Legislative Process

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The Committee Markup Process in the House of Representatives

At the beginning of a markup, committee members often make opening statements, usually not exceeding five minutes apiece. The first reading of the text of the bill to be marked up can be waived, either by unanimous consent or by adopting a non-debatable motion. The bill then is read for amendment, one section at a time, with committee members offering their amendments to each section after it is read but before the next section is read. By unanimous consent only, the committee may agree to dispense with the reading of each section, or to consider a bill for amendment by titles or chapters...

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects

When federal agencies and programs lack funding after the expiration of full-year or interim appropriations, the agencies and programs experience a funding gap. If funding does not resume in time to continue government operations, then, under the Antideficiency Act, an agency must cease operations, except in certain situations when law authorizes continued activity. Funding gaps are distinct from shutdowns, and the criteria that flow from the Antideficiency Act for determining which activities are affected by a shutdown are complex.

Failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement...

Lifting the Earmark Moratorium: Frequently Asked Questions

While the term earmark has been used historically to describe various types of congressional spending actions, since the 110th Congress (2007-2008) House and Senate rules have defined an earmark as any congressionally directed spending, tax benefit, or tariff benefit that would benefit an entity or a specific state, locality, or congressional district. In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), the House and Senate began observing what has been referred to as an earmark moratorium or earmark ban. The moratorium does not exist in House or Senate chamber rules, however, and therefore is not enforced...

Speaking on the House Floor: Gaining Time and Parliamentary Phraseology

House rules and precedents structure Members’ opportunities to speak on the floor about pending legislation. Under some circumstances, Members arrange to speak on legislation by communicating with the leaders of the committee that reported the bill. Sometimes the arrangements can be made on the floor during the debate, and at other times they are made prior to floor consideration. The committee leaders from both sides of the aisle manage the consideration of a bill on the floor, under what is known as controlled time, by allocating the debate time among several Members.

In certain other...

Public Health and Other Related Provisions in P.L 115-271, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act

On October 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (P.L. 115-271; the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, or the SUPPORT Act).

The SUPPORT Act is a sweeping measure designed to address widespread overprescribing and abuse of opioids in the United States. The act includes provisions involving law enforcement, public health, and health care financing and coverage. Broadly, the legislation imposes tighter oversight of opioid production and...

The Office of the Parliamentarian in the House and Senate

The House and the Senate each has an Office of the Parliamentarian to provide expert advice and assistance on questions relating to the meaning and application of that chamber’s legislative rules, precedents, and practices. The Speaker began naming a parliamentarian in 1927; the Senate first formally recognized its parliamentarian in 1935.

The responsibilities of the two offices are similar. These derive from the need of Representatives and Senators, and their staff, for access to confidential and nonpartisan expertise regarding the intricacies of the legislative process. The...

Speakers of the House: Elections, 1913-2017

Each new House elects a Speaker by roll call vote when it first convenes. Customarily, the conference of each major party nominates a candidate whose name is placed in nomination. A Member normally votes for the candidate of his or her own party conference but may vote for any individual, whether nominated or not. To be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of all the votes cast for individuals. This number may be less than a majority (now 218) of the full membership of the House because of vacancies, absentees, or Members answering “present.”

This report provides data on...

Electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions

This report briefly poses and answers several “frequently asked questions” in relation to the floor proceedings used to elect a Speaker of the House. Current practice for electing a Speaker, either at the start of a Congress or in the event of a vacancy (e.g., death or resignation), is by roll-call vote, during which Members state aloud the name of their preferred candidate. Members may vote for any individual. If no candidate receives a majority of votes cast, balloting continues; in subsequent ballots, Members may still vote for any individual.

For a more detailed treatment of these...

Introduction to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress

This report introduces the main steps through which a bill (or other item of business) may travel in the legislative process—from introduction to committee and floor consideration to possible presidential consideration. However, the process by which a bill can become law is rarely predictable and can vary significantly from bill to bill. In fact, for many bills, the process will not follow the sequence of congressional stages that are often understood to make up the legislative process. This report presents a look at each of the common stages through which a bill may move, but...

Senate Rules Affecting Committees

The Senate imposes some general procedural requirements and prohibitions on its committees, but, in general, the Senate’s rules allow each of its standing committees to decide how to conduct business. Most of the chamber’s requirements for committees are found in Senate Rule XXVI. Because the committees are agents of the Senate, they are obligated to comply with all Senate directives that apply to them.

This report identifies and summarizes the provisions of the Senate’s standing rules, standing orders, precedents, and other directives that relate to legislative activity in the Senate’s...

Types of Committee Hearings

Congressional committee hearings may be broadly classified into four types: legislative, oversight, investigative, and confirmation. Hearings may be held on Capitol Hill or elsewhere (e.g., a committee member’s district or state, or a site related to the subject of the hearing). These latter hearings are often referred to as field hearings.

Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the Senate

The Senate’s presiding officer typically does not have responsibility for proactively ensuring that matters under consideration comply with the rules. Instead, Senators may enforce the Senate’s legislative rules and precedents by making points of order whenever they believe that one of those rules or precedents is, or is about to be, violated. Under some circumstances, a ruling by the presiding officer determines whether or not the point of order is well taken. Under others, the Senate itself decides the point of order, usually by majority vote.

Senate Rule XX states in part that “[a]...

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress Following a Majority-Changing Election: In Brief

“Lame duck” sessions of Congress take place whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected but before the term of the current Congress ends. Their primary purpose is to complete action on legislation. They have also been used to prevent recess appointments and pocket vetoes, to consider motions of censure or impeachment, to keep Congress assembled on a standby basis, or to approve nominations (Senate only). In recent years, most lame duck sessions have focused on program authorizations, trade-related measures, appropriations, and the budget.

From 1940 to 2016, there were 21...

The Global Research and Development Landscape and Implications for the Department of Defense

For more than 70 years, the technological superiority of the United States military has offset the size and geographic advantages of potential adversaries. The Department of Defense (DOD), due in large part to the magnitude of its investments in research and development (R&D), has driven the global R&D and technology landscape. However, DOD and the federal government more broadly are no longer overriding funders of R&D, and this shift in support for R&D has substantial implications for how DOD obtains advanced technology and maintains the battlefield overmatch that technology has...

Guide to Individuals Seated on the Senate Dais

The Senate meets in the Senate chamber of the Capitol. Seated at the head of the chamber on the top of a two-tiered dais is the presiding officer. Members are assigned to the 100 desks that are arranged in a semicircle facing the presiding officer. The center aisle in the Senate chamber divides the political parties. Facing the presiding officer, Republicans sit to the right of the center aisle, Democrats to the left. Senior Members usually sit the closest to the dais and along the center aisle, although some choose other desks. The party floor leaders occupy the front aisle desks, which...

Party Leaders in the House: Election, Duties, and Responsibilities

Each major party in the House has a leadership hierarchy. This report summarizes the election, duties, and responsibilities of the Speaker of the House, the majority and minority leaders, and the whips and whip system. For a listing of all past occupants of congressional party leadership positions, see CRS Report RL30567, Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2017, by Valerie Heitshusen.

Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais

The House of Representatives meets in the House chamber of the Capitol. In the front of the chamber is a three-tiered, elevated dais. Seated or standing at a sizable lectern (the height of which is adjustable) on the top level of the dais is the presiding officer. Members of the House sit in bench-style unassigned seats arranged in a semicircle facing the presiding officer. Facing the dais, Republicans traditionally sit to the right of the center aisle, Democrats to the left.

VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (VA MISSION Act; P.L.115-182)

On June 6, 2018, the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018, or the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (S. 2372; P.L. 115-182; H.Rept. 115-671), was signed into law. The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 (S. 3479; P.L. 115-251), enacted on September 29, 2018, made some changes and technical amendments to the VA MISSION Act. This act, as amended, broadly addresses four major areas.

First, it establishes a new permanent Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP),...

Deeming Resolutions: Budget Enforcement in the Absence of a Budget Resolution

The budget resolution reflects an agreement between the House and Senate on a budgetary plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Once agreed to by both chambers in the exact same form, the budget resolution creates parameters that may be enforced by (1) points of order and (2) using the budget reconciliation process.

When the House and Senate do not reach final agreement on this plan, it may be more difficult for Congress to reach agreement on subsequent budgetary legislation, both within each chamber and between the chambers.

In the absence of agreement on a budget resolution, Congress may...

Medicare Trigger

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA; P.L. 108-173) requires the Medicare Board of Trustees to provide in its annual reports an expanded analysis of Medicare expenditures and revenues (Section 801 of the MMA). If the Medicare trustees determine that general revenue funding for Medicare is expected to exceed 45% of Medicare outlays for the current fiscal year or any of the next six fiscal years, a determination of excess general revenue Medicare funding is made. If the determination is issued for two consecutive years, a funding warning is issued...

Cloture Attempts on Nominations: Data and Historical Development Through November 20, 2013

The motion for cloture is available in the Senate to limit debate on nominations, as on other matters. Table 6 lists all nominations against which cloture was moved from 1949, when the Senate changed the cloture rule to allow it to be moved on nominations, until November 21, 2013, when the Senate reinterpreted the rule to lower the threshold for invoking cloture on most nominations from three-fifths of the Senate to a majority of Senators voting. The reinterpretation of the rule significantly altered the use of cloture in the Senate, such that conclusions drawn from the data in this report...

Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress

Senators and Representatives are frequently asked to support or sponsor proposals recognizing historic events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions. Among the various forms of recognition that Congress bestows, the Congressional Gold Medal is often considered the most distinguished. Through this venerable tradition—the occasional commissioning of individually struck gold medals in its name—Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions for more than two centuries. Since 1776, this award, which initially was bestowed on...

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions

Legislation to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)—sometimes called “fast track”—the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), was signed into law by President Obama on June 29, 2015 (P.L. 114-26). If the President negotiates an international trade agreement that would reduce tariff or nontariff barriers to trade in ways that require changes in U.S. law, the United States can implement the agreement only through the enactment of legislation. If the trade agreement and the process of negotiating it meet certain requirements, TPA allows...

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector federal mandates. Advocates argued the statute was needed to forestall federal legislation and regulations that imposed obligations on state and local governments or businesses that resulted in higher costs and inefficiencies. Opponents argued that federal mandates may be necessary to achieve national objectives in areas where voluntary action by state and local...

Private Bills: Procedure in the House

A private bill is one that provides benefits to specified individuals (including corporate bodies). Individuals sometimes request relief through private law when administrative or legal remedies are exhausted, but Congress seems more often to view private legislation as appropriate when no other remedy is available and when enactment would, in a broad sense, afford equity. From 1817 through 1971, most Congresses enacted hundreds of private laws, but since then, the number has declined significantly as Congress has expanded administrative discretion to deal with many of the situations that...

House Voting Procedures: Forms and Requirements

Voting is among the most public acts of Representatives. Generally, Members try not to miss a vote, because it demonstrates to their constituents that they are always on the job. Procedural considerations are an important aspect of voting. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the methods of voting in both the House and the Committee of the Whole, where much of the chamber’s business is conducted.

Supermajority Votes in the House

The principle of majority rule dominates the work of the House of Representatives. This means, in brief, that most questions are decided by vote of a simple majority: one-half-plus-one of the Members voting, assuming the presence of a quorum. For instance, if all 435 lawmakers vote, the winning margin is at least 218—one more than half the membership of the House. In cases of a tie vote, House Rule XX, clause 1(c), states that “a question shall be lost.”

Some supermajority votes, however, are explicitly specified in the Constitution. The House may also define supermajority votes. This...

The Defense Budget and the Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Enacted on August 2, 2011, the Budget Control Act of 2011 as amended (P.L. 112-25, P.L. 112-240, P.L. 113-67, P.L. 114-74, and P.L. 115-123) sets limits on defense and nondefense spending. As part of an agreement to increase the statutory limit on public debt, the BCA aimed to reduce annual federal budget deficits by a total of at least $2.1 trillion from FY2012 through FY2021, with approximately half of the savings to come from defense.

The spending limits (or caps) apply separately to defense and nondefense discretionary budget authority. Budget authority is authority provided by law to...

The Rule XIX Call to Order for Disorderly Language in Senate Debate

The Senate has, from the 1st Congress (1789-1790), valued the importance of decorum in debate and included a “call to order” mechanism in its rules to sanction Senators who use “disorderly” language. The rules adopted in 1789 contained such a call-to-order provision, and its language has been amended multiple times over the years. Table 1 of this report details the historical evolution of the rule. The present form of the Senate’s call-to-order provision was adopted on June 14, 1962.

Senate Rule XIX identifies specific language that is considered disorderly. This includes language directly...

Amendments Between the Houses: Procedural Options and Effects

The House and Senate must agree to the same measure with the same legislative language before a bill can be presented to the President. To resolve differences between House and Senate versions of legislation, Congress might appoint a conference committee to negotiate a compromise that is then reported to each chamber for consideration. Alternatively, Congress might use the process of amendment exchange. In this process, each chamber acts on the legislation in turn, shuttling the measure back and forth, sometimes proposing alternatives in the form of amendments, until both chambers have...

The House Journal: Origin, Purpose, and Approval

The Journal of the House of Representatives is the official record of the chamber’s legislative actions. The Journal’s contents include the titles of introduced legislation, the results of votes, presidential veto messages, and any other matters the House deems to be official proceedings. Unlike the Congressional Record, it is not a transcript of debate. Rather, the Journal is a listing of House actions without the debate accompanying those actions.

The Constitution mandates that each House keep a journal of its proceedings (Art. 1, §5). The Constitution, House rules and practices, and, to...

Discharge Petitions and the House Discharge Rule

Recent media reports have discussed an effort by some Representatives to use a discharge petition to schedule a floor vote on a resolution (a “special rule”) providing for House consideration of immigration legislation under a "Queen-of-the-Hill" amendment structure. This Insight discusses the principal features of the House discharge rule and links to additional reading material on the subject.

