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Learning About the Legislative Process

The United States Constitution (Article I, Section I) grants all legislative powers to the Congress, which consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate also has "advise and consent" privileges in matters of treaties and nominations. The sources listed below include descriptions of the legislative process, a compendium of Senate rules and procedures, and a more detailed analysis of specific aspects of the process.

Riddick's Senate Procedure (1992)

Enactment of a Law  

Guide to Senate Legislative Processes (Congressional Research Service, Feb. 2002)

Nominations -- The Senate has the responsibility to review and approve or reject presidential appointees to executive and judicial branch posts. Learn more about the history of the Nomination Process from this article by the Senate Historian.

Treaties -- The Constitution gives the Senate the power to approve, by a two-thirds vote, treaties made by the executive branch. Learn more about Treaties from this article on the Senate History page.

Filibuster and Cloture -- Using the filibuster to delay debate or block legislation has a long history. This article discusses the origin of the filibuster and some of its most famous applications.

How a bill becomes a law - flowchart

This flow chart provides a visualization of the legislative process within the United States Senate.  

One Way a Bill Becomes a Law

Standing Rules of the Senate

The Senate Rules, maintained by the Senate Rules Committee, were revised April 27, 2000 and published as Senate doc.# 106-15

Standing Rules of the Senate


Organizational Chart

This chart shows the relationships among Senate leaders and officers who manage the flow of legislative and administrative business in the Senate.  

How to Find A Bill

There are several ways to read the text of bills, including Web and print resources. Use this guide to learn how to find copies of bills.

fVetoed Legislation

For information on vetoed legislation take a look at the Virtual Reference Desk entry on Vetoes.

Budget Process

The annual government budget process consists of three main phases: development of the president’s budget; congressional approval of appropriation legislation; and execution of the budget.  This report will give you an overview of the budget process.