Act of Congress

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An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by the United States Congress. It can either be a Public Law, relating to the general public, or a Private Law, relating to specific institutions or individuals.

Statute Formal written document that creates law

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.

Contents

The term can be used in other countries with a legislature named "Congress", such as the Congress of the Philippines.

A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political parties or other groups. The term, originally denoting a parley during battle in the Late Middle Ages, is derived from the Latin congressus.

Congress of the Philippines parliament

The Congress of the Philippines, is the national legislature of the Philippines. It is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate, and the House of Representatives, although colloquially, the term "congress" commonly refers to just the latter.

Public law, private law, designation

Private Law 86-407 Private Law 86-407.jpg
Private Law 86-407
Public Law 86-90 (STATUTE-073-1-2), Page 212 Page 212 from STATUTE-073-1-2 Public Law 86-90.pdf
Public Law 86-90 (STATUTE-073-1-2), Page 212

In the United States, Acts of Congress are designated as either public laws, relating to the general public, or private laws, relating to specific institutions or individuals. Since 1957, all Acts of Congress have been designated as "Public Law X-Y" or "Private Law X-Y", where X is the number of the Congress and Y refers to the sequential order of the bill (when it was enacted). [1] For example, P. L. 111-5 (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) was the fifth enacted public law of the 111th United States Congress. Public laws are also often abbreviated as Pub. L. No. X-Y.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), nicknamed the Recovery Act, was a stimulus package enacted by the 111th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2009. Developed in response to the Great Recession, the ARRA's primary objective was to save existing jobs and create new ones as soon as possible. Other objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most affected by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and renewable energy.

111th United States Congress 2009–2011 legislature of the United States

The One Hundred Eleventh United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government from January 3, 2009, until January 3, 2011. It began during the last two weeks of the George W. Bush administration, with the remainder spanning the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. It was composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The apportionment of seats in the House was based on the 2000 U.S. Census. In the November 4, 2008 elections, the Democratic Party increased its majorities in both chambers, giving President Obama a Democratic majority in the legislature for the first two years of his presidency. A new delegate seat was created for the Northern Mariana Islands. The 111th Congress had the most experienced members in history: at the start of the 111th Congress, the average member of the House had served 10.3 years, while the average Senator had served 13.4 years.

When the legislation of those two kinds is proposed, it is called public bill and private bill respectively.

In the legislative process, a public bill is a bill which proposes a law of general application throughout the jurisdiction in which it is proposed, and which if enacted will hence become a public law or public act.

A private bill is a proposal for a law that would apply to a particular individual or group of individuals, or corporate entity. This is unlike public bills which apply to everyone within their jurisdiction. Private law can afford relief from another law, grant a unique benefit or powers not available under the general law, or relieve someone from legal responsibility for some allegedly wrongful act. There are many examples of such private law in democratic countries, although its use has changed over time. A private bill is not to be confused with a private member's bill, which is a bill introduced by a "private member" of the legislature rather than by the ministry.

Usage

The word "act", as used in the term "Act of Congress", is a common, not a proper noun. The capitalization of the word "act" is deprecated by some dictionaries and usage authorities. [2] Some writers, in particular the U.S. Code, capitalize "Act". This is likely a result of the more liberal use of capital letters in legal contexts, which has its roots in the 18th century capitalization of all nouns as is seen in the United States Constitution.

United States Code official compilation and codification of the United States federal laws

The Code of Laws of the United States of America is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States. It contains 53 titles. The main edition is published every six years by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives, and cumulative supplements are published annually. The official version of those laws not codified in the United States Code can be found in United States Statutes at Large.

"Act of Congress" is sometimes used in informal speech to indicate something for which getting permission is burdensome. For example, "It takes an Act of Congress to get a building permit in this town." L

Promulgation (United States)

An Act adopted by simple majorities in both houses of Congress is promulgated, or given the force of law, in one of the following ways:

Promulgation is the formal proclamation or declaration that a new statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final approval. In some jurisdictions, this additional step is necessary before the law can take effect.

  1. Signature by the President of the United States,
  2. Inaction by the President after ten days from reception (excluding Sundays) while the Congress is in session, or
  3. Reconsideration by the Congress after a presidential veto during its session. (A bill must receive a 23 majority vote in both houses to override a president's veto.)

The President promulgates Acts of Congress made by the first two methods. If an Act is made by the third method, the presiding officer of the house that last reconsidered the act promulgates it. [3]

Under the United States Constitution, if the President does not return a bill or resolution to Congress with objections before the time limit expires, then the bill automatically becomes an Act; however, if the Congress is adjourned at the end of this period, then the bill dies and cannot be reconsidered (see pocket veto). In addition, if the President rejects a bill or resolution while the Congress is in session, a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Congress is needed for reconsideration to be successful.

