Clarissa Saunders: You get to your feet in the Senate, take a long breath, and start spouting, but not too loud because a couple of the Senators might want to sleep. Then a curly-headed page boy takes it up to the desk where a long-faced clerk reads it, refers it to the right committee...
Jefferson Smith: ...Why?
Clarissa Saunders: Look, committees are small groups of Senators that have to sit the bill down, look into it, study it and report to the whole Senate. You can't take a bill nobody ever heard about and discuss it among ninety-six men. Where would you get?...Now days are going by, Senator. Days, weeks! Finally, they think it's quite a bill. It goes over to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote. But it has to wait it's turn on the calendar...That's the order of business. Your bill has to stand way back there in line unless the steering committee thinks it's important.
Jefferson Smith: What's that?
Clarissa Saunders: ...Do you really think we're getting anywhere?
Jefferson Smith: Oh yes Miss Saunders. Now tell me, what's the steering committee?
Clarissa Saunders: A committee of the majority party leaders. They decide when a bill is important enough to be moved up toward the head of the list.
Jefferson Smith: Well, this is!
Clarissa Saunders: ...Where are we now?...Oh yeah, House. More amendments, more changes and the bill goes back to the Senate. If the Senate doesn't like what the House did to the bill, they make more changes. If the House doesn't like those changes, stymied.
Jefferson Smith: So?
Clarissa Saunders: So they appoint men from each House to go into a huddle called a conference and they battle it out. Finally, if your bill is still alive after all this vivisection, it comes to a vote. Yes sir, the big day finally arrives [pause] and Congress adjourns. [The smile on Smith's face droops.] Catching on, Senator?
Jefferson Smith: Uh huh. Shall we start on it right away or order dinner first?
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