In the House of Representatives, the term calendar has two related meanings. This report, one of series of reports on legislative process, explains calendars and their use in the House of Representatives.
First, calendar refers to several lists of measures and motions that are (or will soon become) eligible for consideration on the House floor. When a House committee reports a measure, it is placed on one of these calendars. If a measure is not on one of the calendars, either it is awaiting action by one or more House committees to which it was referred or it is being held "at the Speaker's table" in anticipation that the House may agree to consider it, perhaps by unanimous consent, without first referring it to committee.
The four House calendars are not calendars in the traditional sense. Because a measure is listed on a calendar does not guarantee that it will be considered on the House floor on a date certain—or at all. It could be argued that the word menu provides a more accurate picture of what the calendars actually represent in a parliamentary sense: lists of eligible legislation that the majority party leadership might choose to "order" in structuring the House's floor schedule. Which measures on the calendar the leadership will schedule for consideration, and in what order, is a decision based on a combination of policy, political, and procedural factors.1
In its second meaning, calendar also refers to the document that contains these lists and other information about the status of legislation. The full title of this document is Calendars of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation. The calendar is printed daily and distributed within the House. The most recent daily issue of the calendar is available online at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CCAL-114hcal-2015-08-04/content-detail.html.
The front cover of the calendar gives (1) the dates on which each session of the current Congress convened and adjourned sine die; (2) the number of days the House has actually met during the current session; (3) the date and time at which the House is next scheduled to meet and any special procedures that are in order on that day; and (4) any special orders—concerning special order speeches and morning hour debates, for example—to which the House has agreed.
The remainder of the calendar presents:
Calendars that are printed on Monday of each week, or on the first day that the House was in session during the week, contain three additional features: (1) information on bills through conference—that is, measures on which conference committees have completed action; (2) an alphabetical index of the short titles of pending bills; and (3) a subject index of the House and Senate measures that are listed in the section of the calendar on the history of bills and resolutions.
The final edition of the calendar that is published at the end of each Congress contains still more useful information, including lists of measures that became law and measures that the President vetoed and statistical data comparing the workload of the Congress with prior Congresses.
Author Contact Information
This report was written by [author name scrubbed], formerly a senior specialist in the Legislative Process at CRS; the listed author is available to answer questions concerning its contents.
In modern practice, measures are sometimes brought directly to the House floor by suspension of the rules, by special rule, or by unanimous consent without being reported and placed on a calendar.