The House discharge rule, clause 2 of Rule XV, establishes a parliamentary mechanism whereby 218 Members of the House of Representatives—a majority of the chamber—can bring a bill or resolution to...

Commemorations in Congress: Options for Honoring Individuals, Groups, and Events

Since its inception, Congress has used commemorative legislation to express public gratitude for distinguished contributions; dramatize the virtues of individuals, groups, and causes; and perpetuate the remembrance of significant events. During the past two centuries, commemoratives have become an integral part of the American political tradition. They have been used to authorize the minting of commemorative coins and Congressional Gold Medals; fund monuments and memorials; create federal holidays; establish commissions to celebrate important anniversaries; and name public works,...

Military Construction: Process, Outcomes, and Frequently Asked Questions

Congress appropriates several billion dollars annually to support and sustain a broad footprint of military bases, reflecting both a federal investment in local communities and a local investment in national defense. Specific military construction project authorizationsprovided through the annual National Defense Authorization Actenable the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to plan, program, design, and build the runways, piers, warehouses, barracks, schools, hospitals, child development centers, and other facilities needed to support U.S. military...

The Enactment of Appropriations Measures During Lame Duck Sessions

Eleven of the past 12 Congresses, covering the 103rd Congress through the 114th Congress, have concluded with a lame duck session. (No such session occurred in 1996, during the 104th Congress.) Under contemporary conditions, any meeting of Congress that occurs between a congressional election in November and the following January 3 is a lame duck session. The significant characteristic of a lame duck session is that its participants are the sitting Members of the existing Congress, not those who will be entitled to sit in the new Congress.

The enactment of appropriations measures has been...

U.S. Decision to Cease Implementing the Iran Nuclear Agreement

On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that his Administration would cease implementing U.S. commitments under the 2015 multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and reimpose all U.S. sanctions that were in place prior to the JCPOA. His announcement made reference to his previous statements on the issue, including an October 13, 2017, announcement of U.S. strategy on Iran and a January 12, 2018, statement pledging to leave the agreement unless Congress and U.S. allies acted to address the full range of U.S. concerns on Iran. In his May 8 and earlier...

The Senate “Two-Hour Rule” Governing Committee Meeting Times

Paragraph 5(a) of Senate Rule XXVI, sometimes referred to as the “two-hour rule,” restricts the times that most Senate committees and subcommittees can meet when the full Senate is in session. The rule is intended to help balance the Senate’s committee and floor work and to minimize the logistical conflicts that Senators face between participating in committee hearings and markups and attending to their duties on the chamber floor.

Under the terms of the rule, no Senate committee or subcommittee (except the Committees on Appropriations and Budget and their subcommittees) can meet after...

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and an FY2019 Budget Resolution

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA 2018, P.L. 115-123), enacted February 9, 2018, amended the statutory discretionary spending limits for FY2018 and FY2019. BBA 2018 comprised several other components as well, one of which was related to a congressional budget resolution for FY2019. These BBA 2018 “budget resolution” provisions (which may be referred to as a “deemer” or a budget resolution substitute) provide the House and Senate with enforceable levels of spending and revenue for FY2019 in ways that a “traditional” budget resolution would. While it is not unusual for Congress to...

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2016 (74th-114th Congresses)

A “lame duck” session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected but before the end of its own constitutional term. Under present conditions, any meeting of Congress between election day in November and the following January 3 is a lame duck session. Prior to 1933, when the Twentieth Amendment changed the dates of the congressional term, the last regular session of Congress was always a lame duck session. Today, however, the expression is primarily used for any portion of a regular session that falls after an election.

Congress has held 21 lame duck...

Statutory Interpretation: Theories, Tools, and Trends

In the tripartite structure of the U.S. federal government, it is the job of courts to say what the law is, as Chief Justice John Marshall announced in 1803. When courts render decisions on the meaning of statutes, the prevailing view is that a judge’s task is not to make the law, but rather to interpret the law made by Congress. The two main theories of statutory interpretation—purposivism and textualism—disagree about how judges can best adhere to this ideal of legislative supremacy. The problem is especially acute in instances where it is unlikely that Congress anticipated and...

Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction

The House and Senate must pass the same bill or joint resolution in precisely the same form before it can be presented to the President. Once both houses have passed the same measure, they can resolve their differences over the text of that measure either through an exchange of amendments between the houses or through the creation of a conference committee.

The House and Senate each have an opportunity to amend the other chamber’s amendments to a bill; thus, there can be House amendments to Senate amendments to House amendments to a Senate bill. If either chamber accepts the other’s...

Policy and Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: Finding Documents, Analysis, News, and Training

This report is intended to serve as a finding aid for congressional documents, executive branch documents and information, news articles, policy analysis, contacts, and training, for use in policy and legislative research. It does not define or describe the purpose of various government documents; that information can be found in companion CRS Report RL33895, Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff. This report is not intended to be a definitive list of all resources, but rather a guide to pertinent subscriptions available in...

Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of Senate Bills

A Senator who introduces a bill or resolution in the Senate is called its sponsor. Several Senators together may introduce a measure, but only the Senator whose name appears first on the bill is considered its sponsor; the others are cosponsors. A bill can have only one sponsor, but there is no limit on the number of cosponsors it may have.

When a Senator has determined that a bill is ready for introduction, it can be delivered to the bill clerk’s desk on the chamber floor when the Senate is in session. The sponsor must sign the bill and may attach the names of any cosponsors on a separate...

House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies

A principal responsibility of House committees is to conduct markups—to select legislation to consider, to debate it and vote on amendments to it (to mark up), and to report recommendations on passage to the House. This manual examines procedures and strategy related to committee markups and provides sample procedural scripts.

A committee faces many decisions when it considers a policy matter in a markup. It must select what legislation to mark up; decide whether to mark up in committee only or in both subcommittee and committee; consider the effect of referral on the markup; choose how to...

Federal Funding Gaps: A Brief Overview

The Antideficiency Act (31 U.S.C. 1341-1342, 1511-1519) generally bars the obligation of funds in the absence of appropriations. Exceptions are made under the act, including for activities involving “the safety of human life or the protection of property.” The interval during the fiscal year when appropriations for a particular project or activity are not enacted into law, either in the form of a regular appropriations act or a continuing resolution (CR), is referred to as a funding gap. Although funding gaps may occur at the start of the fiscal year, they may also occur any time a CR...

The Holman Rule (House Rule XXI, Clause 2(b))

Although congressional rules establish a general division of responsibility under which questions of policy are kept separate from questions of funding, House rules provide for exceptions in certain circumstances. One such circumstance allows for the inclusion of legislative language in general appropriations bills or amendments thereto for “germane provisions that retrench expenditures by the reduction of amounts of money covered by the bill.” This exception appears in clause 2(b) of House Rule XXI and is known as the Holman rule, after Representative William Holman of Indiana, who first...

Germaneness of Debate in the Senate: The Pastore Rule

Paragraph 1(b) of Senate Rule XIX—commonly known as the Pastore rule, after its author, former Rhode Island Senator John Pastore—requires Senate floor debate to be germane during specific periods of a Senate work day. The rule has been enforced sporadically since its adoption in 1964. In current practice, the germaneness requirements of the Pastore rule are rarely formally invoked on the Senate floor.

Pursuant to the rule, all floor debate must be germane and confined to the specific question then pending before the Senate for the first three hours after (1) the conclusion of the Morning...

Defense Primer: A Guide for New Members

CRS has developed a series of short primers to give Members of Congress an overview of key aspects of the Department of Defense and how Congress exercises authority over it. A consolidated list of these primers is contained in this report, along with links to each document

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The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), signed into law on February 9, 2018, creates a new joint select committee of the House and Senate. The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, made up of 16 Members from the House and Senate—four chosen by each of the chambers’ party leaders—is intended to formulate recommendations and legislative language that will “significantly reform the budget and appropriations process.” The law directs the committee to make a report no later than November 30, 2018, which will be submitted along with legislative language to...

The Budget Control Act: Frequently Asked Questions

When there is concern with deficit or debt levels, Congress will sometimes implement budget enforcement mechanisms to mandate specific budgetary policies or fiscal outcomes. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25), which was signed into law on August 2, 2011, includes several such mechanisms.

The BCA as amended has three main components that currently affect the annual budget. One component imposes annual statutory discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending. A second component requires annual reductions to the initial discretionary spending limits...

Budget Reconciliation Measures Enacted Into Law: 1980-2017

The budget reconciliation process is an optional procedure that operates as an adjunct to the budget resolution process established by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. The chief purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress’s ability to change current law in order to bring revenue, spending, and debt-limit levels into conformity with the policies of the annual budget resolution.

This report identifies and briefly summarizes the 21 budget reconciliation measures enacted into law during the period covering 1980, when reconciliation procedures were first used by both...

Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans: Structure, Procedures, and CRS Experts

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), signed into law on February 9, 2018, creates a new joint select committee of the House and Senate. The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans, made up of 16 Members of the House and Senate—four chosen by each of the chambers’ party leaders—is intended to formulate recommendations and legislative language that will “significantly improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.” The law directs the joint select committee to, no later than November 30, 2018, vote on a...

Resolving Legislative Differences in Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses

The Constitution requires that the House and Senate approve the same bill or joint resolution in precisely the same form before it is presented to the President for his signature or veto. To this end, both houses must pass the same measure and then attempt to reach agreement about its provisions.

The House and Senate may be able to reach agreement by an exchange of amendments between the houses. Each house has one opportunity to amend the amendments from the other house, so there can be Senate amendments to House amendments to Senate amendments to a House bill. House amendments to Senate...

Puerto Rico: CRS Experts

SUPPRESS Puerto Rico is in the midst of a fiscal crisis resulting from economic contraction, public sector debt, outmigration, and other factors. To address the crisis, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA; P.L. 114-187), which was enacted on June 30, 2016. PROMESA established the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (Oversight Board), created processes for adjusting the island’s public debts, among other provisions. PROMESA allocated no federal funds to Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican Governor was charged with...

The 2017 Tax Revision (P.L. 115-97): Comparison to 2017 Tax Law

A tax revision enacted late in 2017 substantively changed the federal income tax system (P.L. 115-97). Broadly, for individuals, the act temporarily modifies income tax rates. Some deductions, credits, and exemptions for individuals are eliminated, while others are substantively modified. These changes are mostly temporary. For businesses, pass-through entities experience a reduction in effective tax rates via a new deduction, which is also temporary. The statutory corporate tax rate is permanently reduced. Many deductions, credits, and other provisions for businesses are also modified....

Suspension of the Rules in the House: Principal Features

“Suspension of the rules” is a procedure that the House of Representatives often uses on the floor to act expeditiously on legislation. This procedure is governed primarily by clause 1 of House Rule XV. When a bill or some other matter is considered “under suspension,” floor debate is limited to 40 minutes, all floor amendments are prohibited, and a two-thirds vote is required for final passage.

Instructing House Conferees

The two houses must agree on the same final version of a bill before it can be presented to the President. The House and Senate often reach final agreement on major legislation through negotiations among conferees that the two houses appoint. Because a conference committee is a negotiating forum, the two houses impose few rules governing its work, leaving it to the conferees themselves to decide how they can conduct their negotiations most productively. Also, the House and Senate give their conferees considerable latitude regarding the content of the agreements they can reach. Nonetheless,...

House Committee Chairs: Considerations, Decisions, and Actions as One Congress Ends and a New Congress Begins

A committee chair serves as the leader of a committee, with responsibility for setting the course and direction of the panel for committee members and the House and for managing a large professional and paraprofessional staff. The senior committee staff should ensure the chair’s goals are carried out effectively.

Once a committee chair is selected during the postelection transition period, he or she, often in consultation with others, makes a series of decisions and takes a series of actions. Some actions complete a committee’s duties in the Congress just ending. Other actions are taken in...

Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History

Censure is a reprimand adopted by one or both chambers of Congress against a Member of Congress, President, federal judge, or other government official. While Member censure is a disciplinary measure that is sanctioned by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 5), non-Member censure is not. Rather, it is a formal expression or “sense of” one or both houses of Congress. As such, censure resolutions targeting non-Members use a variety of statements to highlight conduct deemed by the resolutions’ sponsors to be inappropriate or unauthorized.

Resolutions that attempt to censure the President for...

Banking Law: An Overview of Federal Preemption in the Dual Banking System

Banks play a critical role in the United States economy, channeling funds from savers to borrowers and thereby facilitating economic activity. To address the risks of bank failures and excessive risk-taking, and the problem that consumers at times lack the information or expertise to make sound choices concerning financial products and services, both federal and state lawmakers have imposed a host of regulations on commercial banks.

The United States has what is referred to as a “dual banking system,” in which banks can choose to apply for a charter from a state banking authority or a...

Budget Enforcement Procedures: The Senate Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Rule

The Senate pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, rule generally requires that any legislation projected to increase direct spending or reduce revenues must also include equivalent amounts of direct spending cuts, revenue increases, or a combination of the two so that the legislation does not increase the on-budget deficit in the current fiscal year, the budget year, a six-year period, or an 11-year period (the latter two periods beginning with the current fiscal year). Without such offsetting provisions, the legislation would require the support of at least 60 Senators to waive the rule and be...

A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment: Background and Congressional Options

One of the most persistent political issues facing Congress in recent decades is whether to require that the budget of the United States be in balance. Although a balanced federal budget has long been held as a political ideal, the accumulation of large deficits in recent years has heightened concern that some action to require a balance between revenues and expenditures may be necessary.

The debate over a balanced budget measure actually consists of several interrelated debates. Most prominently, the arguments of proponents have focused on the economy and the possible harm resulting from...

Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills

A Representative who introduces a bill or resolution in the House is called its sponsor. Several Members together may submit a bill, but only the Member whose name appears first on the bill is considered its sponsor; the others are cosponsors. A bill can have only one sponsor, but there is no limit on the number of cosponsors it may have.

