I'm not even American and even I know of School House Rock's "Just a Bill" and the Simpson's parody "An ammendment to be". In Just a Bill the bill is written by a congressman because of public outcry.

Just a bill

I was watching a TV program, called "Why Poverty", which said the idea of a congressman writing a bill was antiquated and that now-a-days bills were writen exclusively by lobby groups. The idea was that when you're rich enough you can buy a lobby group to make laws for you, basically destorying the idea of democracy. Here's an another Just a bill parody, this one supports the idea that lobby groups write bills.

Who actually writes congressional bills in America? To be specific lets say over the last 10 or 20 years, answerers choice.

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    Congressional aides mostly. They do get some language from lobbyists and sometimes lobbyists submit suggestions of complete overhauls of the wording of a bill. But they are a collaboration of Aides, congressmen, and special interest groups.
    – Chad
    Nov 30 '12 at 15:01
  • Maybe Coomie will tell us how it works in Australia!
    – GEdgar
    Feb 17 '15 at 20:06
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    Coomie this is really hard because every bill is different.I could find a bill that was written by a Special interest group entirely and one that was written entirely by the congressman who sponsored it. Neither answers the question of who writes all bills because both of those could be anomalies. And the people who are writing the bills as an outside source, are generally not in the business of advertising that. This might actually be better migrated to politics SE
    – Chad
    Feb 24 '15 at 14:55
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    @indigochild any legislation with the chief sponsor being Ted Cruz was most likely written by him and his staff. Obamacare is a great example of a bill written by special interests. Amendments vary though
    – Chad
    Jan 26 '16 at 18:01
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    Anybody can write a bill. You just need a congressman to present it to congress. Saying the congressman wrote it is a simplification, not a lie.
    – fredsbend
    Jan 26 '16 at 18:06

The reality is that neither Congresspeople nor lobbyists write bills.

In America, all legislatures will have a function that drafts bills on behalf of legislators. In practice, legislators do not typically have the legal skills necessary to craft complex legal documents. At the federal level, the Office of Legislative Counsel handles this: legislators may request that OLC staff draft a bill.

It's important to note that only legislators can make this request: lobbyists and other third parties may not request bills be drafted. Of course, that doesn't mean someone can't attempt to draft a bill without going through OLC.

State governments have similar functions. For example, in Kansas this office is called the Revisor of Statutes. Your state may have a different name.


Whether or not the literal language of new laws are written by lobbyists, there is little doubt that the effective content of most US government policies are dictated by the money. A statistical analysis of policy outcomes against the preferences of average citizens, economic elites, mass interest groups and business interest groups found the following:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.



Aides, congressmen, and outside groups all contribute to the wording of bills. However, it doesn't matter who puts the words to paper because it is the congress member that is responsible and accountable for them. The congress member introduces the bill. Congress introduces amendments. And congress votes on the bill. This does not bypass the democratic process.


Allard says before you think lobbyists are running Washington, consider this: Word choices in a bill have to be vetted and approved by lots of eyeballs in a long lawmaking process. So it's the members of Congress who voted for the bill — not the lobbyists — who have to take ownership over the final language.

"So where it comes from — whether they see it on the back of a cereal box or on the Today show or on NPR or out of a lawyer who's acting as a lobbyist's word processor — doesn't matter, because if the member is proposing it, they are responsible for it and they have to make the case for why it's advisable," Allard says.

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    I am not sure that members of congress read many of the bills e.g. “No one — not one single member of Congress — has read the bill that Democratic leadership is bringing up for a vote today,” politico.com/news/stories/0609/24348.html Feb 17 '15 at 15:43
  • 1
    Then we expect no member of congress to be re-elected? Feb 17 '15 at 16:57
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    @congris If the lobbyist is a heavy advertiser, they can suppress media reporting on negative reports and avoid "flack" altogether. Or if they're really good like Monsanto, they can make negative reports illegal.
    – Coomie
    Feb 18 '15 at 2:53
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    Negative reports, if true, are not illegal in the US. Give an example of a negative report that was suppressed in the media by lobbyists.
    – congris
    Feb 18 '15 at 3:00
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    Tyler, no. All bills must be introduced to the floor of congress by a particular member or committee. Amendments are proposed by individual identified members.
    – congris
    Feb 18 '15 at 15:32

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