- Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a
statuteenacted by the United States Governmentand is legally empowered by the United States Constitution. The legislationis passed, and therefore becomes federal law, when it receives a simple majority in both houses of Congress and is subsequently signed by the President. A majority of representatives in both the lower house, the House of Representatives, and the upper house, the Senate, must vote for the legislation and the President must sign it before it is declared federal law.
Paths to Promulgation
A statute or resolution adopted by both houses of Congress must pass through one of the following processes in order to become law:
# Signature by the
President of the United States,
# Inaction by the President after ten days from reception (excluding Sundays) while the Congress is in session, or
# Reconsideration by the Congress after a Presidential
vetoduring its session. (A bill must receive a 2/3 majority vote in both houses to override a president's veto).
The President "promulgates" acts of Congress made by the first two methods. ["ACT" is uncapitalized unless citing the proper name of a particular Act, such as the
Securities Act of 1933.Fact|date=June 2007] If an act is made by the third method, the presiding officer of the house that last reconsidered the act promulgates it. [(See usc|1|106a, "Promulgation of laws.")]
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.
Acts of Congress that become law are published in the
United States Statutes at Large. Nearly all acts are drafted as amendments to the United States Code(published by private companies for the benefit of practicing lawyers), so the United States Code will change to reflect the addition, modification, or removal of text by a particular act.
No act of Congress may violate the Constitution, nor otherwise exceed the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution. Otherwise, the
United States Supreme Courtcan declare the act to be unconstitutional.
The judicial declaration of an act's unconstitutionality does "not" excise it from the United States Code. It merely implies that any further attempt to enforce the act in the courts would be futile.Fact|date=December 2007 The modified statutes in the versions of the United States Code will be annotated with warnings indicating that the statute is no longer good law. But the statute will continue to be present in the Statutes at Large, and it will not disappear from the United States Code unless and until another act of Congress explicitly removes it.
Acts of Congress are designated as either "Public Laws", relating to the general public, or "Private Laws", relating to specific 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 is a number sequentially assigned to each act. [cite web
url = http://www.lexisnexis.com/help/cu/Serial_Set/About_Bills.htm#pub
title = About Bills, Resolutions, and Laws
quote = About Public Laws
year = 2007
accessdate = 2008-09-04]
* Also used technically for a bill that has been passed by one House of Congress.
* An act of Congress can also refer to acts by legislative bodies called
Congresselsewhere around the world like in the Philippines.
* Sometimes used in informal speech, to indicate something for which getting permission is burdensome. As in "It takes an act of Congress to get a building permit in this town."
List of United States federal legislationfor a list of prominent Acts of Congress.
Act of Parliament
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.