Representatives introduce bills in the House by placing them in the wooden box, or “hopper,” located at the bill clerk’s desk on the chamber floor when the House is in session. The original signature of the sponsor must appear on the measure when it is...

Researching Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff

This report is designed to introduce congressional staff to selected governmental and nongovernmental sources that are useful in tracking and obtaining information on federal legislation and regulations. It includes governmental sources, such as Congress.gov, the Government Publishing Office’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), and U.S. Senate and House websites. Nongovernmental or commercial sources include resources such as HeinOnline and the Congressional Quarterly (CQ) websites. The report also highlights classes offered by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Law Library of...

Senate Consideration of Treaties

The consideration of treaties and nominations constitutes the executive business of the Senate. The Senate conducts executive business only after it has resolved into executive session. Senate Rule XXIX is concerned with executive sessions; Rule XXX discusses proceedings on treaties. This report is one of a series of CRS reports on aspects of the legislative process, and it will be updated to reflect any change in the rules and practices of the Senate regarding consideration of treaties.

Senate Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses

Selecting witnesses is one of the most important aspects of planning a Senate hearing. Committees and subcommittees pay careful attention to which viewpoints will be represented, who should testify, and the order and format for presenting witnesses. A witness must be invited by a committee in order to testify. Standing committees and their subcommittees may also subpoena reluctant witnesses.

Senate Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification

Senate standing committees have authority to hold hearings whether the Senate is in session, has recessed, or has adjourned (Rule XXVI, paragraph 1). Regardless of the type of hearing or whether a hearing is held in or outside of Washington, hearings share common aspects of planning and preparation.

Senate Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

Generally, witnesses before Senate committees (except Appropriations) must provide a committee with a copy of their written testimony at least one day prior to their oral testimony (Rule XXVI, paragraph 4(b)). It is common practice to ask a witness to limit his or her oral remarks to a brief summary of the written testimony. A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness’s oral testimony. Senate rules require committees to make publicly available a transcript or recording of any public meeting.

Senate Committee Rules in the 115th Congress: Key Provisions

Senate Rule XXVI establishes specific requirements for certain Senate committee procedures. In addition, each Senate committee is required to adopt rules to govern its own proceedings. These rules may “not be inconsistent with the Rules of the Senate.” Senate committees may also operate according to additional established practices that are not necessarily reflected in their adopted rules but are not specifically addressed by Senate rules. In sum, Senate committees are allowed some latitude to establish tailored procedures to govern certain activities, which can result in significant...

Senate Committee Hearings: Preparation

Committee hearings allow Senators an opportunity to gather information on—and draw attention to—legislation and issues within a committee’s purview, conduct oversight of programs or agencies, and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

This checklist identifies, primarily for staff, many of the tasks that need to be performed by a full committee and, in most cases, subcommittees in advance of a hearing. Some of the tasks are required by Senate or committee rules; others are common committee practice. Some tasks are usually the responsibility of the committee’s majority staff, some are...

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

In the event of a funding gap, the potential impacts of a government shutdown would depend on a program’s or agency’s specific circumstances and, furthermore, how relevant law is interpreted. Table 1 provides names and contact information for CRS subject matter experts on policy concerns and legal issues relating to funding gaps and the processes and effects that may be associated with a government shutdown. Policy areas that are identified in Table 1 include

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

Senate Rules Restricting the Content of Conference Reports

Two Senate rules affect the authority of conferees to include in their report matter that was not passed by the House or Senate before the conference committee was appointed. Colloquially, such provisions are sometimes said to have been “airdropped” into the conference report. First, Rule XXVIII precludes conference agreements from including policy provisions that were not sufficiently related to either the House or the Senate version of the legislation sent to conference. Such provisions are considered to be “out of scope” under long-standing Senate rules and precedents. Second, Paragraph...

Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017

A resolution of inquiry is a simple resolution making a direct request or demand of the President or the head of an executive department to furnish the House with specific factual information in the Administration’s possession. Under the rules and precedents of the House of Representatives, such resolutions, if properly drafted, are given a privileged parliamentary status. This means that, under certain circumstances, a resolution of inquiry can be brought to the House floor for consideration even if the committee to which it was referred has not reported it and the majority party...

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB): Frequently Asked Questions

This report responds to frequently asked questions about the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), including the board’s background, current status, controversial issues including legal challenges, and recent legislative efforts to repeal the IPAB.

For additional information, see CRS Report R41511, The Independent Payment Advisory Board, by Jim Hahn and Christopher M. Davis.

Commemorative Coins: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress

Commemorative coins are produced by the U.S. Mint pursuant to an act of Congress and are often proposed by Members of Congress as part of their representational duties. These coins are legal tender that celebrate and honor American people, places, events, and institutions. Overall, 150 commemorative coins have been minted since 1892. Since 1982, when Congress reinstituted the commemorative program, 90 commemorative coins have been authorized. Since 1998, only two coins may be authorized for any given year. To date, Congress has authorized commemorative coins to be issued through 2019.

The...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2018 in Division D of H.R. 601. The measure also included separate divisions that establish a program to provide foreign assistance concerning basic education (Division A—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act), supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements for FY2017 (Division B), and a temporary suspension of the public debt limit (Division C). On September 8, 2017, the President signed H.R. 601 into law (P.L. 115-56).

Division D of H.R. 601 was termed a “continuing...

Commodity Futures Trading Commission: Proposed Reauthorization in the 115th Congress

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), created in 1974, regulates futures, most options, and swaps markets. The CFTC administers the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA; P.L. 74-765, 7 U.S.C. §§1 et seq.), enacted in 1936, to monitor trading in certain derivatives markets. The CFTC was last reauthorized in 2008 as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (P.L. 110-246), which included authorization of appropriations through FY2013. Although the underlying authority in the statute to administer programs does not have an explicit expiration, the authorization of appropriations only...

The Financial CHOICE Act in the 115th Congress: Selected Policy Issues

The Financial CHOICE Act (FCA; H.R. 10) was introduced on April 26, 2017, by Representative Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services. It passed the House on June 8, 2017. Selected provisions of H.R. 10 were then added to the appropriations bill passed by the House (H.R. 3354).

H.R. 10, as passed, is a wide-ranging proposal with 12 titles that would alter many parts of the financial regulatory system. Much of the FCA is in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203), a broad package of regulatory...

Field Hearings: Fact Sheet on Purposes, Rules, Regulations, and Guidelines

Field hearings are congressional hearings held outside Washington, DC. They date at least to the Civil War, when committees sometimes traveled to the front lines to observe conditions and war preparedness.

Budget Actions in 2017

The Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse, but does not dictate how Congress must fulfill this constitutional duty. Congress has, therefore, developed certain types of budgetary legislation, along with rules and practices that govern its content and consideration. This set of budgetary legislation, rules, and practices is often referred to as the congressional budget process.

There is no prescribed congressional budget process that must be strictly followed each year, and Congress does not always consider budgetary measures in a linear or predictable pattern. Such...

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): History and Overview

Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) through the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-282). The act states, “The primary function of the OSTP Director is to provide, within the Executive Office of the President [EOP], advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of issues that require attention at the highest level of Government.” Further, “The Office shall serve as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans,...

The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the Senate Floor

The Constitution mandates that Congress convene at noon on January 3, unless the preceding Congress by law designated a different day. P.L. 113-201 set January 6, 2015, as the convening date of the 114th Congress. The 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017. The Senate follows a well-established routine on the opening day of a new Congress. The proceedings include swearing in Senators elected or reelected in the most recent general election (approximately one-third of the Senate) or newly appointed to the convening Senate; establishing the presence of a quorum; adopting administrative...

Provisions of Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 (ORRA)

Per the reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution for FY2017 (S.Con.Res. 3), the House passed its reconciliation bill, H.R. 1628—the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—with amendments on May 4, 2017. The House bill was received in the Senate on June 7, 2017, and the next day the Senate majority leader had it placed on the calendar, making it available for floor consideration. The Senate Budget Committee published on its website a “discussion draft” titled, “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” (BCRA) on June 22, 2017, and subsequently updated the discussion draft on June 26,...

The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution sets a term of office of two years for all Members of the House. One House ends at the conclusion of each two-year Congress, and the newly elected Representatives must constitute a new House at the beginning of the next Congress. Consequently, the House must choose its Speaker and officers and adopt the chamber’s rules of procedure every two years.

The Constitution mandates that Congress convene at noon on January 3, unless the preceding Congress by law designated a different day. P.L. 113-201 set January 6, 2015, as the convening date of the 114th...

Comparison of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)

Per the reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution for FY2017 (S.Con.Res. 3), the House passed its reconciliation bill, H.R. 1628—the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—with amendments on May 4, 2017. The House bill was received in the Senate on June 7, 2017, and the next day the Senate majority leader had it placed on the calendar, making it available for floor consideration. The Senate Budget Committee published on its website a “discussion draft” titled, “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” (BCRA) on June 22, subsequently updated the discussion draft on June 26, again on...

A Retrospective of House Rules Changes Since the 110th Congress

One of the majority party’s prerogatives is writing House rules and using its numbers to effect the chamber’s rules on the day a new House convenes. Because all Members of the House stand for election every two years, the Members-elect constitute a new House that must adopt rules at the convening of each Congress. Although a new House largely adopts the chamber rules that existed in the previous Congress, it also adopts changes to those rules. Institutional and political developments during the preceding Congress inform rules changes that a party continuing in the majority might make....

Financial Regulatory Relief: Approaches for Congress, Regulators, and the Administration

The 2007-2009 financial crisis led to significant changes in financial regulation, but critics argue that the burden these changes have imposed now exceeds their benefits. Congress and the Administration are considering financial regulatory relief from various postcrisis regulatory changes, including the Dodd-Frank Act (P.L. 111-203). This report provides an overview of the options available to pursue that goal.

Approaches for Congress

Congress can mandate that regulators provide relief through legislation. Most relief legislation likely would follow the normal legislative process. For...

Availability of Legislative Measures in the House of Representatives (The “Three-Day Rule”)

House rules govern the length of time legislative measures must be available to Members before being considered on the floor. For measures reported from committee, the committee report must have been available for three calendar days, excluding weekends and legal holidays unless the House is in session on such days. Conference reports must also have been available for three calendar days, and special rules for considering measures for one legislative day. Bills and joint resolutions that have not been reported by committee, and therefore are not accompanied by a written report, also may...

Quorum Requirements in the Senate: Committee and Chamber

Quorum Requirements in Committee. Senate Rule XXVI establishes minimum quorum requirements for four areas of committee activity. These are listed in the following table.

H.R. 1628: The American Health Care Act (AHCA)

In January 2017, the House and Senate adopted a budget resolution for FY2017 (S.Con.Res. 3), which reflects an agreement between the chambers on the budget for FY2017 and sets forth budgetary levels for FY2018-FY2026. S.Con.Res. 3 also includes reconciliation instructions directing specific committees to develop and report legislation that would change laws within their respective jurisdictions to reduce the deficit. These instructions trigger the budget reconciliation process, which may allow certain legislation to be considered under expedited procedures. The reconciliation instructions...

Enrollment of Legislation: Relevant Congressional Procedures

An enrolled bill or resolution is the form of a measure finally agreed to by both chambers of Congress. Enrollment occurs in the chamber where the measure originated and is carried out by enrolling clerks under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and Secretary of the Senate. Enrolled bills and joint resolutions are signed by the presiding officers of each chamber (or their designees) and are presented to the President by the House Clerk or Secretary of the Senate, depending on the chamber of origination.

In instances in which Congress determines that the enrolled...

Senate Unanimous Consent Agreements: Potential Effects on the Amendment Process

The Senate frequently enters into unanimous consent agreements (also called “UC agreements”) that establish procedure on a bill that the Senate is considering or will soon consider. There are few restrictions on what these agreements can provide, and once agreed to, they can be altered only by a further unanimous consent action. In recent practice, the Senate often begins by adopting a general UC agreement, then adds elements in piecemeal fashion as debate continues. UC agreements often contain provisions affecting the floor amending process, most often in one or more of the ways detailed below.

The Speaker of the House: House Officer, Party Leader, and Representative

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is widely viewed as symbolizing the power and authority of the House. The Speaker’s most prominent role is that of presiding officer of the House. In this capacity, the Speaker is empowered by House rules to administer proceedings on the House floor, including recognition of Members to speak on the floor or make motions and appointment of Members to conference committees. The Speaker also oversees much of the nonlegislative business of the House, such as general control over the Hall of the House and the House side of the Capitol and service as...

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

As part of the process of making an appointment to an advice and consent position, the President submits a nomination to the Senate. Most nominations are referred to the appropriate Senate committee or committees on the day they are received. Such referrals are guided by Senate Rule XXV, which establishes the subject matter under the purview of each committee and directs that “all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to [those] subjects” be referred to that committee. Precedents set by prior referrals, standing orders, and unanimous...

Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the House of Representatives

The Speaker usually does not take the initiative to prevent the House from considering proposals or taking actions that would violate the House’s rules. Instead, whenever a Member believes that the House’s legislative procedures are being violated in some way, or are about to be violated, that Member may insist that the House’s procedures be enforced by making a point of order against the alleged violation.

Committee Types and Roles

Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among more than 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

Constitutional Points of Order in the Senate

In general, the Senate’s presiding officer does not take the initiative in enforcing Senate rules and precedents. Instead, a Senator may raise a point of order if he or she believes the Senate is taking (or is about to take) an action that violates the rules. In most circumstances, the presiding officer rules on the point of order on advice of the Parliamentarian; that ruling is typically subject to an appeal on which the Senate votes (unless the appeal is tabled or withdrawn). Pursuant to Rule XX, however, in certain circumstances a point of order is not ruled on by the presiding officer...

The Senate’s Executive Calendar

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,...

The Senate’s Calendar of Business

The Senate’s Calendar of Business lists bills, resolutions, and other items of legislative business that are eligible for floor consideration. When a Senate committee reports a bill, it is said to be placed “on the calendar.” It is not in order for the majority leader or any other Senator to move that the Senate proceed to the consideration of a measure that is not on the calendar, though the majority leader could ask unanimous consent to do so. A Senate measure that is not on the calendar either has been referred to a committee and is awaiting committee action, or it is being “held at the...

