The conference committee is supposed to consider only the parts of a bill on which there is disagree- ment, but sometimes it makes important changes in the bill or adds provisions not previously considered by either chamber. A majority of the members of the conference committee from each house drafts the final bill, called a conference re- port . Once accepted, this bill can be submitted to each house of Congress for final action. Presidential Action on Bills Article I 1 of the Constitution states that: “ Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it be- comes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States . . . . ” —Article I, Section 7 After both houses of Con- gress have approved a bill in identical form, it is sent to the president. The president may sign the bill, and it will become law. The president may also keep the bill for 10 days without signing it. If Congress is in session, the bill will become law without the president’s signature. Most of the time, however, presidents sign the bills that Congress sends them. Vetoing Bills The president can also reject a bill with a veto. In a veto the president refuses to sign the bill and returns it to the house of Congress in which it originated, along with reasons for the veto. The president may also kill a bill passed during the last 10 days Congress is in session by refusing to act on it. This veto is called a pocket veto . Congressional Override of a Veto Congress can override a president’s veto with a two-thirds vote in both houses.If this happens,the bill becomes law.It is usually difficult to get the necessary two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, so Congress does not override vetoes very often. Line-Item Veto Presidents since Ronald Rea- gan have sought the power of the line-item veto, a CHAPTER 7: CONGRESS AT WORK 187 See the following footnoted materials in the Reference Handbook: 1. The Constitution , pages 774–799. Seal of the U.S. Congress U.S. Capitol
law is then added to the United States Code of cur- rent federal laws. Tracking Legislation on the Internet An online information resource called THOMAS, after Thomas Jefferson, provides access to current information about all legislation being considered by Congress.THOMAS allows you to search the full text of all versions of House and Senate bills by either bill number or keyword.Another section of this database provides the full text of the Congressional Record, committee reports, summaries of bills and updates on their status as they move through the legislative process, and the history of bills. Not everything about legislation appears on THOMAS. Bills do not appear in the database until they are published in an official version by the Government Printing Office. As a result, drafts of bills,committee recommendations,and the “chair- man’s mark,”the version of a bill as it goes through a markup session, are not available.
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