come 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.

§ 165. The Constitution does not prescribe the mode of enacting laws; that is determined by the rules and practice of the Senate and House of Representatives. Bills may originate either in the Senate or the House of Representatives, except they be bills for raising revenue, which, as we have just seen, must originate in the House. The general mode of passing bills in both bodies is quite similar, though not in all respects the same. It will be sufficient, for an understanding of the subject, to refer more particularly, as an illustration of the manner of enacting laws, to the course pursued in the House of Representatives.

§ 166. By the rules of the House, a bill, which is the original form or draft of a law proposed to be enacted, may be introduced into the House in the report of a committee, or upon a motion by a member of the House for leave to introduce it. In the latter case, at least one day's notice of the motion must be given, or a memorandum thereof filed with the clerk and entered on the journal. But the rule in regard to the introduction of bills on leave is rarely practised; nearly all the bills not regularly

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

reported by a committee are introduced with or without consent, as the case may be.

§ 167. By another rule, every bill shall receive three several readings previous to its passage, and no bill can be read twice on the same day without the special order of the Ilouse. The first reading is for information, and if opposition is made, which is not usual, however, at the first reading, the question is put, "Shall this bill be rejected?” If no opposition is made, or if the question to reject be negatived, the bill goes to its second reading without any motion for that purpose; and in such cases the actual practice is for the second reading to take place forthwith, immediately after the first reading, it being understood that it is by the special order of the House. The whole bill is not, in point of fact, read, but only its title, for members are informed of the contents of the bill by printed copies of it, which are furnished to them, except in the case of bills introduced on leave, which are never printed until reported back from the committee to which they may have been referred, which is after the second reading, as every bill is read twice before it is referred.

§ 168. Upon the second reading of a bill, it may, according as the House shall determine, be committed, that is, referred, either to a select committee, or a standing committee, or a committee of the whole house; or it may be ordered to be engrossed, that is, copied on paper in a fair round hand, and a day be appointed when it shall be read a third time. According to the uniform practice of the House for many years, whenever a bill is ordered to be engrossed it is immediately read the third time. It is usually engrossed in advance; but whether engrossed or not. it is considered as engrossed, a question as to the fact of engrossment being seldom if ever raised.

§ 169. If the bill be committed, after it has been con sidered by the committee, it is reported back to the House, either with or without amendments, which are adopted or rejected by the House, as it sees fit. After amendments are disposed of, the bill must be ordered to be engrossed, and is then ready for the third reading, at which the vote is taken on its final passage.

§ 170. After its passage, the bill is signed by the Speaker, and sent to the Senate for concurrence. If the Senate refuse to concur, the bill fails to become a law. Or the Senate may pass the bill with amendments, and it is then returned to the House, where the amendments may be concurred in, and the bill as amended be passed. But if the House refuse to concur in the amendments of the Senate, the bill will then fail.

§ 171. In case, however, of amendments in one body, which are disagreed to in the other, a committee from both is appointed at the request of either, termed a committee of conference, in which the reasons for and against the amendments are freely discussed, and such conference frequently results in a compromise or adjustment of views, which is reported to the Senate and House respectively by its committee of conference.

§ 172. After a bill has passed both bodies, it is enrolled on parchment by the clerk of the House of Representatives, or by the secretary of the Senate, according as the bill may have originated in the one body or the other, and the enrolment is then compared by a joint committee of the Senate and House, with the engrossed bill as passed, for the purpose of correcting errors, if there be any, in the


$173. After that committee has thus examined the enrolment, and has so reported, the enrolled bill is signed,

hrst by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and afterward by the President of the Senate; an endorse ment is made upon it, certifying whether the bill originated in the Senate or the House of Representatives, and it is then presented by the committee to the President of the United States for his approval, the day of such presentation being entered on the journal both of the Senate and the House.

§ 174. If the President approves it, he signs it; if he does not approve it, he returns it, together with his objections in writing, to the house in which it originated. His power is confined to the approval or rejection of bills; he cannot propose any amendments in them. The power of the President to object to bills and refuse to sign them, is commonly known as the veto power.

§175. In ancient Rome there was a body of officers called the Tribunes of the People, whose proper object was the protection of the people against the encroachments of the Senate and Consuls. In the earlier times of their existence, they could not enter the Senate, but had their seats before the door of the Senate-room, where they heard all the deliberations, and could hinder the passage of any decree by the single word veto, which is a Latin word, signifying I forbid.

§ 176. In England, the king possesses an absolute veto, though it is rarely exercised, which prevents the passage of the law against which it is exerted. The President's veto is not absolute, but qualified. It has no other effect than to cause the legislature to reconsider the proposed law and examine it more carefully, and to suspend or delay its passage until two-thirds of the members of each house agree to pass it.

$177. The object of the veto is to enable the President

to protect the executive department of the government against the encroachments of the legislative department, and sc to prevent his constitutional authority from being weakened or taken from him. It is also intended to be used to check the passage of rash, improper, and unconstitutional laws, and laws enacted without due consideration, as in times of temporary political excitement or violent party spirit.

§ 178. The objections of the President are to be entered on the journals of the house in which the bill originated, in order that they may be permanently recorded and preserved. The vote upon the passage of the law is required to be taken by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill are entered upon the journals, so that the members may be induced to vote with more care and deliberation.

§ 179. If, upon reconsideration, the bill is passed by a vote of two-thirds of the house in which it originated, it is then to be sent, together with the President's objections, to the other house, where it is also reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of that house, it becomes a law without the signature of the President, and notwithstanding his objections.

§ 180. If the President could retain a bill, which had been sent to him, for an indefinite period of time, without affixing his signature, its passage might thus be prevented or delayed. It is, therefore, provided that, if it shall not be returned by him within ten days, (Sundays excepted,) it shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless he be prevented from returning it by the adjourn ment of Congress, in which case it shall not become a law.

§ 181. An act of Congress goes into effect the day on

« ForrigeFortsett »