Senate Proceedings Establishing Majority Cloture for Supreme Court Nominations: In Brief

On April 6, 2017, the Senate reinterpreted Rule XXII to allow a majority of Senators voting, a quorum being present, to invoke cloture on nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before the Senate reinterpreted the rule, ending consideration of nominations to the Supreme Court required a vote of three-fifths of Senators duly chosen and sworn (60 Senators unless there is more than one vacancy). The practical effect of the Senate action on April 6 was to reduce the level of support necessary to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.

The method used to reinterpret Senate Rule XXII is, perhaps, of as...

Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure

Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution provides that the President shall appoint officers of the United States “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” This report describes the process by which the Senate provides advice and consent on presidential nominations, including receipt and referral of nominations, committee practices, and floor procedure.

The vast majority of presidential appointees are confirmed routinely by the Senate. A regularized process facilitates quick action on thousands of government positions. The process also allows for lengthy scrutiny of candidates...

The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction

The standing rules of the Senate promote deliberation by permitting Senators to debate at length and by precluding a simple majority from ending debate when they are prepared to vote to approve a bill. This right of extended debate permits filibusters that can be brought to an end if the Senate invokes cloture, usually by a vote of three-fifths of all Senators. Even then, consideration can typically continue under cloture for an additional 30 hours. The possibility of filibusters encourages the Senate to seek consensus whenever possible and to conduct business under the terms of unanimous...

Filibusters and Cloture in the Senate

The filibuster is widely viewed as one of the Senate’s most characteristic procedural features. Filibustering includes any use of dilatory or obstructive tactics to block a measure by preventing it from coming to a vote. The possibility of filibusters exists because Senate rules place few limits on Senators’ rights and opportunities in the legislative process.

In particular, a Senator who seeks recognition usually has a right to the floor if no other Senator is speaking, and then that Senator may speak for as long as he or she wishes. Also, there is no motion by which a simple majority of...

Invoking Cloture in the Senate

Cloture is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to set an end to a debate without also rejecting the bill, amendment, conference report, motion, or other matter it has been debating. A Senator can make a nondebatable motion to table an amendment, and if a majority of the Senate votes for that motion, the effect is to reject the amendment. Thus, the motion to table cannot be used to conclude a debate when Senators still wish to speak and to enable the Senate to vote for the proposal it is considering. Only the cloture provisions of Rule XXII achieve this purpose. In the 113th...

How Measures Are Brought to the Senate Floor: A Brief Introduction

Two basic methods are used by the Senate to bring legislation to the floor for consideration: (1) The Senate, at the majority leader’s request, grants unanimous consent to take up a matter, or (2) it agrees to his motion to proceed to consider it. Because the motion to proceed is subject to debate in most circumstances, it is less frequently used. Both methods are derived from the basic premise that the Senate as a body may decide what matters it considers. The Senate may also use the same two methods to bring up executive business (nominations and treaties).

This report will be updated...

Calendars of the House of Representatives

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...

Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920 to 2017

This report details the evolution of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ subcommittee structure from the 1920s to the present. In 1920, the House adopted a change in its rules to consolidate jurisdiction over all appropriations in the Appropriations Committee. After the enactment of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the House reorganized its Appropriations Committee by establishing for the first time a set of subcommittees to consider appropriations bills based on the administrative organization of the executive branch. The Senate followed suit in 1922, and the two...

Filling Advice and Consent Positions at the Outset of Recent Administrations, 1981-2009

The length of the appointment processes during presidential transitions has been of concern to observers for more than 30 years. The process is likely to develop a bottleneck during this time due to the large number of candidates who must be selected, vetted, and, in the case of positions filled through appointment by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate (PAS positions), considered by that body.

The appointment process has three stages: selection and vetting, nomination and Senate consideration, and presidential appointment. Congress has taken steps to accelerate...

Provisions Affecting the Congressional Budget Process Included in H.Res. 5 (115th Congress)

On January 3, 2017, the House passed H.Res. 5, adopting the standing rules for the House of Representatives for the 115th Congress. In addition to the standing rules, H.Res. 5 included several separate orders. This report provides information on the standing rules and separate orders that might affect the congressional budget process.

“Dear Colleague” Letters in the House of Representatives: Past Practices and Issues for Congress

The practice of one Member, committee, or office broadly corresponding to other Members, committee, or officers dates back to at least the 1800s. At least as early as 1913, this correspondence was labeled as “Dear Colleague” letters. Since 2003, it has been possible to track the volume of House “Dear Colleague” letters sent through an email-based distribution system (from 2003 to 2008) and a web-based distribution system (since 2008). The creation of the web-based e-“Dear Colleague” distribution system in 2008 has made it possible to systematically examine “Dear Colleague” letters, thereby...

Bypassing Senate Committees: Rule XIV and Unanimous Consent

Most bills and joint resolutions introduced in the Senate, and many House-numbered bills and joint resolutions received by the Senate after House passage, are referred to committee. Some bills and joint resolutions, however, are not referred to committee. This report examines the alternative procedures and actions that the Senate uses to bypass committee consideration of bills and joint resolutions. It also provides examples of how the Senate uses these alternative procedures and actions to facilitate consideration and passage of some bills and joint resolutions.

Provisions of Senate Rule...

“Holds” in the Senate

The Senate “hold” is an informal practice whereby Senators communicate to Senate leaders, often in the form of a letter, their policy views and scheduling preferences regarding measures and matters available for floor consideration. Unique to the upper chamber, holds can be understood as information-sharing devices predicated on the unanimous consent nature of Senate decision-making. Senators place holds to accomplish a variety of purposes—to receive notification of upcoming legislative proceedings, for instance, or to express objections to a particular proposal or executive nomination—but...

Considering Measures in the House Under the One-Hour Rule

The fundamental rule of the House of Representatives governing debate is the one-hour rule. Clause 2 of Rule XVII states in part that no one shall “occupy more than one hour in debate on a question in the House.” When the House debates a bill on the floor under this rule, the bill is said to be considered “in the House.” The House considers bills on the floor under the one-hour rule unless it resorts to one of the alternative packages of floor procedures provided under other House rules, especially the Committee of the Whole and motions to suspend the rules. In some cases, a primary...

Questions of Privilege in the House

The House of Representatives distinguishes between privileged business and questions of privilege. Privileged business relates to the order or priority of business before the House and is defined in House rules and precedents as business that has precedence over the regular order of business and so may supersede or interrupt other matters that might be called up or pending before the House. Questions of privilege constitute one form of privileged business. Clause 1 of House Rule IX recognizes two kinds of questions of privilege: questions of the privileges of the House and questions of...

Privileged Business on the House Floor

Privileged business is the legislative business of the House that Members have a right to call up for consideration on the floor when the House is not engaged in considering some other matter. Privileged business consists of various kinds of bills, resolutions, and other matters. (The concept and list of privileged motions, such as the motion to adjourn, are not discussed here.).

Blue-Slipping: Enforcing the Origination Clause in the House of Representatives

Article I, Section 7, clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution is known generally as the Origination Clause because it requires that

[a]ll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

As generally understood, this clause carries two kinds of prohibitions. First, the Senate may not originate any measure that includes a provision for raising revenue, and second, the Senate may not propose any amendment that would raise revenue to a non-revenue measure. However, the Senate may generally amend a...

Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution

Authoring and introducing legislation is fundamental to the task of representing voters as a U.S. Senator. Part of what makes the American political process unique is that it affords all Senators an ability to propose their own ideas for chamber consideration. By comparison, most other democratic governments around the world rely on an executive official, often called a premier, chancellor, or prime minister, to originate and submit policy proposals for discussion and enactment by the legislature. Legislators serving in other countries generally lack the power to initiate legislative...

Considering Legislation on the House Floor: Common Practices in Brief

This brief overview explains the most common ways legislation is considered on the House floor, and it describes the types of questions most likely to be voted on and the opportunities for legislative debate that are most frequently used by Members.

The most common method used to consider bills and resolutions in the House is suspension of the rules. This method has evolved as a way for measures that enjoy widespread support to be quickly processed by the House. A motion to suspend the rules and pass a bill is debatable for 40 minutes. The Member making the motion controls 20 minutes of...

Introducing a House Bill or Resolution

Authoring and introducing legislation is fundamental to the task of representing voters as a Member of Congress. In fact, part of what makes the American political process unique is that it affords all Members an ability to propose their own ideas for chamber consideration. By comparison, most other democratic governments around the world rely on an executive official, often called a premier, chancellor, or prime minister, to originate and submit policy proposals for discussion and enactment by the legislature. Legislators serving in other countries generally lack the power to initiate...

How Legislation Is Brought to the House Floor: A Snapshot of Parliamentary Practice in the 114th Congress (2015-2016)

The House of Representatives has several different parliamentary procedures through which it can bring legislation to the chamber floor. Which of these will be used in a given situation depends on many factors, including the type of measure being considered, its cost, the amount of political or policy controversy surrounding it, and the degree to which Members want to debate it and propose amendments. This report provides a snapshot of the forms and origins of measures that, according to the Legislative Information System of the U.S. Congress, received action on the House floor in the...

Biennial Budgeting: Issues, Options, and Congressional Actions

Difficulties in the timely enactment of budgetary legislation have long fueled interest in the idea that the congressional budget process could be better structured in a way that eases time constraints. The need for consideration of budget matters in the form of concurrent resolutions on the budget, reconciliation measures, tax measures, public debt measures, authorizations, regular appropriations, continuing appropriations, and supplemental appropriations has been criticized as time consuming, repetitive, and inefficient. One long-discussed reform proposal would change the budget cycle...

Statutory Restrictions on the Position of Secretary of Defense: Issues for Congress

The proposed nomination of General (Ret.) James Mattis, United States Marine Corps (hereinafter referred to as “General Mattis”), who retired from the military in 2013, to be Secretary of Defense requires both houses of Congress to consider whether and how to suspend—or remove—a provision contained in Title 10 U.S.C. §113 that states,

A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.

This provision was originally contained in the 1947 National Security Act (P.L. 80-253),...

Parliamentary Rights of the Delegates and Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico

As officers who represent territories and properties possessed or administered by the United States but not admitted to statehood, the five House delegates and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico do not enjoy all the same parliamentary rights as Members of the House. They may vote and otherwise act similarly to Members in legislative committee. They may not vote on the House floor but may participate in debate and make most motions there. Under the rules of the 115th Congress (2017-2018), the delegates and resident commissioner may not vote in, but are permitted to preside over, the...

Party Leaders in the United States Congress, 1789-2017

This report briefly describes current responsibilities and selection mechanisms for 15 House and Senate party leadership posts and provides tables with historical data, including service dates, party affiliation, and other information for each. Tables have been updated as of the report’s issuance date to reflect leadership changes.

Although party divisions appeared almost from the First Congress, the formally structured party leadership organizations now taken for granted are a relatively modern development. Constitutionally specified leaders, namely the Speaker of the House and the...

The Budget Reconciliation Process: Stages of Consideration

The purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress’s ability to bring existing spending, revenue, and debt limit laws into compliance with current fiscal priorities and goals established in the annual budget resolution. In adopting a budget resolution, Congress is agreeing upon its budgetary goals for the upcoming fiscal year. Because it is in the form of a concurrent resolution, however, it is not presented to the President or enacted into law. As a consequence, any statutory changes concerning spending or revenues that are necessary to implement these policies must be...

Overview of Further Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 2028)

This report is an analysis of the provisions in H.R. 2028, which provides further continuing appropriations for FY2017 through April 28, 2017. The measure also included appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year for Overseas Contingency Operations in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act (Division B). On December 10, 2016, the President signed H.R. 2028 into law (P.L. 114-254).

Division A of H.R. 2028 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because it provided temporary authority for federal agencies and programs to continue spending in FY2017 in the same manner as a...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Votes and Legislative Actions Since the 95th Congress

Current law forbids the federal government from offering energy leases or from allowing activities leading to energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, or the Refuge) in northeastern Alaska. For several decades, a major energy debate has been whether to approve energy development in ANWR, and if so, under what conditions, or to continue to prohibit development to protect the area’s biological resources. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Its development has been debated for more than 50 years, and the level of debate fluctuates with gasoline...

Senate Standing Committees’ Rules on Legislative Activities and Executive Business: Analysis for the 114th Congress

Senate Rule XXVI directs Senate committees to adopt rules of procedure and publish them in the Congressional Record by March 1 of the first year of a new Congress. A committee’s rules must be “not inconsistent” with the Senate’s rules. Committee rules, even if they have not been amended, must be revalidated in each Congress as provided in Rule XXVI.

Committee rules cover a variety of subjects—from meeting dates to quorums to processing nominations. Some Senate rules that are reflected in committees’ rules must be followed, such as the rule that requires a majority of a committee to be...

The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction

The daily order of business on the floor of the House of Representatives is governed by standing rules that make certain matters and actions privileged for consideration. On a day-to-day basis, however, the House usually decides to grant individual bills privileged access to the floor, using one of several parliamentary mechanisms.

The standing rules of the House include several different parliamentary mechanisms that the body may use to act on bills and resolutions. Which of these will be employed in a given instance usually depends on the extent to which Members want to debate and amend...

Limitations in Appropriations Measures: An Overview of Procedural Issues

Both the House and Senate have internal rules encouraging the separation of money and policy decisions. These rules bar legislative provisions from being included in general appropriations measures under most circumstances. Limitations within appropriations measures are provisions that negatively restrict the amount, purpose, or availability of funds without changing existing law. The effect of these provisions is to limit the actions for which funds may be used through the capping or outright denial of funds. Limitations are distinct from legislative provisions, which have the effect of...

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities—for example, national defense, education, and homeland security—as well as general government operations. Congress has developed certain rules and practices for the consideration of appropriations measures, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of this process.

