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Public policy is any rule, plan, or action pertaining to issues of domestic national importance. Public policy solves internal problems, such as how to protect citizens from toxic waste or how to ensure that all children get equal access to education. In order to be made official, public policy legislation goes through five steps:
When something becomes a concern for a significant number of people, that concern becomes part of the national agenda, the list of things that the public wants the government to address. An issue becomes part of the national agenda for any of the following reasons:
After an issue gets put on the national agenda, people will begin petitioning the government to take action.
Policy formulation determines how the government will respond to problems on the national agenda. Although people may agree that a particular problem exists, they might strongly disagree about how to remedy it. Members of Congress, executive branch officials, and interest groups may all propose solutions, which then prompt intense debate in the media and in Congress.
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