Guide to Scheduling and Privilege on the House Floor

In the House, after a measure has been reported from committee, it is placed on a calendar. Whether the measure comes off its respective calendar and receives floor consideration is the responsibility of the majority-party leadership. Leadership is also responsible for influencing the way in which a measure is considered.

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There are specific procedures defined by House rules that determine how a measure comes to the floor of the House. As a result, the kinds of measures that can actually go to the House floor are limited. Privileged business refers to measures and matters that members may bring up for consideration on the floor, which are privileged for the interruption of regular business.

Some measures on specific House calendars or measures brought up for consideration subject to specific procedures are privileged on different days. These procedures and calendars are the Discharge and Private Calendars, District Day, Calendar Wednesday and suspension of the rules.

Business that may be privileged on any day the House meets includes privileged reports from committees that have the option to report any time, general appropriations bills, and reported resolutions of inquiry. The daily starting times for the House are generally announced by the majority-party leadership at the beginning of each session.

A measure can be brought to the House floor for debate, vote on passage and possible amendment in a variety of ways. A measure can come to the floor because it was placed on a calendar or because it is Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneidera particular day of the week or the month. In other instances, a measure might come to the floor because it has made its way through a series of rather complex negotiations. Unanimous consent can be used to bring matters to the floor when they are noncontroversial in nature and when they have been cleared by party leaders. A suspension of the rules can also be used for matters that are largely noncontroversial. More than half of all of the measures that are considered by the House come to the floor by the suspension of the rules procedure. If a measure is even slightly controversial, it will not be considered under this procedure.

To learn more about legislative matters, see our Advanced Legislative Strategies and our Capitol Hill Workshop, the definitive three-day overview of how Congress works.

Reference: Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Section 8.70 House Floor: Scheduling and Privilege

For detailed information about the legislative process, see

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