How a bill becomes a law/VIII. Calendars
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|Series: How a bill becomes a law in the U.S. Congress|
House of Representatives
There are five calendars of business: the Union Calendar, the House Calendar, the Private Calendar, the Corrections Calendar, and the Calendar of Motions to Discharge Committees. The calendars are compiled in one publication printed each day the House is in session. This publication also contains a history of Senate-passed bills, House bills reported out of committee, bills on which the House has acted, and other useful information.
When a public bill is favorably reported by all committees to which referred, it is assigned a calendar number on either the Union Calendar or the House Calendar, the two principal calendars of business. The calendar number is printed on the first page of the bill and, in certain instances, is printed also on the back page. In the case of a bill that was referred to multiple committees for consideration in sequence, the calendar number is printed only on the bill as reported by the last committee to consider it.
The rules of the House provide that there shall be:
- A Calendar of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, to which shall be referred public bills and public resolutions raising revenue, involving a tax or charge on the people, directly or indirectly making appropriations of money or property or requiring such appropriations to be made, authorizing payments out of appropriations already made, releasing any liability to the United States for money or property, or referring a claim to the Court of Claims.
The large majority of public bills and resolutions reported to the House are placed on the Union Calendar. For a discussion of the Committee of the Whole House, see Part X.
The rules further provide that there shall be:
- A House Calendar, to which shall be referred all public bills and public resolutions not requiring referral to the Calendar of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union.
The rules also provide that there shall be:
- A Private Calendar...to which shall be referred all private bills and private resolutions.
All private bills reported to the House are placed on the Private Calendar. The Private Calendar is called on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. If two or more Members object to the consideration of any measure called, it is recommitted to the committee that reported it. There are six official objectors, three on the majority side and three on the minority side, who make a careful study of each bill or resolution on the Private Calendar. The official objectors' role is to object to a measure that does not conform to the requirements for that calendar and prevent the passage without debate of nonmeritorious bills and resolutions. Private bills that have been reported from committee are only considered under the private calendar procedure. Alternative procedures reserved for public bills are not applicable for reported private bills.
If a measure pending on either the House or Union Calendar is of a noncontroversial nature, it may be placed on the Corrections Calendar. The Corrections Calendar was created to address specific problems with federal rules, regulations, or court decisions that bipartisan and narrowly targeted bills could expeditiously correct. After a bill has been favorably reported and is on either the House or Union Calendar, the Speaker may, after consultation with the Minority Leader, file with the Clerk a notice requesting that such bill also be placed upon a special calendar known as the Corrections Calendar. On the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, the Speaker directs the Clerk to call any bill that has been printed on the Corrections Calendar. A three-fifths vote of the Members voting is required to pass any bill called from the Corrections Calendar. A failure to adopt a bill from the Corrections Calendar does not necessarily mean the final defeat of the bill because it may then be brought up for consideration in the same way as any other bill on the House or Union Calendar.
Calendar of motions to discharge committees
When a majority of the Members of the House sign a motion to discharge a committee from consideration of a public bill or resolution, that motion is referred to the Calendar of Motions to Discharge Committees. For a discussion of the motion to discharge, see Part X.
Beginning a daily session of the Senate
Each day in the Senate begins as the Secretary of the Senate and the Presiding Officer for that day escort the Chaplain of the Senate or guest chaplain to the desk. The Chaplain is a clergyman chosen by the Senate, whose responsibility is to offer the prayer at the opening of each daily session, as well as to officiate at various ceremonies and respond to Senators' private needs.
As the Senate begins its new day, it is important to note that the Senate recognizes two meanings for the word "day," the "calendar" day and the "legislative" day. A calendar day is recognized as each 24 hour period. Reference may be made to a day certain, as in a unanimous consent request to vote on passage of a measure on August 4, 1996 (a specific, determined, or fixed day), or a day not yet determined, as in a unanimous consent request or rule requiring action "on either of the next two days of actual session." The references in these cases are to calendar days. A legislative day is the period of time following an adjournment of the Senate until another adjournment. A recess (rather than an adjournment) in no way affects a legislative day; therefore, one legislative day may consume a considerable period of time--days, weeks, even months--but one or more adjournments from one day to the next would cause the calendar and legislative day to coincide.
