issues, addressing each one at their own pace and creating an ecosystem that begins to support itself through constant news updates, social media and user content.

Individual Methods of Contact
Emailing Congress
Calling Congress
Tweeting your Legislator
Personal Visits

Share your Story


This is so incredibly easy to use, to search for a Congressional bill, the details of that bill, and ask your representative to either approve or oppose that bill.

It was created by The Sunlight Foundation.

Founded in 2006, the Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all. 
Visit to learn more.

Here are the steps that we went through to investigate a bill we would like to see become Congressional law :
Latest Title: Fallen Wildland Firefighters Fair Compensation Act of 2013 
Fallen Firefighters Fair Compensation Act

 Go here, enter your Congressional bill search criteria:

This is what the bill we wanted to know about looks like, and we can "Vote on the Bill", by asking our Congressional representative to take action to either support or oppose the bill we are interested in becoming law. 
One click. How easy is that?
Pretty cool.

This is what we found when we clicked on "Read the Rest":




Text of the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act

H.R.3533 - Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act
113th Congress (2013-2014)

S.1731 - Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act
113th Congress (2013-2014)

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