< How a Bill Becomes a Law... These Days


Friday, March 26, 2010

BOB GARFIELD: Many observed that after this week that Schoolhouse Rock classic, How a Bill Becomes a Law, is due for a rewrite. So, here it is.

BILL: Hey, kids! I’m Bill the bill!

[MUSIC UP AND UNDER] Want to hear how I might become a law?


BILL: It’s simple. Just follow along. Come on!

[SINGING] Someone writes me. I get a sponsor. Committee’s where I go first. Once through committee, I go to the floor, and that’s where they debate.

CHILD: Sounds fun!

BILL: Totally.

[SINGING]: Then they vote. They vo-o-o-te.

MAN: It’s a vote!

MAN: All in favor say aye.

MAN: Aye.

MAN: All opposed, no.

BILL: If I pass here, off to the Second House of Congress. Then I go to you know who.

CHILD: The president?

BILL: Yup!

CHILD: And just like that, you’re a law?

BILL: Well, unless -

[SINGING] I get tied up in a series of dilatory motions, nuisance amendments and quorum calls,

[CHORD] pison pills or filibusters.

CHILD: Poison pills? That’s scary.

CHILD: What’s a phillip-busters?

BILL: Don't worry about those.

[SINGING] With the cloture vote you can cut off debate. You just need a super majority in the Senate. If you don't have 60 votes you can shove it through with plenty of parliamentary tactics.

CHILD: Gosh, is that fair?

BILL: Sure, it’s fair! They're all in the rules somewhere.

CHILD: Is it over then?

BILL: Yeah. Once the bill is signed by the president, and sent back to the Senate to vote on the differences in the reconciled legislation, unless the parliamentarian rules that any of the bids to be reconciled fail the Burr test. Then it goes back to the House for another vote and if it passes, it’s a law. It’s that simple!

CHILD: Bill?

BILL, SINGING: Now it’s a law. Now it’s a law. Look, Bob - come over here.

BOB: Oh, all right.

BILL: Come on, sit at the mic.

GROUP SINGS: Now it’s a law. Now it’s a law. It’s not a bill anymore. Now it’s a law, not a bill anymore.

BILL: Unless it’s overturned by the Supreme Court five to four.