U.S. House of Representatives has passed the health care bill. Next the Senate must do the same, reconciling their bill with the House bill.
I think our Congresspersons should stay in session all the rest of this year, if need be, so they can complete a citizens assignment to get a bill to President Obama for signature by December 31, 2009.
Happens in business quite frequently where special projects require employees to work long hours, days, even weekends sometimes, for successive weeks to meet a deadline. Our Congresspersons have postponed addressing the health care issue for years and years, so an end of the year deadline is not unreasonable now, finally. If our Senators and Representatives really concentrate, don't waste time with political blather, posturing,and game-playing, maybe they can be home for the holidays, or sooner. That's an incentive employees in business often are given.
Representatives and Senators work for us. We need to let them know we're way past the point of tolerating their "business as usual" approach to legislation important to us -- we mean business! Each of us has power with our vote that can affect whether or not they are re-elected come Election Day.
Here's a refresher course describing Congressional bills evolution from birth to realization. This is the process I recall learning from Jr. High/High School civics/government classes.
A Congressperson writes a bill or receives one written by a lobbyist that is then presented to Committee for consideration. If the proposed bill garners Committee passage it can then be presented to that Congressperson's House or Senate membership. Wikipedia effectively provides the following description beginning with a bill in Committee:
"A decision not to report a bill amounts to a rejection of the proposal. Both houses provide for procedures under which the committee can be bypassed or overruled, but they are rarely used. If reported by the committee, the bill reaches the floor of the full house. The house may debate and amend the bill; the precise procedures used by the House of Representatives and the Senate differ. A final vote on the bill follows.
"Once a bill is approved by one house, it is sent to the other, which may pass, reject, or amend it. In order for the bill to become law, both houses must agree to identical versions of the bill. If the second house amends the bill, then the differences between the two versions must be reconciled in a conference committee, an ad hoc committee that includes both senators and representatives. In many cases, conference committees have introduced substantial changes to bills and added unrequested spending, significantly departing from both the House and Senate versions. President Ronald Reagan once quipped, "If an orange and an apple went into conference consultations, it might come out a pear." If both houses agree to the version reported by the conference committee, the bill passes; otherwise, it fails.
"After passage by both houses, a bill is submitted to the President. The President may choose to sign the bill, thereby making it law. The President may also choose to veto the bill, returning it to Congress with his objections. In such a case, the bill only becomes law if each house of Congress votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Finally, the President may choose to take no action, neither signing nor vetoing the bill. In such a case, the Constitution states that the bill automatically becomes law after ten days, excluding Sundays. However, if Congress adjourns (ends a legislative session) during the ten day period, then the bill does not become law. Thus, the President may veto legislation passed at the end of a congressional session simply by ignoring it; the maneuver is known as a pocket veto, and cannot be overridden by the adjourned Congress."