Posts tagged ‘Bill LaForge’

The Link between the Congressional Committee System and Legislation

Different congressional committees within each chamber of Congress conduct most of the work on legislation, including the preparation that must occur on a bill leading to floor consideration.

0202 - Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town
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Bills are referred to congressional committees for any needed further action. In the event a committee decides an issue or a bill has merit, it can send it to the full chamber. Bills can also die in committee. Committees determine whether an issue or bill has any possible life, including whether there will be further consideration of the matter.

The full scope of the legislative process is essentially linked to the congressional committee system. Members of a committee have the ability to review and dispose of proposals. Whenever a bill or issue is referred to a committee, that committee must decide whether they will devote necessary resources to advance the measure. If the decision is made to move ahead, the first step is often to conduct a congressional hearing.

If sufficient results are produced from the hearing phase, Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForgethe committee may then choose to move to drafting and refining a bill–the markup phase. The bill is then recommended or reported to the full chamber. From that point, the measure will be taken up by the full Senate or House, and, if passed, will then be referred to the other chamber. A conference committee resolves any difference between the two versions produced by the two chambers before a final version will be put to a final vote in each chamber.

In the end, the committee hearing forms an initial staging ground for the development of most legislation. Through the gathering of information from witness testimony, committee members become educated regarding an issue and begin to formulate policy positions. As a result, committees form a critical dynamic within the legislative process. Of course, a measure is not required to be the subject of a hearing before it can be further considered by a committee or either chamber, but most important issues and measures do receive a full vetting through the committee hearings process before further action is taken.

To learn more about testifying before Congress, see TheCapitol.Net’s course Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony and its Capitol Learning Audio Course, Tips, Tactics & Techniques for Writing Congressional Testimony.

To learn more about the hearing process and the role it plays in the legislative process, see TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day course Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, and the 3-day Capitol Hill Workshop.

Reference: Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForge, Section 1.40 Understanding the Congressional Committee System.


For more information about presentation and testifying training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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How Truth-in-Testimony Rules Apply to Prospective Congressional Witnesses

As a prospective public witness testifying before Congress, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the Truth-In-Testimony rules that witnesses are required to comply with and the consequences that can result for failing to comply.

Truth or Consequences
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To the greatest extent possible, witnesses who appear before each committee are required to submit written statements of their proposed testimony in advance. In addition, they are also required to limit their oral presentations to brief summaries. In the event a witness will appear before a committee in a nongovernmental capacity, a written statement of proposed testimony should include a curriculum vitae for the witness as well as a disclosure regarding the amount and the source of any Federal grants or contracts that have been received during that current fiscal year or either of the two prior fiscal years. This applies not only to the witness, but also to any organization represented by the witness.

The purpose of this rule is to provide committee members as well as the public and the media a more detailed context in which the testimony of the witness can be considered regarding their experience, education and the extent to which they or their organization have benefited from Federal contracts and grants.

Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForgeThe intention of this rule is not to require witnesses to disclose the amounts of Federal entitlements they might have received from sources such as Social Security, Medicare or income support payments. Farmers are also not required to disclose amounts they might have received regarding commodity or crop price support payments. Failure to fully comply with this requirement would not result in a point of order against the witness testifying. With that said, such failure to comply could result in an objection that could potentially include the testimony of the witness in the record of the hearing. This objection would take the place of a traditional disclosure.

The information provided by the witness to the committee prior to the hearing can be helpful to the committee during the preparation stage. A wealth of information is often included in a briefing book prepared by the committee staff. This information can include not only Truth-in-Testimony disclosures, but also other information such as witness background biographical information.

To learn more about preparing to testify before Congress, you might consider attending our workshop Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, also available for custom, on-site training.

Reference: Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForge, Section 2.7 Special Rules Regarding Truth in Testimony


For more information about presentation and testifying training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

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