Appropriations measures are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. In recent years these measures have...

House Offset Amendments to Appropriations Bills: Procedural Considerations

One of the most common methods for changing spending priorities in appropriations bills on the House floor is through offset amendments. House offset amendments may generally change spending priorities in a pending appropriations measure by increasing spending for certain activities (or creating spending for new activities not previously included in the bill) and offsetting the increase with funding decreases in other activities in the bill. Offset amendments are needed to avoid points of order under Sections 302(f) and 311(a) of the Congressional Budget Act, enforcing certain spending...

Authorization of Appropriations: Procedural and Legal Issues

To provide funding for discretionary spending programs of the government, Congress generally uses an annual appropriations process. Under congressional rules, when making decisions about the funding of individual items or programs, however, Congress may be constrained by the terms of previously enacted legislation. The way in which the House and Senate interpret and apply this concept under their respective rules and precedents creates a distinction between authorized and unauthorized appropriations. This report provides a brief explanation of this distinction, and its significance for...

The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate’s “Byrd Rule”

Reconciliation is a procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress implements budget resolution policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs. The principal focus in the reconciliation process has been deficit reduction, but in some years reconciliation has involved revenue reduction generally and spending increases in selected areas. Although reconciliation is an optional procedure, it has been used most years since its first use by the House and Senate in 1980 (20 reconciliation bills have been enacted into law and four have been...

The Congressional Review Act: Frequently Asked Questions

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency. The CRA was included as part of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), which was signed into law on March 29, 1996. The CRA requires agencies to report on their rulemaking activities to Congress and provides Congress with a special set of procedures under which to consider legislation to overturn those rules.

Under the CRA, before a rule can take effect, an agency must submit a report to each house of Congress and the Comptroller General...

Counting Electoral Votes: An Overview of Procedures at the Joint Session, Including Objections by Members of Congress

The Constitution and federal law establish a detailed timetable following the presidential election during which time the members of the electoral college convene in the 50 state capitals and in the District of Columbia, cast their votes for President and Vice President, and submit their votes through state officials to both houses of Congress. The electoral votes are scheduled to be opened before a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2017. Federal law specifies the procedures which are to be followed at this session and provides procedures for challenges to the validity of an...

Contingent Election of the President and Vice President by Congress: Perspectives and Contemporary Analysis

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution requires that presidential and vice presidential candidates gain “a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed” in order to win election. With a total of 538 electors representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia, 270 electoral votes is the “magic number,” the arithmetic majority necessary to win the presidency.

What would happen if no candidate won a majority of electoral votes? In these circumstances, the 12th Amendment also provides that the House of Representatives would elect the President, and the Senate would elect the Vice...

Congress and the Budget: 2016 Actions and Events

The Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse, but does not dictate how Congress must fulfill this constitutional duty. Congress has, therefore, developed certain types of budgetary legislation, along with rules and practices that govern its content and consideration. This set of budgetary legislation, rules, and practices is often referred to as the congressional budget process.

There is no prescribed congressional budget process that must be strictly followed each year, and Congress does not always consider budgetary measures in a linear or predictable pattern. Such...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 5325)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2017 in H.R. 5325. The measure also included provisions covering appropriations in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for all of FY2017 (Division A), as well as emergency funds to combat the Zika virus and provide relief for flood victims in Louisiana and other affected states (Division B). On September 29, 2016, the President signed H.R. 5325 into law (P.L. 114-223).

Division C of H.R. 5325 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because measures to...

The Financial CHOICE Act in the 114th Congress: Policy Issues

The Financial CHOICE Act (FCA; H.R. 5983), sponsored by Chairman Jeb Hensarling, was ordered to be reported by the House Committee on Financial Services on September 13, 2016. The bill is a wide-ranging proposal with 11 titles that would alter many parts of the financial regulatory system. Much of the FCA is in response to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203), a broad package of regulatory reform legislation that initiated the largest change to the financial regulatory system since at least 1999. Many of the provisions of the...

Implementing Bills for Trade Agreements: Statutory Procedures under Trade Promotion Authority

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (BCTPAA, title II of P.L. 114-26) renewed the “trade promotion authority” (TPA) under which implementing bills for trade agreements that address non-tariff barriers to trade (and certain levels of tariff reduction) are eligible for expedited (or “fast track”) consideration by Congress under the “trade authorities procedures” established by the Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618). These expedited procedures provide for automatic introduction of the implementing bill submitted by the President, attempt to ensure that...

Sessions, Adjournments, and Recesses of Congress

The House and Senate use the terms session, adjournment, and recess in both informal and more formal ways, but the concepts apply in parallel ways to both the daily and the annual activities of Congress. A session begins when the chamber convenes and ends when it adjourns. A recess, by contrast, does not terminate a session, but only suspends it temporarily.

In context of the daily activities of Congress, any calendar day on which a chamber is in session may be called a (calendar) “day of session.” A legislative day, by contrast, continues until the chamber adjourns. A session that...

Legislative History Research: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff

This report provides an overview of federal legislative history research, the legislative process, and where to find congressional documents. The report also summarizes some of the reasons researchers are interested in legislative history, briefly describes the actions a piece of legislation might undergo during the legislative process, and provides a list of easily accessible print and electronic resources. This report will be updated as needed.

Congressional Censure and “No Confidence” Votes Regarding Public Officials

The House and the Senate have, from time to time in the past, proposed and—on some occasions—adopted a resolution which has expressed the body’s disapproval, condemnation, censure, or lack of confidence regarding a particular official in the executive branch of the federal government.

Such actions have not been considered as part of the express impeachment authority of the House within the Constitution (nor the authority to try such impeachments in the Senate), nor have they generally been considered as either part of the inherent contempt authority of either house of Congress or the...

Statements of Administration Policy

Presidents communicate their views on pending legislation in a variety of ways. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) formally communicates the Administration’s views by way of Statements of Administration Policy. Statements of Administration Policy, or SAPs, are designed to signal the Administration’s position on legislation scheduled on the House and Senate floor.

SAPs are often the first public document outlining the Administration’s views on pending legislation and allow for the Administration to assert varying levels of support for or opposition to a bill. While Administrations...

Research Tax Credit: Current Law and Policy Issues for the 114th Congress

Technological innovation is a primary engine of long-term economic growth, and research and development (R&D) serves as the lifeblood of innovation. The federal government encourages private investment in R&D in several ways, including a tax credit for increases in spending on qualified research above a base amount.

This report describes the current status of the credit, summarizes its legislative history, and discusses policy issues it raises.

The research tax credit (also known as the research and experimentation (or R&E) tax credit) was permanently extended in 2015. Since its enactment...

Spending and Tax Expenditures: Distinctions and Major Programs

Spending programs and tax expenditures are the two primary ways that the federal government provides benefits to the public. Though each type of intervention represents a transfer from the government to individuals and firms, differences in the budget process, saliency, and targeting may have ramifications for usage across different types of services. This report briefly describes spending programs and tax expenditures, observes a few ways that they differ, and discusses how those distinctions may inform the relative use of each policy across the government portfolio.

Federal expenditures...

“Sense of” Resolutions and Provisions

One or both houses of Congress may formally express opinions about subjects of current national interest through freestanding simple or concurrent resolutions (called generically “sense of the House,” “sense of the Senate,” or “sense of the Congress” resolutions). These opinions may also be included in legislation as introduced or added later by amendment. This report identifies the various forms these expressions may take and the procedures governing such actions.

Legislative Procedures for Adjusting the Public Debt Limit: A Brief Overview

Nearly all of the outstanding debt of the federal government is subject to a statutory limit, which is set forth as a dollar limitation in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b). From time to time, Congress considers and passes legislation to adjust or suspend this limit.

The annual budget resolution is required to include appropriate levels of the public debt for each fiscal year covered by the resolution. The budget resolution, however, does not become law. Therefore, the enactment of subsequent legislation is necessary in order to implement budget resolution policies, including changes to the statutory...

Calling Up Business on the Senate Floor

The Senate takes up measures and matters under procedures set in Senate rules and by long-standing customs, thereby giving it flexibility in setting its floor agenda. This report first treats those processes or customs most often used by the Senate and then discusses some procedures less often used to call up business.

This report will be revised as events warrant.

Tax Reform in the 114th Congress: An Overview of Proposals

Many agree that the U.S. tax system is in need of reform. Congress continues to explore ways to make the U.S. tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient. Identifying and enacting policies that will result in a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system remains a challenge.

On December 10, 2014, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means introduced a comprehensive tax reform proposal, the Tax Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 1). The bill proposed substantial changes to both the individual and corporate income tax systems, reducing statutory tax rates for many taxpayers, while...

The Budget Reconciliation Process: Timing of Legislative Action

The budget reconciliation process is an optional procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that operates as an adjunct to the annual budget resolution process. The chief purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress’s ability to change current law in order to bring revenue and spending levels into conformity with the policies of the budget resolution. Accordingly, reconciliation may be the most potent budget enforcement tool available to Congress for a large portion of the budget.

Reconciliation is a two-stage process in which reconciliation instructions are...

The President’s Budget: Overview of Structure and Timing of Submission to Congress

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended and later codified in the U.S. Code, requires the President to submit a consolidated federal budget to Congress toward the beginning of each regular session of Congress. Under 31 U.S.C. §1105(a), the President must submit the budget—which contains budgetary proposals, projections, and other required reports—to Congress on or after the first Monday in January, but no later than the first Monday in February.

The President’s budget, or the Budget of the United States Government as it is referred to in statute, is required to include in part...

Senate Committee Rules in the 114th Congress: Key Provisions

Senate Rule XXVI establishes specific requirements for certain Senate committee procedures. In addition, each Senate committee is required to adopt rules to govern its own proceedings. These rules may “not be inconsistent with the Rules of the Senate.” Senate committees may also operate according to additional established practices that are not necessarily reflected in their adopted rules but are not specifically addressed by Senate rules. In sum, Senate committees are allowed some latitude to establish tailored procedures to govern certain activities, which can result in significant...

Post-Committee Adjustment in the Modern House: The Use of Rules Committee Prints

Floor proceedings in the U.S. House of Representatives often begin on the basis of legislation reported from committee. In some instances, adjustments to committee recommendations are made and a new legislative text is presented for chamber consideration. These “post-committee adjustments” are not new to the House, but the frequency of their use and the mechanics of executing them have changed in recent years. It is now common for legislative adjustments to be reflected in a “Rules Committee print” that is established as the base text at the outset of floor consideration (in lieu of a...

Provisions of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762

The FY2016 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 11) established the congressional budget for the government for FY2016 and set forth budgetary levels for FY2017-FY2025. It also included reconciliation instructions for House and Senate committees to submit changes in laws to reduce the federal deficit to their respective budget committees.

Specifically, S.Con.Res. 11 instructed three committees of the House and two committees of the Senate to submit changes in laws within each committee’s jurisdiction to reduce the deficit by not less than $1 billion for the period FY2016-FY2025. Additionally,...

Senate Legislative Procedures: Published Sources of Information

The Senate publishes its rules, precedents, and other related information so that Senators and their staff have convenient access to the Senate’s legislative procedures and can gauge how those procedures are likely to apply in various situations. Information about the Senate’s legislative procedures is published in four official documents.

Budget Reconciliation Process: Timing of Committee Responses to Reconciliation Directives

When reconciliation directives (also referred to as reconciliation instructions) are included in an annual budget resolution, their purpose is to require committees to develop and report reconciliation legislation that will achieve the budgetary goals set forth in the annual budget resolution. The reconciliation directives included in the budget resolution specify several things, including the committee instructed to report reconciliation legislation, the level of budgetary changes the committee should report, and the date by which the committee should report.

Although reconciliation...

Continuing Resolutions: Overview of Components and Recent Practices

Congress uses an annual appropriations process to fund the routine activities of most federal agencies. This process anticipates the completion of 12 regular appropriations bills to fund these activities before the beginning of the fiscal year. Over the past half century, the timing of congressional action on regular appropriations bills has varied considerably, but enactment after the start of the fiscal year has been a recurring issue. Until regular appropriations for a fiscal year are enacted, one or more continuing appropriations acts (commonly known as continuing resolutions or CRs)...

Omnibus Appropriations Acts: Overview of Recent Practices

Omnibus appropriations acts have become a significant feature of the legislative process in recent years as Congress and the President have used them more frequently to bring action on the regular appropriations cycle to a close. Following a discussion of pertinent background information, this report reviews the recent enactment of such measures and briefly addresses several issues raised by their use.

For nearly two centuries, regular appropriations acts were considered by the House and Senate as individual measures and enacted as standalone laws. In 1950, the House and Senate undertook a...

The Motion to Recommit in the House of Representatives

The motion to recommit provides a final opportunity for the House to affect a measure before passage, either by amending the measure or sending it back to committee.

The motion to recommit is often referred to as “the minority’s motion,” because preference in recognition for offering a motion to recommit is given to a member of the minority party who is opposed to the bill. The stated purpose of giving the minority party this right was to allow them to “have a vote upon its position upon great public questions.” House rules protect this minority right, as it is not in order for the House...

Potential Policy Implications of the House Reconciliation Bill (H.R. 3762)

On December 3, 2015, the Senate passed an amendment to H.R. 3762. For information about the Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 and how it compares to the House-passed version of H.R. 3762, see CRS Report R44300, Provisions of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3762, coordinated by Annie L. Mach. This report will not be updated to reflect the Senate’s actions or subsequent actions taken by the House.

The FY2016 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 11) established the congressional budget for the federal government for FY2016 and set forth budgetary levels for FY2017-FY2025. It also included reconciliation...

The Lobbying Disclosure Act at 20: Analysis and Issues for Congress

On December 19, 1995, President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) into law (2 U.S.C. §1601, et seq.). In his comments when signing the law, President Clinton identified a central question that continues to be an issue for lobbying laws: how can individual citizens’ rights be balanced against the desire to regulate and potentially control the access of special interests to government? As lobbying laws have been developed in the United States, the balance between the right of “ordinary Americans” to petition the government and the access that professional...

