Congress works in two year cycles. 2013 is the1st Session of the 113th Congress. For 2014 we will be in the 2nd Session of the 113th Congress. Thousands of bills are introduced in each Congress. The bills are only valid in the Congress in which they are introduced; for example a bill introduced in 2011 or 2012 and not passed in the 112th Congress will have to be reintroduced in the 113th Congress in 2013 to be considered again.
Bills are not written in a vacuum. They may result from a need or concern of a constituent. It may be an issue that is raised in testimony. It may arise from the platform of the President or the member of Congress themselves. The bills are crafted by Congressional staffers with input from legal advisors, scoring by the Congressional Budget Office to see how much it will cost, and with advice from outside and stakeholder agencies.
For the most part, in order for a bill to be successful, it is necessary for the legislation to attract a number of co-sponsors or supporters. The provisions of the bill may be very popular and the bill can be introduced with many co-sponsors, or support for the bill can grow over a longer period of time with sponsors signing on over time. Some bills languish with only one or two co-sponsors with no hope of being passed. Bills are referred to the committees that have jurisdiction over them. If approved, they are then referred to the entire chamber, either Senate or House, for passage.
Congress created a special website for Americans to track legislation and named it after Thomas Jefferson. You can look up legislation, track progress, see how many co-sponsors the bill has, and other pertinent information.
Your participation makes a difference! In recent sessions, military spouses have expressed support for the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, resulting in its passage. Spouses also expressed concerns about the untimely demise of the My Career Advancement Accounts program, which caused Congress to ask for a report on the program in the National Defense Authorization Act. These were a direct result of military spouses contacting their Members of Congress and using social media to create awareness. Read more about our positions in Policy Issues.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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