As used in the Rules of the Senate, a day generally is recognized as a legislative day unless specified as a calendar day. There is, for example, the proviso that "no Senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day..." in Rule XIX. However, Rule V, disallowing motions "to suspend, modify or amend any rule..., except on one day's notice in writing...," although not specifying the type of day, is interpreted as meaning one calendar day.
- Main article: U.S. Senate - Rules
Morning hour and morning business
The Senate Majority Leader by unanimous consent customarily provides for a brief period of time (usually 10 minutes each) at the beginning of each daily session for himself and the Minority Leader to be used at their discretion for observations on current events or pending legislation, submission and agreement of various legislative matters, etc. They may yield all or part of their time to their Senators for sundry purposes. It is with these orders that the day of the Senate begins.
During the morning hour of each legislative day, Rule VII of the Senate provides that, after the Journal is read, the Presiding Officer lay before the Senate messages, reports, and communications of various types.
Measures or matters are transmitted between the two Houses, as are written messages from one House to the other pertaining to the passage of measures or other conduct of official business requiring concurrence or notification. The President of the United States transmits written messages to the Congress, which are brought to the Chamber and announced to the Senate by a messenger from the White House. Such messages are numbered sequentially for a Congress and assigned a prefix PM. They are printed in full in the Congressional Record. Messages from the President may be received at any stage of Senate proceedings, except during votes or quorum calls, while the Journal is being read, or while a question of order or a motion to adjourn is pending.
The Presiding Officer then calls for the "presentation of petitions and memorials." These are documents memorializing the Government to do or not to do something. Memorials and petitions when laid before the Senate are numbered and assigned a prefix POM, and all memorials and petitions from State, Territorial, and insular possession legislatures or conventions, lawfully called, are printed in full in the Record when presented. Those received from other memorialists or petitioners are described only by a brief statement of the contents.
Next the Presiding Officer calls for the filing of reports of committees, the introduction of bills and joint resolutions, and the submission of other resolutions. Under recent practices, however, nearly all bills, resolutions, and committee reports are presented by Senators to the clerks at the Presiding Officer's desk for processing throughout the day, and without any comments from the floor.
The Majority Leader customarily secures unanimous consent at the beginning of each new Congress to allow receipt at the desk of all measures on days when morning business is conducted. Such permission allows Senators to bring measures to the desk at any time during the day, instead of following the procedure as set forth in Rule VII, requiring introduction of bills and joint resolutions only on a new legislative day during the transaction of morning business, followed by submission of other resolutions.
Bills and resolutions still may be introduced from the floor, however, and any Senator, when doing so, usually discusses his proposal when he presents it. There can be only one prime sponsor of a bill or resolution, but commonly other Senators are included as co-sponsors.
The Senate's rules make no mention of multiple sponsorship, which has been a common practice for many years. Though custom permits unlimited numbers of Senators to sponsor a wide assortment of measures, it prohibits more than one Member's name to appear on a reported bill or resolution and the printed report accompanying it. Co-sponsors are often shown on measures as introduced, but other names may be added, by unanimous consent, at their next printing. Since its inception, the advisability of multiple sponsorship has been questioned by many Senators, and others have submitted resolutions to abolish the practice. The Committee on Rules and Administration has held hearings and favorably reported measures to amend the Rules to prohibit joint sponsorship, except under limited conditions, but to date, the full Senate has not voted its approval or disapproval. A former practice of holding measures at the desk for days, to permit the addition of names, has often met considerable opposition and was discontinued in the 1960s.
Measures can be submitted with the phrase "by request," a term found following the names of the sponsors of bills and resolutions that are introduced or submitted at the request of the Administration or private organizations or individuals. Such proposals, though introduced as a courtesy, are not necessarily favored by the Senators sponsoring them. Drafts of proposed legislation from the President or an executive agency are usually introduced by the chairman of the committee of jurisdiction, who may be of the opposition party.