How does bailout legislation get written?

Does anyone have any info as to how a complex huge piece of legislation - such as they are discussing with this bailout - actually gets written? Who comes up with the first draft? When is it final? How complete is the project that gets voted on? Do they essentially vote to pursue an agreed list of objectives, or is every i supposed to be dotted and every t crossed?

I’m just thinking of the hassles it is going to take to get my next appeal brief past 2 levels of review within my own office. Can’t imagine the clusterfuck resulting when 500+ Type A cooks start sticking their fingers into the stew.

Very briefly, the staff of the relevant committees would come up with drafts of legislation. They would develop these drafts based on an understanding of principles arrived at through the ongoing negotiations. Committees usually have staff that are expert in various issues, and then there are attorneys who either work for a committee, or who are employed by each house of Congress, who are responsible for making sure the legalese is correct, the draft bill conforms with existing laws, other laws are properly referenced, etc.

The product of these efforts may be subject to amendment in a markup or on the floor of either house. Any amendments must also be drafted by those same types of attorneys. This is extremely important because what gets voted on is the actual, final product that will be law. It can be vague in some places (e.g., give the Administration more discretion) or very specific in other places (e.g., amend single words in other pieces of law), but what is passed and signed by the President is law. There are no further rewrites.

Thanks for the quick explanation. The whole idea of drafting liegislation quickly sorta bothers me. In my job I deal with federal legislation and regs every day, and the difference between using the word “may” and “shall” can be HUGE.

It’s not unusual for large pieces of legislation that get crammed through at the end of a session (such as usually happens with appropriations bills) to be subject to a subsequent “technical corrections” measure that will be passed to fix those sort of unintended drafting errors.

Particularly in situations when you have a time crunch, what you might also do is to ask whomever will benefit from the proposed legislation for a first draft. It will of course be heavily biased in their favor, but you could use that as a starting point, and edit the proposed legislation from there.

Heck, the potential beneficiaries might have a draft already prepared.

Yes – one source of draft legislation is lobbyists, and another source is government departments that will implement the legislation. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as legislators and other interested parties go through it to remove any bias.