Promulgation in the sense of publishing and proclaiming the law is accomplished by the President, or the relevant presiding officer in the case of an overridden veto, delivering the act to the Archivist of the United States. [4] After the Archivist receives the Act, he or she provides for its publication as a slip law and in the United States Statutes at Large. [5] [6] Thereafter, the changes are published in the United States Code.

An Act of Congress that violates the Constitution may be declared unconstitutional by the courts. The judicial declaration of an Act's unconstitutionality does not remove the law from the statute books; rather, it prevents the law from being enforced. However, future publications of the Act are generally annotated with warnings indicating that the statute is no longer valid law.

See also

Related Research Articles

A veto is the power to unilaterally stop an official action, especially the enactment of legislation. A veto can be absolute, as for instance in the United Nations Security Council, whose permanent members can block any resolution, or it can be limited, as in the legislative process of the United States, where a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate will override a Presidential veto of legislation. A veto may give power only to stop changes, like the US legislative veto, or to also adopt them, like the legislative veto of the Indian President, which allows him to propose amendments to bills returned to the Parliament for reconsideration.

A pocket veto is a legislative maneuver that allows a president or another official with veto power to exercise that power over a bill by taking no action.

Copyright Act of 1790 copyright statute of the United States

The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first federal copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had passed various legislation securing copyrights in the years immediately following the Revolutionary War. The stated object of the act was the "encouragement of learning," and it achieved this by securing authors the "sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copies of their "maps, charts, and books" for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14-year term should the copyright holder still be alive.

Bill (law) proposed law

A bill is proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act of the legislature, or a statute. Bills are introduced in the legislature and are discussed, debated and voted upon.

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983), was a United States Supreme Court case ruling in 1983 that the one-house legislative veto violated the constitutional separation of powers.

In the United States Congress, a joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires passage by the Senate and the House of Representatives and is presented to the President for his approval or disapproval. Generally, there is no legal difference between a joint resolution and a bill. Both must be passed, in exactly the same form, by both chambers of Congress, and signed by the President to become a law. Only joint resolutions may be used to propose amendments to the United States Constitution and these do not require the approval of the President. Laws enacted by joint resolutions are not distinguished from laws enacted by bills, except that they are designated as resolutions as opposed to Acts of Congress.

A repeal is the removal or reversal of a law. There are two basic types of repeal, a repeal with a re-enactment of the repealed law, or a repeal without any replacement.

Archivist of the United States chief official of the National Archives and Records Administration

The Archivist of the United States is the official overseeing the operation of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The first Archivist, R.D.W. Connor, began serving in 1934, when the National Archives was established as an independent federal agency by Congress. The Archivists served as subordinate officials of the General Services Administration from 1949 until the National Archives and Records Administration became an independent agency again on April 1, 1985. The position is held by David Ferriero, who was named to the office in 2009.

<i>United States Statutes at Large</i>

The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large and abbreviated Stat., are an official record of Acts of Congress and concurrent resolutions passed by the United States Congress. Each act and resolution of Congress is originally published as a slip law, which is classified as either public law or private law (Pvt.L.), and designated and numbered accordingly. At the end of a Congressional session, the statutes enacted during that session are compiled into bound books, known as "session law" publications. The session law publication for U.S. Federal statutes is called the United States Statutes at Large. In that publication, the public laws and private laws are numbered and organized in chronological order. U.S. Federal statutes are published in a three-part process, consisting of slip laws, session laws, and codification.

Presentment Clause United States Constitutional clause governing how bills are passed into laws by Congress

The Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution outlines federal legislative procedure by which bills originating in Congress become federal law in the United States.

Title 1 of the United States Code outlines the general provisions of the United States Code.

References

  1. "About Bills, Resolutions, and Laws". LexisNexis. 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008. About Public Laws
  2. Bartleby.com Archived March 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine 2Infoplease.com Cambridge.com Merriam-Webster.com "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. See 1 U.S.C.   § 106a, "Promulgation of laws".
  4. 1 U.S.C.   § 106a, "Promulgation of laws".
  5. 1 U.S.C.   § 113, "'Little and Brown's' edition of laws and treaties; slip laws; Treaties and Other International Acts Series; admissibility in evidence".
  6. 1 U.S.C.   § 112, "Statutes at Large; contents; admissibility in evidence".