Sequestration as a Budget Enforcement Process: Frequently Asked Questions

A sequester provides for the automatic cancellation of previously enacted spending, making largely across-the-board reductions to non-exempt programs, activities, and accounts. Sequestration is currently employed as the enforcement mechanism for three budgetary policies:

It is used to enforce the statutory limits on defense and non-defense discretionary spending as created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25).

It is used to enforce the budgetary goal established for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction established by the BCA. This automatic process was created...

Budget Reconciliation Legislation: Development and Consideration

Budget reconciliation is a two-phase process, provided by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, 2 U.S.C. 601-688), as amended, that Congress may use to assure compliance with the direct spending, revenue, and debt limit levels set forth in a budget resolution agreed to by Congress. First, Congress includes reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution directing one or more committees to recommend changes in statute to achieve the levels of direct spending and revenues and the debt limit agreed to in the budget resolution. Second, the legislative language...

Congressional Action on FY2016 Appropriations Measures

This report provides information on the congressional consideration of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills and the FY2016 continuing resolution (CR). It also discusses the statutory and procedural budget enforcement framework for FY2016 appropriations. It will address the congressional consideration of FY2016 supplemental appropriations if any such consideration occurs.

For all types of appropriations measures, discretionary spending budget enforcement under the congressional budget process has two primary sources. The first is the discretionary spending limits that are derived from...

Congressional Budget Resolutions: Historical Information

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, as amended; 2 U.S.C. 601-688) provides for the annual adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget each year. The congressional budget resolution represents a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year and at least the following four fiscal years. As a concurrent resolution, it is not presented to the President for his signature and thus does not become law. Instead, when adopted by Congress, the budget resolution serves as an agreement between the House and Senate on a congressional budget plan. As such, it provides the...

Rules and Practices Governing Consideration of Revenue Legislation in the House and Senate

The term revenue is defined as funds collected from the public that arise from the government’s exercise of its sovereign or governmental powers. Federal revenues come from a variety of sources, including individual and corporate income taxes, excise taxes, customs duties, estate and gift taxes, fees and fines, payroll taxes for social insurance programs, and miscellaneous receipts (such as earnings of the Federal Reserve System, donations, and bequests). The executive branch often uses the term receipts or governmental receipts in place of the term revenues.

The collection of revenue is...

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10)

On April 16, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10), as passed by the Senate on April 14, 2015, and by the House on March 26, 2015. The act repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for calculating updates to Medicare payment rates to physicians and establishes an alternative set of annual updates. In addition, MACRA introduces a new merit-based incentive payment system and puts in place processes for developing, evaluating, and adopting alternative payment models (APMs).

The act also extends funding that...

Legislative Procedure in Congress: Basic Sources for Congressional Staff

Written for congressional staff, this report identifies and provides details on how to obtain official government sources of information on the legislative process and the rules and procedure of the House and Senate. It provides references to selected CRS products and offers information on the CRS legislative institutes. A listing of selected supplementary materials is also provided.

This report will be updated as new information is available.

Points of Order in the Congressional Budget Process

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Titles I-IX of P.L. 93-344, as amended) created a process that Congress uses each year to establish and enforce the parameters for budgetary legislation. Enforcement of budgetary decisions is accomplished through the use of points of order, and through the reconciliation process. Points of order are prohibitions against certain types of legislation or congressional actions. These prohibitions are enforced when a Member raises a point of order against legislation that may violate these rules when it is considered by the House or Senate.

This report...

The Discharge Rule in the House: Principal Features and Uses

The “discharge rule” of the House of Representatives allows a measure to come to the floor for consideration even if the committee of referral does not report it and the leadership does not schedule it. To initiate this action, a majority of House Members must first sign a petition for that purpose. After a petition has garnered 218 signatures, a motion to discharge may then be offered on the floor—but only after at least seven legislative days and only on a second or fourth Monday of a month.

The rule allows for two main methods of action: (1) The committee of referral may be discharged...

Points of Order Limiting the Contents of Reconciliation Legislation: In Brief

Reconciliation is an optional procedure that operates as an adjunct to the budget resolution process but occurs only if reconciliation instructions are included in the budget resolution. Reconciliation instructions direct the appropriate committees to develop legislation achieving specific budgetary outcomes in order to implement fiscal and budgetary policies agreed to in the budget resolution. Reconciliation is an important procedural tool because the Congressional Budget Act establishes an expedited procedure for consideration of a reconciliation bill. Debate in the Senate on any...

Advance Appropriations, Forward Funding, and Advance Funding: Concepts, Practice, and Budget Process Considerations

Federal programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process in regular appropriations acts may typically obligate those funds during a period that starts at the beginning of that fiscal year. For certain programs, however, the period of availability for some or all of their funds may be delayed until after the start of the fiscal year or even until a future fiscal year. Three types of delayed periods of availability are discussed in this report: “advance appropriations,” “forward funding,” and “advance funding.”

Advance appropriations become available for obligation one or...

Overview of the FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the FY2016 continuing appropriations in H.R. 719. None of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills were enacted by the start of the fiscal year (October 1, 2015). On September 30, 2015, H.R. 719, a continuing resolution (CR) for FY2016, was signed into law by the President (P.L. 114-53).

The CR for FY2016 covers all 12 regular appropriations bills by providing continuing budget authority for projects and activities funded in FY2015 by that fiscal year’s regular appropriations acts, with some exceptions. It includes both budget...

Altering House Ethics Committee Sanction Recommendations on the Floor: Past Precedent and Options for Action

The Constitution provides Congress with the power to punish and discipline its Members. Since the House Committee on Ethics was created during the 90th Congress, it has been authorized to investigate allegations of misconduct against Members and staff, and if necessary, recommend sanctions that are then considered by the whole House. This report examines instances when the House Ethics Committee has recommended a sanction, and amendments or alternatives have been considered on the House floor. Since the committee’s creation, the House has attempted to amend sanction recommendations only a...

The FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

This report discusses a resolution which would provide temporary funding to continue federal government operations through the beginning of the fiscal year, until annual appropriations acts could be enacted.

Queen-of-the-Hill Rules in the House of Representatives

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS20313 Contents Special Rules and the Amending Process 1 King-of-the-Hill: Predecessor to Queen-of-the-Hill 1 Queen-of-the-Hill 2

Tables Table 1. Queen-of-the-Hill Rules 2

Contacts Author Contact Information 2

Summary A special rule is a House resolution intended to regulate floor consideration of a specific legislative measure named in the resolution. When adopted by the House, the requirements prescribed by a special rule can supersede the standing rules of the House (as well as rulemaking provisions in statutes such as the...

Floor Consideration of Conference Reports in the Senate

When a conference committee approves its report, the next step in the legislative process is for the report, along with a joint explanatory statement of the managers, to be presented to the House and Senate for consideration. A conference report must be considered in one chamber at a time when a chamber is in possession of the official conference papers. The papers consist of the conference report as well as the bill and the amendment(s) sent to conference.

Senate Conferees: Their Selection and Authority

Conference committees usually prepare the final versions of the most important bills that Congress approves. Who the conferees are and what decisions they can make, therefore, can have an important effect on the outcome of the legislative process. This report describes the selection and authority of Senate conferees.

The President Pro Tempore of the Senate: History and Authority of the Office

The U.S. Constitution establishes the office of the President pro tempore of the Senate to preside over the Senate in the Vice President’s absence. Since 1947, the President pro tempore has stood third in line to succeed to the presidency after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House.

Although the President pro tempore’s powers are limited and not comparable to those of the Speaker of the House, as the chamber’s presiding officer, he is authorized to perform certain duties. For example, he may decide points of order (subject to appeal) and enforce decorum in the Senate chamber and...

Flow of Business: A Typical Day on the Senate Floor

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-865 Summary Several authorities govern the daily work in the Senate chamber: its standing rules, standing orders, unanimous consent agreements, precedent, and tradition. Because these authorities have different influence at certain times, no Senate session day is truly “typical.” This report discusses procedures that usually occur every session day and notes certain business items that occur less frequently. This report will be revised as events warrant. Contents Legislative and Calendar Days/Morning Hour and Morning Business 1 Items of...

The Amending Process in the Senate

A bill is subject to amendment as soon as the Senate begins to consider it. Committee amendments are considered first; then Senators can offer amendments to any part of the bill, generally, in any order. Senators may debate each amendment without limit unless the Senate (1) agrees to a motion to table (kill) the amendment, (2) agrees to a unanimous consent request to limit debate on the amendment, or (3) invokes cloture, limiting debate on the amendment or on the bill and all amendments to it.

There are several different types of amendments. A first-degree amendment proposes to change the...

How Measures Are Brought to the House Floor: A Brief Introduction

This report presents a brief description of the five parliamentary methods used to bring proposed legislation to the House floor for consideration. These methods allow for consideration as a privileged matter, under the limited privilege of a special calendar or day, under suspension of the rules, under the terms of a special rule, or by unanimous consent. This report will be updated to reflect changes in the rules or practices of the House.

Expedited Procedures in the House: Variations Enacted into Law

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL30599 Summary Congress enacts expedited, or fast-track, procedures into law when it wants to increase the likelihood that one or both houses of Congress will vote in a timely way on a certain measure or kind of measure. These procedures are enacted as rule-making provisions of law pursuant to the constitutional power of each house to adopt its own rules. The house to which a set of expedited procedures applies may act unilaterally to waive, suspend, amend, or repeal them. Sets of expedited procedures, as they affect the House of...

The Amending Process in the House of Representatives

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-995 Summary Most amendments that Representatives propose to legislation on the House floor are offered in the Committee of the Whole. Measures considered under suspension of the rules are not subject to floor amendments, and few amendments are proposed to bills and resolutions considered in the House or in the House as in Committee of the Whole. The House’s procedures recognize distinctions between first- and second-degree amendments, between perfecting and substitute amendments, and among amendments in the forms of motions to strike, to...

Commonly Used Motions and Requests in the House of Representatives

This report identifies the most commonly used motions and requests available to Members during proceedings in the House of Representatives. It does not identify motions and requests used when the House is in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union. (See CRS Report RL32200, Debate, Motions, and Other Actions in the Committee of the Whole, by Bill Heniff Jr. and Elizabeth Rybicki. For a discussion of motions and requests used in committees, see CRS Report RS20308, House Committee Markups: Commonly Used Motions and Requests, by Judy Schneider.)

The report divides the...

Procedures for Congressional Action in Relation to a Nuclear Agreement with Iran: In Brief

An April 2015 framework for negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran suggests that a final agreement that would ease many existing sanctions on Iran might be reached. Amid concerns among some in Congress about the terms of the potential agreement with Iran, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-17). The act establishes a period for Congress to review any comprehensive agreement with Iran, during which certain presidential actions to provide relief from sanctions on Iran are barred. It also provides for...

Across-the-Board Rescissions in Appropriations Acts: Overview and Recent Practices

As the annual appropriations process draws to a close each fiscal year, Congress and the President must often come to an agreement not only on the level of funding for individual items or accounts but also with regard to the total amount of discretionary budget authority that will be provided for that fiscal year. If that agreed-upon amount requires a reduction in budget authority and sufficient reductions are not associated with individual programs, an alternative method to reduce that amount is an “across-the-board rescission.”

A rescission is a provision of law that cancels budget...

History and Authority of the Joint Economic Committee

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41519 Summary The Joint Economic Committee was first established by the Employment Act of 1946 in order to monitor the subjects included in the President’s yearly Economic Report, identify ways to coordinate federal government programs in relation to economic matters, and produce a yearly report in response to the President’s Economic Report. This role was later expanded to include the issuance of a monthly publication on economic indicators and the submission of a report to the House and Senate Budget Committees analyzing the short- and...

Senate Committee Hearings: The “Minority Witness Rule”

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22649 Summary When a Senate committee other than the Appropriations Committee holds a hearing, the minority party members of the panel have the right to call witnesses of their choosing to testify during at least one day of that hearing. Paragraph 4(d) of Senate Rule XXVI—known as the “minority witness rule”—states: Whenever any hearing is conducted by a committee (except the Committee on Appropriations) upon any measure or matter, the minority on the committee shall be entitled, upon request made by a majority of the minority members to...

Procedural Analysis of Private Laws Enacted: 1986-2015

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22450 Summary Between 1986 and 2015 (99th-114th Congresses), 170 private laws were enacted. As of this writing, no private laws have been enacted in the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Most private laws during this period dealt with immigration issues or claims against the government. Of these measures, 65% originated in the House, 9% had cosponsors, and 23% had companion bills. Most were enacted without amendment or need to resolve differences with the other house. This report examines the broad distinctions among these measures in terms of...

Expedited or “Fast-Track” Legislative Procedures

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS20234 Summary Expedited or “fast-track” legislative procedures are special procedures that Congress adopts to promote timely committee and floor action on a specifically defined type of bill or resolution. For example, House and Senate consideration of budget resolutions and reconciliation bills are governed by fast-track procedures. Congress includes fast-track procedures in bills that are enacted into law—for example, the Congressional Budget Act, as amended, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—instead of adopting them as...

Proxy Voting and Polling in Senate Committee

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22952 Summary In an effort to operate efficiently despite the competing scheduling demands placed on its members, all Senate standing committees permit “proxy voting” in some instances, and many of them permit certain questions to be “polled.” Proxy voting is a practice whereby an absent Senator authorizes a second, present Senator to cast a vote in addition to his or her own during a committee markup meeting. When polling, a committee or subcommittee asks its members to approve questions relating to legislation or internal committee...

House Rules and Precedents Affecting Committee Markup Procedures

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 97-1045 Summary Markup procedures in standing committees of the House of Representatives generally conform to guidelines the House follows when it conducts business on the floor under a set of procedures known as consideration by the “House as in Committee of the Whole.” Consideration by the “House as in Committee of the Whole” is not the same as the more common practice of the House “resolving itself into Committee of the Whole House” but is, instead, a more rarely used set of procedures that combines elements of both procedures used in...

