How Does Congress Make Laws?

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11176

Congress rules! Well, actually, Congress makes the rules! The house, senate, and president all have a part in making federal laws, and you have the right to suggest bills! Try it out in this lesson!


Civics, United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Why can't some tyrant just take over the presidency and make up whatever laws he or she wants?

It doesn't work that way! Laws are created in a very long and tough process that starts with Congress.

  • What is one law you think should be passed?
  • Who do you think would be for it?
  • Who would be against?

Write a brief proposal, just a few sentences, and then let's get into the process of making laws!

So, you've got a great idea for a law.

A lot of people have ideas for laws. They may have noticed a gap in the current law, or perhaps the changing circumstances of life have created the need for a new law. The rise of the Internet, for example, created the need for lots of new legislation and the clarification of old legislation.

Law is always evolving, and the process of making laws goes on and on, so your idea for a law has a chance! It's a small chance, to be quite honest, but let's see how this process works and take our chances.

Before you go any farther, think about the following questions and write down your thoughts:

  • What is the step-by-step process for making a law?
  • Why do so few bills make it through the whole process to become law?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this process?

Watch How a Bill Becomes a Law: Crash Course Government and Politics #9 and find out more about the process of law-making. Revisit the questions above and write down any new information you uncovered that helps you answer them:

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You can also check out the Constitution! Examine Article I: Legislative Branch, courtesy of the National Constitution Center. Revisit the questions above and add any new information you gathered.

Reflect and discuss with a parent or teacher:

  1. What laws do they think should be made?
  2. What laws do they think should never have been made?
  3. What is the role of Congress in American government?
  4. How effectively does Congress fulfill that role?

Now that you know a bit more about the process, you can take a look at some real, live bills and develop your own opinions about some of the ideas for laws that are making their way through Congress right now!

Head to the Got It? section to see what's going on in Congress right now!

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