Posts tagged ‘House calendar’

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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Differences between the House and the Senate

In preparing to work with members of Congress, it is important to understand the differences between the House and the Senate. The more you understand about each chamber of Congress, the better prepared you will be to gain support for your issue.

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At 435 members, the House is the larger chamber. The Senate has 100 members with two senators from each state. Representatives serve shorter terms, two years, while Senators serve longer terms of six years. There are four calendars for the House: Union, House, Private and Discharge. The Senate has two calendars: Legislative and Executive.

In terms of procedure, the House has less procedural flexibility and more rule restraints than the Senate. In the House, power is more concentrated in the leadership and less evenly distributed among Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelakmembers. Leadership in the House is much stronger than in the Senate, where power is usually more evenly distributed.

Debate within the House is always restricted, while debate within the Senate is rarely restricted. Debate ending motions within the House occur by majority vote of 218 members. In the Senate, cloture is invoked by a vote of 60 Senators.

In the House, constituency is much narrower than in the Senate. In the House, the constituency is limited to each House District. In the Senate, the constituency is larger and involves an entire state.

In communicating with members of Congress, keep in mind that representatives are less reliant on staff. On the other hand, Senators are often more reliant on staff.

Finally, the House adjourns at the end of the day while the Senate recesses at the end of most days.

To learn more about the differences between the House and the Senate, see CongressByTheNumbers.com and Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process.

Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 4.9 Differences between the House and the Senate at a Glance, and the Congressional Deskbook, §§ 8.150-8.151.

For more information about congressional operations and effective advocacy in Washington, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net

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Methods of Consideration for Making it to the House Floor

In understanding the legislation process, it is important to understand that there are numerous ways in which a measure can be brought to the House floor for debate. These methods include amendment, voting on a passage, or because the measure was placed on a House calendar.
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Measures that are noncontroversial in nature and which have already been cleared by respective party leaders can often come to the House floor through unanimous consent. Once cleared, a member may request permission to bring up that particular measure. The process can be stopped by the objection by another member.

More than half of all measures that are considered by the House are brought onto the floor through a procedure known as suspension of the rules, which is primarily used for noncontroversial measures. The Speaker may choose to recognize members to move to suspend the rules and pass particular measures on each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the last six days of a session. If a measure was considered to be controversial while it was in committee it will generally not be considered under the suspension procedure.

Measures can also come to the floor on the private calendar. Private Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneidermeasures may be considered on the third Tuesday of each month as well, at the discretion of the Speaker of the House. Bills on the private calendar typically relate to individual immigration and claims matters. There is an official objector for each party that is responsible for reviewing bills on the private calendar. If there is a concern by the official objector, an objection may be issued to the consideration of that measure.

A member may also file a motion with the clerk of the House to discharge from committee any measure that has been pending for thirty legislative days. The discharge calendar is considered on the second as well as the fourth Mondays of each month. For a measure to be eligible for discharge, it must have been on the discharge calendar for seven legislative days. Discharge motions are considered in the House with twenty minutes of debate that are divided equally between the opponent and the proponent.

To learn more about the legislative process, consider our 1-day course Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process, and our 3-day Advanced Legislative Strategies.

Reference: Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Section 8.80 House Floor Methods of Consideration

For more information about the legislative process, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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