美国如何制定法律?

The United States Congress is responsible for making and approving federal laws – rules that everyone in the country must follow. But exactly how do those laws get made? The process is not easy, and it takes a long time.
美国国会负责制定和批准联邦法律,也就是国内每个人都要遵守的规定。但是这些法律究竟是如何制定的呢?这个过程并不容易,需要耗费很长时间。

A law begins when someone proposes an idea. The idea can come from anyone, but it has to get to a U.S. lawmaker who wants it to become legislation. In time, the idea is further developed into a written proposal, called a bill.
当有人提出某种草案时,立法就开始了。这种草案可以来自任何人,但它必须送到一位希望它成为法律的议员手里。届时,这种草案进一步发展成为被称为法案的书面提案。

Then, a member of Congress – that is, a senator or a member of the House of Representatives – officially proposes the bill. In other words, a lawmaker sponsors it. Lawmakers usually sponsor bills that are important to them or the people who live in the area they represent.
然后由一位国会议员正式提出该法案,国会议员包括参议员和众议员。换句话说,由一位议员支持这项法案。议员们通常会支持对他们或他们所代表的选民非常重要的法案。

After the bill is introduced, it is sent to a small group of lawmakers, called a "committee." Committees are responsible for a specific public policy or area of government. For example, both the Senate and the House have committees that deal with agriculture, education, and international relations.
在该法案出台之后,它将被发给一小群议员,也就是一家委员会。委员会负责特定的公共政策或政府领域。例如,参议院和众议院都设有处理农业、教育和国际关系的委员会。

Sometimes committee members seek more information about the proposal by holding hearings. Sometimes the committee changes the bill. Sometimes it decides not to take any action. In that case, we say lawmakers "table" the bill, or let it "die in committee."
有时候,委员们会通过举行听证会寻求获取更多提案的相关信息,有时候委员们会修改法案,有时候会决定不予理会。在这种情况下,我们说议员们搁置该法案,或是让它在委员会终止。

But now and then, they offer the bill to lawmakers not on the committee. Those lawmakers debate the bill further. They might change the bill again.
但是有时候,他们会把法案递交给议员们,而不是委员会。这些议员们进一步讨论这项法案,他们可能会再次修改这项法案。

Finally, the full House or Senate votes on the bill. If it does not earn the majority of votes, the bill does not advance.
最后,众议院或参议院全体成员对这项法案进行投票。如果没有获得多数票,这项法案就不会继续推进。

But if it does get approved, the bill goes to the other chamber of Congress. So, bills approved by the House go to the Senate; bills approved by the Senate go to the House.
但是如果获得通过,这项法案就会递交给国会的另一个议院。也就是众议院通过的法案将会递交给参议院,参议院通过的法案递交给众议院。

Lawmakers in the second chamber repeat the process. If the second chamber also approves the bill, lawmakers from both the House and the Senate may have to discuss it again to settle any differences.
第二个议院的议员们重复这一过程。如果第二个议院也通过了这项法案,参众两院的议员们可能会再次讨论以解决任何分歧。

Finally, the agreed-upon bill is sent to the president. The president has a few choices about what to do.
最终,这项商定的法案被发给总统。总统就此可以做出几点选择。

If the president signs it, the bill becomes a law.
如果总统签署这项法案,它就会成为法律。

If the president does nothing and Congress is officially meeting, the bill becomes a law.
如果总统予以搁置,而国会没有休会,这项法案就变成法律。

But if the president does nothing and Congress is not in session, the bill does not pass.
但是总统予以搁置,而国会休会,这项法案就不予通过。

Or the president can officially reject – or veto – the bill. If that happens, the bill is not stopped. Instead, it is returned to both the Senate and the House.
或者总统也可以正式否决这项法案。如果这样,这项法案不会终止。相反,它会被送回参众两院。

If two-thirds of the senators and two-thirds of the House members approve the bill once again, they override the veto. That is, even with the president objecting, they turn the bill into a law.
如果2/3的参议员和2/3的众议员再次通过这项法案,他们就否决了总统的否决。也就是说,即使总统反对,他们也能将这项法案变成法律。

I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.
我是凯莉·吉恩·凯莉。(51VOA.COM原创翻译,禁止转载,违者必究!)