The Senate's Executive Calendar

April 21, 2017 (98-438)

Treaties and nominations constitute the executive business of the Senate and are the subjects of the Senate's Executive Calendar. When a Senate committee reports a treaty or nomination, it is said to be placed "on the calendar" and is available for floor consideration. In addition, there is a category of nominations that are not immediately referred to committee, but instead placed directly on the Executive Calendar under the heading, "Privileged Nominations."

Most treaties and nominations must be reported from committee and placed on the calendar to be eligible for floor consideration, unless the Senate gives unanimous consent to consider them without committee action. If a treaty or nomination is not on the calendar, either it remains in the possession of the committee to which it was referred, or is "held at the desk" by unanimous consent awaiting a decision either to refer it to committee or to bring it directly to the floor for consideration by unanimous consent.

The Senate's other calendar, the Calendar of Business, identifies the bills, resolutions, and other items of legislative business eligible for consideration (see CRS Report 98-429, The Senate's Calendar of Business). Both the Calendar of Business and the Executive Calendar are published each day the Senate is in session and distributed to Senators' personal offices and all committee and subcommittee offices. There are no cumulative issues of the Executive Calendar; each issue documents the status of treaties and nominations as of its publication. The Executive Calendar is available through the Senate section of the Legislative Information System website: http://lis.gov/crtext/lists.html#lcal.

Each issue of the Executive Calendar contains eight sections.

First, the calendar presents the texts of any unanimous consent agreements concerning executive business that have not yet been fully implemented. Such agreements may control when the Senate will begin consideration of a treaty or nomination, for example, or how long Senators may debate it.

Second, the calendar lists any Senate executive resolutions that concern executive business. A measure to discharge a committee from further consideration of a treaty or nomination, for example, would be an executive resolution. Such resolutions, however, are used very rarely.

Third, the calendar lists all treaties that have been reported from committee. A treaty becomes eligible for floor consideration on the day after it is placed on the calendar. For each treaty, this list provides

Fourth, the calendar lists nominations that have been reported from committee. Except by unanimous consent, the Senate may not begin floor consideration of a nomination until it has been on the calendar for at least one day. Any nominations appearing in this section of the calendar for the first time are listed under the heading of "new reports." For each nomination, this section of the calendar identifies

Fifth, the calendar identifies lists of nominations placed on the Secretary's desk. These are routine nominations—in the armed services and the Foreign Service, for example—that the Senate normally considers and approves by unanimous consent without committee action. When the Senate receives such nominations, they are printed in the Congressional Record for the information of all Senators. After being printed in the Record, these nominations are identified in the Executive Calendar by entries such as "Army nominations beginning Jeremy D. Karlin, and ending Iraham S. Sanchez, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of January 9, 2017."

Sixth, the calendar lists privileged nominations, those positions that the Senate has decided may receive expedited consideration.1 These nominations are not referred to committee, unless any Senator requests referral. (Ten session days after the committee has received the background information, the nomination is moved to the regular nominations section of the calendar.)

For privileged nominations, the calendar provides

Seventh, the Executive Calendar includes a page to record a notice of intent to object. This section of the calendar was established pursuant to Section 515 of P.L. 110-81, and a standing order agreed to in the 112th Congress (S.Res. 28) also affects its content.2 It was created to discourage Senators from only privately indicating their opposition to a matter and thereby delaying or preventing its consideration, a practice known as placing a "secret hold." Under S.Res. 28, a Senator may submit to his or her leader, as well as to the Executive Clerk, a notice stating that the Senator would object to a unanimous consent request to dispose of a nomination. If a Senator does so, then, for that nomination, this section of the calendar records the number of the presidential message by which the nomination was transmitted to the Senate, the name of the nominee and the office to which he or she has been nominated, and the date of any notice of intent to object and the name of any Senator who submitted it. The same information will be recorded in this section of the calendar if a unanimous consent request to dispose of a nomination is propounded on the floor and a Senator objects on behalf of another named Senator.

The final section of the Executive Calendar records any motion to reconsider entered in connection with executive business and thus eligible to be taken up by the Senate through a motion to proceed. Sometimes Senators "enter" a motion to reconsider, instead of "making" the motion for the Senate to then consider immediately. For example, if a vote to invoke cloture on a nomination failed, a Senator might enter a motion to reconsider the vote. Entering the motion protects the ability of the Senate to agree to vote again, but at a later time.

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Coordinator, Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Acknowledgments

This report was written by [author name scrubbed], formerly a Senior Specialist in the Legislative Process at CRS. The listed coordinator updated the report and is available to answer questions concerning its contents.

Footnotes

1.

See S.Res. 116, adopted in 2011.

2.

For more on this topic, please see CRS Report R43563, "Holds" in the Senate, by [author name scrubbed].