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Article I, section 7: A Bill Becomes Law

The bill-to-law process illustrates the Constitution’s separation of powers and system of checks and balances. Federal laws are written in Congress. Proposed laws for raising revenue must originate in the House. All proposed laws, or bills, must pass both houses of Congress with a majority vote. Once that happens, the bill is sent to the president, who can either sign it or veto it (refuse to sign it). If the president signs it, the bill becomes law. If the president returns the bill to Congress, Congress can override the president’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.

The bill can also become law without the president’s signature if ten days pass without it being returned to Congress. If the president does not sign the bill and does not return it to Congress, but Congress adjourns within ten days, the bill does not become law. (This is known as a pocket veto.)