How a Bill Becomes a Law in the 21st Century

Legislative Process By Kevin R. Kosar January 1, 2024


Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-NC) has a short and illuminating post on how he got a law enacted to create parental leave for fathers and adoptive who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

School House Rock it wasn’t.

He had to get his bill on the last legislative train leaving Washington, DC—-the National Defense Authorization Act.

Along the way, Rep. Jackson had to rework the bill so that it could avoid being referred to four committee (a certain death) and endure the anxiety of a conerence committee (would his amendment be cut from the conference text?).

Although the process was not quite textbook, it wasn’t utterly unorthodox lawmaking. And that a first-term Democrat in a Republican-held House of Representatives was able to get a sensible policy enacted into law—we hould feel good about that. Congress is not, contrary to what some doomers say, utterly broken.

Kevin R. Kosar (@kevinrkosar) is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the co-editor of “Congress Overwhelmed: Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform” (University of Chicago Press, 2020). He hosts the Understanding Congress podcast.


Stay in the know about our news and events.