Understanding the Policymaking Process


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Toolkits | February 2, 2011

Files: PDF | 2.88 MB | 9 pages

Having a basic understanding of the legislative process is key to effective lobbying and advocacy. This toolkit will cover some of the legislative basics, including key committees and staff positions, how an idea is turned into federal policy, the appropriations process, and common terminology. This information will help you to understand the legislative process so that you can more effectively impact it.

This toolkit will focus primarily on the legislative portion of policymaking. However, it is important to remember that legislation generally does not cover every detail of the bill’s execution. Instead, bills passed into law are seen as more of a guide or outline; it is up to the executive branch (the administration, federal departments, and agencies) to fill in the details.

This toolkit covers:

  • Structure of Congress, including congressional committees;
  • Congressional office structure;
  • How a bill becomes federal policy; and
  • Appropriations process.

In addition to several helpful tips and a list of five key steps for success, this toolkit includes a glossary of key legislative terms.

Click here to return to the complete Advocacy Toolkit.