Delegates to the U.S. Congress: History and Current Status

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40555 Summary Delegates, representing territories that had not yet achieved statehood, have served in the House since the late 1700s. In the 20th century, the concept of delegate grew to include representation of territories where the United States exercises some degree of control but were not expected to become states. In the 114th Congress, the U.S. insular areas of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and the federal municipality of the District of Columbia are each represented in Congress by a...

Pairing in Congressional Voting: The House

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-970 Summary Under House Rule XX, clause 3, the practice of “pairing” involves—under certain procedural circumstances—a Member who is absent during a vote on the House floor arranging with a Member on the opposite side of a specific question who is present during a vote to announce that the Member who is present is forming a “pair” with the absent Member, thus allowing the absent Member to have recorded how he would have voted had he been present. Contents Contacts Author Contact Information 2

Under House Rule XX, clause 3, the practice...

House Committee Hearings: Arranging Witnesses

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-304 Summary Selecting witnesses is often one of the most important tasks in planning a hearing. House committees and subcommittees pay careful attention to which viewpoints will be represented, who should testify, and the order and format for presenting witnesses. Witnesses do not have an inherent right to appear at a hearing but must be invited by a committee or subcommittee in order to testify; committees and subcommittees may also subpoena reluctant witnesses to appear at a hearing. Contents Selecting and Inviting Witnesses 1 Subpoena...

House Committee Hearings: Scheduling and Notification

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-339 Summary Each House committee has the authority to hold hearings whether the House is in session, has recessed, or has adjourned (Rule XI, clause 2(m)(1)(A)). Regardless of the type of hearing, or whether a hearing is held in or outside of Washington, hearings share common aspects of planning and preparation. Contents Whether to Schedule a Hearing 1 Scheduling Requirements and Practices 1 Notification Requirements and Practices 1

Contacts Author Contact Information 2 Acknowledgments 2

Each House committee has the authority to hold...

Quorum Requirements in the House: Committee and Chamber

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-870 Summary House Rule XI, clause 2 establishes minimum quorum requirements for eight areas of committee activity. Table 1 summarizes these requirements as found in Wm. Holmes Brown, Charles W. Johnson, and John V. Sullivan’s House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents, and Procedures of the House (Washington: GPO, 2011). Contents Quorum Requirements in Committee 2 Quorums in the House 1

Tables Table 1. Minimum Quorum Requirements 1

Contacts Author Contact Information 2

Quorum Requirements in Committee House Rule XI, clause 2...

House Committee Hearings: Preparation

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-488 Contents Preliminary Decisions 1 Witness Selection 1 Media Concerns 2 Final Preparations 2

Contacts Author Contact Information 2

Summary Committee hearings provide Representatives an opportunity to gather information on, and draw attention to, legislation and issues within a committee’s purview; conduct oversight of programs or agencies; and investigate allegations of mismanagement or wrongdoing. This checklist identifies many of the tasks that need to be performed, primarily by staff, for full committees and (in most cases)...

Amendments in the Senate: Types and Forms

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-614 Contents Distinctions Among Amendments 1 Degrees of Amendments 1 Forms of Amendments 1 Scope of Amendments 2

Contacts Author Contact Information 2

Summary The amending process is central to the consideration of legislation by the Senate, and the rules, practices, and precedents that underlie this process frequently depend on distinguishing among amendments based on their type and form. The way in which an amendment is crafted, and the circumstances in which it is offered, can have an impact on its consideration. When an amendment...

Amendments in the House: Types and Forms

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-613 Summary The amending process is central to the consideration of legislation by the House of Representatives, and the rules, practices, and precedents that underlie this process frequently depend on distinguishing among amendments based on their type and form. Simply put, not all amendments are equal in a procedural sense, and the form or type of amendment frequently determines what further amendments may be offered and, therefore, what alternatives the House may choose among. Contents Distinctions Among Amendments 1 Degrees of...

Automatic Continuing Resolutions: Background and Overview of Recent Proposals

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41948 Summary Currently, 12 regular appropriations acts fund the activities of most federal government agencies. When these acts are not completed prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, Congress uses a continuing appropriations act, also known as a “continuing resolution” (CR), to provide interim funding until the annual appropriations process is complete. Some Members of Congress have proposed legislation to establish an automatic continuing resolution (ACR) mechanism that would ensure a source of funding for discretionary spending...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44139 Summary Congress is currently in a period of formal review, being conducted on the basis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1”) on July 14. The period for initial congressional review under the Act is to conclude on September 17. The agreement has raised a wide variety of questions in Congress. Issues include the specific terms of the deal; the implications for inspections, proliferation,...

Filling the Amendment Tree in the Senate

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22854 Summary “Amendment trees” are charts that illustrate certain principles of precedence that guide the Senate amendment process. When all of the amendments permitted simultaneously by these principles have been offered and are pending, an amendment tree is said to be “filled,” and no additional amendments may be offered until one or more of those pending is disposed of or laid aside. Given that the presiding officer traditionally affords the Senate majority leader or his designee priority over all others in being recognized, a...

House Committee Hearings: The “Minority Witness Rule”

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS22637 Summary House Rule XI gives the minority party members of committees the right to have witnesses of their choosing called to testify on at least one day of any hearing scheduled by the majority. The rule has primarily served as an incentive to the majority party to see that the minority viewpoint is represented at hearings. Although the minority has a right to have witnesses testify on one hearing day, the committee majority maintains control over the scheduling, scope, and duration of that testimony. Contents Origin of the Minority...

House Committee Hearings: Witness Testimony

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-338 Summary Witnesses before House committees must generally file advance copies of their written testimony with the committees and then limit their oral testimony to brief summaries (Rule XI, clause 2(g)(5)). A question-and-answer period usually follows a witness’s opening statement. Following hearings, committees usually publish the transcripts of witness testimony and questioning. Contents Advance Written Testimony 1 Oral Testimony 1 Questioning Witnesses 1 Printing Hearings 2

Contacts Author Contact...

Appropriations Report Language: Overview of Development, Components, and Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44124 Summary In general, congressional reports may accompany appropriations measures as part of either the committee stage or the resolving differences stage of the legislative process. Although this language is not considered binding in the same manner as language in the statute, the congressional understanding of an appropriations measure is closely related to its development. There are appropriations-specific components and practices related to report language that have been developed by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees...

Filling the Senate "Amendment Tree"

This report discusses the filing process of "Amendment trees": diagrams that have developed over decades of Senate practice as a way of visualizing certain principles of precedence that govern the offering of, and voting on, amendments in the chamber.

District of Columbia: Issues in the 114th Congress

In the coming weeks and months the 114th Congress will debate a number of funding, governance, and constitutional issues affecting the District of Columbia, including budget and legislative autonomy, voting representation in the national legislature, federal appropriations, and congressionally supported education initiatives. In addition, Congress may consider measures intended to void or otherwise modify acts and initiatives approved by District citizens and their elected representatives. The mechanisms available to Congress in carrying out its oversight of District affairs include...

Appointment and Confirmation of Executive Branch Leadership: An Overview

The Constitution divides the responsibility for populating the top positions in the executive branch of the federal government between the President and the Senate. Article II, Section 2 empowers the President to nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the principal officers of the United States, as well as some subordinate officers.

These positions are generally filled through the advice and consent process, which can be divided into three stages:

First, the White House selects and clears a prospective appointee before sending a formal nomination to the...

Conference Reports and Joint Explanatory Statements

When a conference committee completes its work successfully, the committee presents and explains its agreements in two documents: first, a conference report; and second, a joint explanatory statement, often called a statement of managers.

The conference report presents the formal legislative language on which the conference committee has agreed. The joint explanatory statement explains the various elements of the conferees’ agreement in relation to the positions that the House and Senate had committed to the conference committee.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Functions and Funding

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), performs multiple functions including the adjudication of immigration and naturalization petitions, consideration of refugee and asylum claims and related humanitarian and international concerns, and a range of immigration-related services, such as issuing employment authorizations and processing nonimmigrant change-of-status petitions. Processing immigrant petitions remains USCIS’s leading function. In FY2014, it handled roughly 6 million petitions for immigration-related...

Biennial Budgeting: Options, Issues, and Previous Congressional Action

Difficulties in the timely enactment of budgetary legislation have long fueled interest in ways to structure the congressional budget process to ease time constraints. One long-discussed reform proposal would attempt to remedy this by changing the budget cycle from one to two years.

Biennial budgeting is a concept that may involve several variations, including two-year budget resolutions, two-year appropriations, and other changes in the timing of legislation related to revenue or spending. Biennial budgeting proposals may focus on enacting budgetary legislation for either a two-year...

Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process

Regulatory analytical requirements (e.g., cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis) have been established incrementally during the last 40 to 50 years through a series of presidential and congressional initiatives. The current set of requirements includes Executive Order 12866 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-4, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). These requirements vary in terms of the agencies and rules they cover, and the types of analyses that are required. For example, a regulatory analysis under the Regulatory...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Independent and Other Agencies During the 111th Congress

This report explains the process for filling positions to which the President makes appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate (also referred to as PAS positions). It also identifies, for the 111th Congress, all nominations to full-time positions requiring Senate confirmation in 41 organizations in the executive branch (28 independent agencies, 6 agencies in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and 7 multilateral organizations) and 4 agencies in the legislative branch. It excludes appointments to executive departments and to regulatory and other boards and commissions,...

Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2012 (74th-112th Congresses)

A “lame duck” session of Congress occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the term of the current Congress ends. Under present conditions, any meeting of Congress after election day in November, but before the following January 3, is a lame duck session. Prior to 1933, when the Twentieth Amendment changed the dates of the congressional term, the last regular session of Congress was always a lame duck session. Today, however, the expression is used not only for a separate session of Congress that convenes after a sine die adjournment, but also for any...

Introducing a House Bill or Resolution

Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution

This report provides an overview of the most common considerations that may be taken into account when preparing the initial draft for a Senate bill or resolution.

The European Parliament

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RS21998 Summary Between May 22 and May 25, 2014, the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) will hold elections for the next European Parliament (EP). The Parliament is a key EU institution that represents the citizens of the EU. It works closely with the two other main EU bodies, the European Commission (the EU’s executive) and the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers, in which the national governments of the EU’s 28 member states are represented). Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) serve...

Select Committee on Benghazi: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to the Select Committee on Benghazi (H.Res. 567). In addition to the policy expertise identified below, related CRS products include CRS Insight IN10055, House Select Committee Precedents and Procedures and H. Res. 567, Establishing a Select Committee on the 2012 Benghazi Attack, by Christopher M. Davis; CRS Insight IN10022, Diplomatic Security After Benghazi, by Alex Tiersky; CRS Report R43195, Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch...

The President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress

Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) through the National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-282). The act states that “The primary function of the OSTP Director is to provide, within the Executive Office of the President [EOP], advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of issues that require attention at the highest level of Government.” Further, “The Office shall serve as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies,...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

Neither the House nor the Senate passed a regular appropriations bill for FY2013 for Interior, Environment, and...

S. 1392, Shaheen-Portman Bill: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

S. 1392—the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013—was introduced on July 30, 2013. Often referred to as the Shaheen-Portman bill, it is a trimmed-down version of S. 761. It contains provisions for building energy codes, industrial energy efficiency, federal agencies, and budget offsets. The bill contains voluntary provisions and was designed to be deficit-neutral. To date, virtually all debate related to the bill has been focused on floor amendments.

The bill was reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) on a 19-3 vote. On August 1, 2013, a...

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Appropriations Process: FAQs Regarding Potential Legislative Changes and Effects of a Government Shutdown

Congress has yet to complete legislative action on any of the 12 regular appropriations bills to fund the routine operations of federal agencies for FY2014, which began on October 1, 2013. Moreover, lawmakers have been unable to agree on a continuing appropriations bill, or continuing resolution (CR), to provide funding for part or all of the new fiscal year. As a result, the federal government has begun a shutdown of programs that lack budget authority to continue operations in FY2014, except in certain circumstances.

Congress is deeply divided over implementation of the Patient...

Ordering a Roll Call Vote in the Senate

Any time the Senate is considering a question—whether that question is a bill, amendment, motion, conference report, or something else—a Senator who has the floor can “ask for the yeas and nays” or a roll call vote on that question. This is the constitutional right of any Senator, and no other lawmaker can object to the request. If such a request is supported by 10 other Senators (for a total of 11) this usually requires the Senate to conduct a roll call vote (also called a vote by “the yeas and nays”) to decide the question it is considering. The Senate can agree to order a roll call vote...

Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions on Regulatory and Other Collegial Boards and Commissions, 111th Congress

The President makes appointments, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to some 148 full-time leadership positions on 33 federal regulatory and other collegial boards and commissions. This appointment process consists of three distinct stages: selection, clearance, and nomination by the President; consideration by the Senate; and appointment by the President. These advice and consent positions can also temporarily be filled by the President alone through a recess appointment. Membership positions on this set of collegial bodies often have fixed terms, and incumbents are often...

Voting and Quorum Procedures in the Senate

The Constitution states that “a Majority of each [House] shall constitute a quorum to do business.... ” The Senate presumes that it is complying with this requirement and that a quorum always is present unless and until the absence of a quorum is suggested or demonstrated. This presumption allows the Senate to conduct its business on the floor with fewer than 51 Senators present until a Senator “suggests the absence of a quorum.”

Except when the Senate has invoked cloture, the presiding officer may not count to determine if a quorum is present. When the absence of a quorum is suggested,...

Budget “Sequestration” and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules

“Sequestration” is a process of automatic, largely across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently canceled to enforce certain budget policy goals. It was first authorized by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA, Title II of P.L. 99-177, commonly known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).

Sequestration is of current interest because it has been triggered as an enforcement tool under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). Sequestration can also occur under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (Statutory...

Naming Post Offices Through Legislation

Legislation naming post offices for persons has become a very common practice. During the 108th through 112th Congresses, almost 20% of all statutes enacted were post office naming acts.

