Order Code 98-389 GOV
Updated August 4, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Senate Rule XIV Procedures for Placing
Measures Directly on the Senate Calendar
Paul S. Rundquist
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Bills and joint resolutions usually are considered in committee before being taken
up for action on the Senate floor. However, at the initiative of any Senator, a bill or joint
resolution that is introduced in the Senate or received from the House may be placed
directly on the Senate Calendar of Business without being referred to or reported from a
standing committee of the Senate. This report is part of a series on chamber processes.
See this CRS website [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml] for more
information on legislative process.
The procedure for placing bills and joint resolutions on the calendar derives from
three paragraphs of the Senate’s Rule XIV. Paragraph 2 of Rule XIV states that every bill
and joint resolution, whether introduced in the Senate or originating in the House, shall
receive three readings before being passed. Each reading shall occur on a different
legislative day. (A legislative day begins when the Senate convenes after an adjournment
and ends when it next adjourns. Legislative days may span several or many calendar
Paragraph 3 indicates (1) that no bill or joint resolution shall be referred to a
committee until after its second reading, (2) that referral to committee after the second
reading is not mandatory, and (3) that unanimous consent is required for a bill or joint
resolution to be read twice and considered on the same day.
Finally, paragraph 4 states that a bill or joint resolution shall be placed directly on
the Senate’s calendar after its second reading “if objection be made to further proceeding
thereon,” which would be referral to committee.
Together, these provisions permit any Senator, as a matter of right, to arrange for a
bill or joint resolution originating in either chamber to be placed directly on the calendar
by objecting to “further proceeding thereon”after the measure’s second reading.
This procedure involves two stages. First, when the measure is introduced in the
Senate or received from the House, a Senator asks unanimous consent that the measure
be read twice and (1) that it be placed on the calendar or (2) that the Senate proceed to its
immediate consideration. In either case, an objection to the request is expected. Before
the objection is made, however, the clerk states the title of the measure, which constitutes
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the first reading. (If a Senator objects before the first reading, introduction of the measure
must be postponed for one legislative day, but objection before first reading is rare.)
After the first reading, a Senator who opposes immediate action on the measure then
objects to the second reading occurring on the same legislative day. Once this objection
is made, the measure is held at the desk until it can be read for the second time on the next
legislative day. The measure is not yet sent to committee since it has been read only once.
Second, at the end of morning business on the next legislative day, which may begin
days or even weeks later, the presiding officer directs that the measure be read for the
second time. After the second reading, which also is by title, the Senator who wishes to
place the measure directly on the calendar objects to further consideration or objects to
“further proceeding thereon.” This objection prevents the measure from being referred
to committee; instead, it is placed directly on the legislative calendar.
A Senator who introduces a bill and wants it referred routinely to committee simply
hands it in at the desk while the Senate is in session. The measure then is deemed to have
been read twice and it is referred. To invoke Rule XIV, on the other hand, the Senator
must be recognized by the presiding officer and then state that he or she is introducing a
measure. The Senator then asks unanimous consent for the Senate to consider the
measure immediately or for it to be placed directly on the calendar.
Similarly, most bills and joint resolutions that the Senate receives from the House
are considered as having been read twice and are automatically referred to committee.
Senators who wish to have a House-passed measure placed on the calendar instead usually
notify their party leaders (as well as the Senate’s bill clerk and parliamentarian) that they
intend to object to routine referral and wish to invoke the Rule XIV procedure.
Senators do not use this procedure very often, in large part because of the respect that
they have for their committee system and for the contributions that committees make in
screening and evaluating the measures that are referred to them. Sometimes, committees
have already reported a bill, but owing to changed circumstances, committee leaders may
wish to significantly revise the measure they have recommended. In these cases,
committee leaders themselves may introduce a new bill that makes these revisions and,
through the Rule XIV process, have it placed directly on the calendar.
A measure placed directly on the calendar under Rule XIV is not guaranteed floor
consideration. It must be called up for consideration, either by unanimous consent or by
a motion that usually is debatable, like any measure that is placed on the calendar after
being reported from committee. In the 107th Congress, only 41 Senate bills and joint
resolutions were placed directly on the Senate Calendar; of these, 10 were ultimately
passed by the Senate and 7 became public law.
These procedures apply only to bills and joint resolutions. Paragraph 6 of Rule XIV
sets forth a different procedure — known as having a resolution “go over, under the rule”
— governing Senate resolutions and House and Senate concurrent resolutions.