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How a bill FINALLY becomes a law

   WASHINGTON —  Back in school, when we were taught how a bill becomes a law, nobody ever told us it might take as long as kindergarten, elementary school and junior and senior high school combined.

   Yet that's just what happened to Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's bill banning discrimination on the basis of a person's genetic makeup — even though a majority of House members signed onto the bill nine years ago.

   President Bush finally signed the measure into law on Wednesday, prompting a collective sigh of relief from all the scientists and physicians and advocates who had supported it for years.

   Turns out that business interests, and one tenacious congressional staffer, could do what a majority of House members could not until now: control the fate of a piece of legislation with the potential to touch every American's life.

   But all of this raises an important question.

   How democratic is a Congress where a majority has to wait nine years to get its way?

-- Jerry Zremski

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