This report describes how the practice of naming post offices through public law originated and how it is commonly done today. It also details the House and Senate committee policies for considering such legislation and the U.S. Postal Service’s procedures for implementing post office naming acts.

Unanimity of a state’s congressional delegation is required for the movement of naming bills to the floor of...

Changes to Senate Procedures at the Start of the 113th Congress Affecting the Operation of Cloture (S.Res. 15 and S.Res. 16)

On January 25, 2013, the Senate approved two resolutions affecting the process for considering legislation and nominations. S.Res. 15 established two standing orders of the Senate that will apply only in the 113th Congress; S.Res. 16 made two changes to the standing rules of the Senate.

Section 1 of S.Res. 15 creates a special motion to proceed that could be approved by majority vote after four hours of debate. (Most motions to proceed are not subject to any limit on debate, and therefore a cloture process and three-fifths support may be required to reach a vote.) A bill brought before...

Support Offices in the House of Representatives: Roles and Authorities

Article I of the Constitution, in Sections 2 and 3, authorizes the House of Representatives and Senate to choose their own officers. The number of such congressional support personnel, as well as their specific responsibilities, is left to the discretion of the chambers. Over time, both chambers have authorized a number of offices that assist them, collectively or individually, in their work.

In the House, these offices include the Clerk of the House, Chief Administrative Officer, Sergeant at Arms, Office of the Legislative Counsel, Office of the Parliamentarian, Office of the Law...

Procedures for Considering Changes in Senate Rules

This report discusses procedures and related issues involved in considering changes to Senate rules. The Constitution empowers each house of Congress to determine its own rules. The Senate normally considers changes to its Standing Rules in the form of a simple resolution, which (like any ordinary measure) can be adopted by a majority of Senators voting, a quorum being present (“simple majority”). Like most measures, however, such a resolution is debatable. Senate rules place no general limits on how long consideration of a measure may last, and allow such limits to be imposed only by a...

Proposals to Change the Operation of Cloture in the Senate

Paragraph 2 of Senate Rule XXII, also known as the “cloture rule,” was adopted in 1917. It established a procedure, amended several times over the intervening years, by which the Senate may limit debate and act on a pending measure or matter. Aside from unanimous consent agreements and statutory limits applying to certain types of legislation, cloture is the only mechanism by which the Senate can limit debate.

In recent years, some Senators have expressed renewed concerns over the way in which extended debate is conducted in the Senate and the operation of the cloture rule. Proposals for...

Presidential Reorganization Authority: History, Recent Initiatives, and Options for Congress

On January 13, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that he would ask Congress to reinstate so-called presidential reorganization authority, and his Administration conveyed a legislative proposal that would renew this authority to Congress on February 16, 2012. Bills based on the proposed language were subsequently introduced in the Senate (S. 2129) and the House (H.R. 4409) during the 112th Congress.

Should this authority be granted, the President indicated that his first submitted plan would propose consolidation of six business and trade-related agencies into one: U.S. Department of...

The Executive Budget Process Timetable

The executive budget process is a complex set of activities that includes (1) development of the President’s budget proposal, (2) submission and justification of the President’s budget proposal, and (3) execution of enacted appropriations and other budgetary legislation. While some of the activities are required by specific dates, many follow a more flexible schedule established by formal and informal rules and procedures.

Under Title 31 of the U.S. Code, the President is responsible for developing and submitting a consolidated budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February...

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov 98-721 Summary Budgeting for the federal government is an enormously complex process. It entails dozens of subprocesses, countless rules and procedures, the efforts of tens of thousands of staff persons in the executive and legislative branches, millions of work hours each year, and the active participation of the President and congressional leaders, as well as other Members of Congress and executive officials. The enforcement of budgetary decisions involves a complex web of procedures that encompasses both congressional and executive...

Motions to Recommit in the House

A motion to recommit is one of the final steps in House consideration of legislation. The rules of the House permit motions to recommit under two different circumstances. First, immediately before the House votes on passing a bill or joint resolution, a Member can move to recommit that measure to a House committee, typically the one that had considered and reported it. Second, before the House votes to accept or reject a conference report, a Member sometimes can move to recommit the report to the conference committee. In each case, the right to make recommittal motions is a prerogative of...

Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues

The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. As is true in many regions in the West, the federal government plays a prominent role in the Klamath Basin’s waters. This role stems primarily from (1) operation and...

Farm Safety Net Proposals in the 112th Congress

In advance of the expiration of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246), numerous proposals have been offered to revise the “farm safety net” for producers of crops covered by farm commodity support programs. Farm safety net proposals by Members of Congress, the Administration, and a number of farm and interest groups surfaced mostly during fall 2011, when budget deliberations by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction generated concerns that a new farm bill might be “written” or severely constrained from a budgetary perspective by budget negotiators, rather than by the House and Senate...

Sufficiency of Signatures on Conference Reports

The House and Senate both require that a conference report be signed by a majority of House conferees and a majority of Senate conferees. When some conferees are appointed only for limited purposes, the two chambers have different ways of counting to determine whether the conferees’ report carries sufficient signatures. The Senate asks whether the report is signed by a majority of all the conferees from each house, without regard to whether those conferees were appointed for all or for limited purposes. The House asks whether the report is signed by a majority of all the conferees from...

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide funding for numerous activities, for example, national defense, education, and homeland security, as well as general government operations. Congress has developed certain rules and practices for the consideration of appropriations measures, referred to as the congressional appropriations process. This report looks at this process as well as the three types of appropriates measures: regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental appropriations bills.

Senate Committee Rules in the 112th Congress: A Comparison of Key Provisions

Senate Rule XXVI spells out specific requirements for Senate committee procedures. In addition, each Senate committee is required to adopt rules that govern its organization and operation. Those committee rules then elaborate, within Senate rules, how the committee will handle its business. Rules adopted by a committee may “not be inconsistent with the Rules of the Senate” (Senate Rule XXVI, paragraph 2). Committees may add to the basic rules, but they may not add anything that is in conflict with Senate rules.

This report first provides a brief overview of Senate rules as they pertain to...

Continuing Resolutions: Latest Action and Brief Overview of Recent Practices

House Rules Changes Affecting the Congressional Budget Process Made at the Beginning of the 112th Congress

This report discusses the changes to the congressional budget process under H.Res. 5 (an agreement made January 5, 2011), which includes six changes made to the House Standing Rules as well as separate orders also affecting the process.

House and Senate Chaplains: An Overview

Except for a brief period in the 1850s, the House of Representatives and Senate have had elected chaplains since 1789. The chaplains are chosen by each chamber as individuals and not as representatives of any religious body or denominational entity. At the beginning of each Congress, the House chaplain is elected to a two-year term. The Senate chaplain, like other officers of the Senate, does not have to be reelected at the beginning of a new Congress.

The chaplains perform ceremonial, symbolic, and pastoral duties. They also coordinate the “guest chaplains” who are frequently invited by...

The Congressional Research Service and the American Legislative Process

The Library of Congress, as its name suggests, is a library dedicated to serving the United States Congress and its Members. It serves additionally as an unexcelled national library. The Library was located in the Capitol Building with the House of Representatives and the Senate until 1897, and its collections always have been available for use by Congress.

Building upon a concept developed by the New York State Library and then the Wisconsin legislative reference department, Wisconsin’s Senator Robert LaFollette and Representative John M. Nelson led an effort to direct the establishment...

The Role of the Senate in Judicial Impeachment Proceedings: Procedure, Practice, and Data

During the 111th Congress, for the first time in over 30 years, the House of Representatives was confronted with the task of investigating and impeaching not one, but two, federal judges. After the House fulfilled its constitutional responsibility as the chamber with the “sole Power of Impeachment,” the Senate was faced with executing its constitutional responsibility to “try all Impeachments.” One of these judges, Samuel B. Kent of the Southern District of Texas, resigned before the Senate could complete his trial. The second, Judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr., of the Eastern District of...

Advance Appropriations, Forward Funding, and Advance Funding

pppropriations acts generally make budget authority (or BA) available for use (or obligation) at the start of the fiscal year covered by the act. Sometimes appropriations bills provide a different date for specified budget authority within the act to become first available so that the funding cycle does not coincide with the fiscal year

generally covered by the act. There are three types of this kind of budget authority: advance appropriations, forward funding, and advance funding.

House Legislative Procedures and House Committee Organization: Options for Change in the 112th Congress

Members and leaders of both parties have questioned whether legislative practices, while consistent with House rules, have gotten out of balance, with too much deliberation sacrificed to efficiency or electioneering. They have made speeches, introduced resolutions, and, when in the minority, issued critiques of the House’s legislative management. Practices targeted have included waivers of layover rules, use of structured and closed special rules, and waivers of committee assignment limitations. The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an analysis of House legislative rules...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

Hearings in the U.S. Senate: A Guide for Preparation and Procedure

Congressional hearings are the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyze information during the legislative policymaking process. Whether confirmation hearings—a procedure unique to the Senate—legislative, oversight, investigative, or a combination of these, all hearings share common elements of preparation and conduct.

Senate Rule XXVI sets forth many of the hearing regulations to which committees must conform, including the quorum requirement, advance submission of witness statements, the opportunity for minority party Senators to call witnesses of their choosing,...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2010 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On May 7, 2009, the Obama Administration delivered its FY2010 budget request to...

Proposals for a Commission to Address the Federal Government’s Long-Term Fiscal Situation

In the 111th Congress, Members have introduced several proposals to establish a commission that would make potentially far-reaching recommendations on how to address the federal government’s long-term fiscal situation. Generally speaking, the measures would include Members of Congress as some or most of a commission’s membership, provide for a majority of commission members to be appointed by congressional leaders, have varying degrees of partisan balance in membership, and require supermajority votes of commission members to approve recommendations. Each of the bills also would provide...

Medicare Program Changes in H.R. 3962, Affordable Health Care for America Act

Containing scores of provisions affecting Medicare payments, payment rules, and covered benefits, H.R. 3962, as passed by the House on November 7, 2009, treats the Medicare program as both a funding source for health insurance reform and a tool to shape future changes in the way that health services are paid for and delivered. Estimates from CBO on the bill indicate that, absent interaction effects, net reductions in Medicare direct spending may approach $128.1 billion from 2010 to 2014 and $460.8 billion from 2010 to 2019. Major savings are expected from constraining Medicare’s annual...

Consideration of Budgetary Legislation During Presidential Transition Years: A Brief Overview

When a presidential transition occurs, the incoming President usually submits the budget for the upcoming fiscal year (under current practices) or revises the budget submitted by his predecessor (under past practices). Under either circumstance, the details of the President’s budgetary proposals typically are provided to Congress about two months later than would be the case in a non-transition year. Consequently, concerns arise over the potential impact of delayed budget submission on the timetable for budgetary actions taken by the House and Senate.

This report examines the timing of...

Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer

Scientific and technical knowledge and guidance influences not just policy related to science and technology, but also many of today’s public policies as policymakers seek knowledge to enhance the quality of their decisions. Science and technology policy is concerned with the allocation of resources for and encouragement of scientific and engineering research and development, the use of scientific and technical knowledge to enhance the nation’s response to societal challenges, and the education of Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Science and engineering...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2009 Appropriations

The Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 26 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing...

Authority of the Senate Over Seating Its Own Members: Exclusion of a Senator-Elect or Senator-Designate

This report is intended to provide a brief legal analysis of the authority of the Senate over the seating of its own Members, and the Senate’s power to exclude, that is, to refuse by majority vote to seat a Senator-elect or Senator-designate who presents valid credentials from state officials. Under Article I, Section 5, clause 1 of the Constitution, each house of Congress is granted the express authority to judge the “elections,” the “returns,” and the “qualifications” of its own Members. This explicit delegation in the Constitution grants the Senate broad authority to judge and to make...

House Rules Changes in the 111th Congress Affecting Floor Proceedings

On the first day of the 111th Congress, the House agreed to H.Res. 5, which made several changes to House rules affecting floor proceedings. First, the House amended clause 6 of Rule XV to require that Calendar Wednesday only occur at the request of a committee. Calendar Wednesday is a rarely-utilized procedure that allows reported legislation, not otherwise privileged for floor consideration, to be called up by the committee of jurisdiction on Wednesdays. Prior to this rules change, unanimous consent was routinely granted to waive the Calendar Wednesday procedure.

The House also added a...

Consumer Product Safety Commission: CPSIA Implementation

Authority of State Legislatures to Accept Funds Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5)

This report analyzes the language contained in §1607 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act or ARRA; P.L. 111-5), which provides that federal funds can be made available to a state by the federal government either after certification by a governor that such money will be requested and spent or after the adoption of a concurrent resolution by a state legislature. Although the language of § 1607 is arguably ambiguous, it does not appear likely that it would have the effect of significantly reallocating power between a state legislature and a state executive...

The Department of Defense Role in Foreign Assistance: Background, Major Issues, and Options for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) has long played a role in U.S. efforts to assist foreign populations, militaries, and governments. The use of DOD to provide foreign assistance stems in general from the perception that DOD can contribute unique or vital capabilities and resources because it possesses the manpower, materiel, and organizational assets to respond to international needs. Over the years, Congress has helped shape the DOD role by providing DOD with its mandate for such activities through a wide variety of authorities.

The historical DOD role in foreign assistance can be regarded...

Resolving Legislative Differences in Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses

This report summarizes the procedures the two houses of Congress use most frequently to resolve their legislative differences. It is based upon an interpretation of the rules and published precedents of the House and Senate, and an analysis of the application of these rules and precedents in recent practice. It bears emphasizing that

this report is not exhaustive nor is it in any way an official statement of House or Senate procedures. It may serve as a useful introduction or general guide, but it should not be considered an adequate substitute for a study of House and Senate rules and...

"Fast Track" Parliamentary Procedures of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Division A of H.R. 1424, P.L. 110-343) empowers the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase certain "troubled assets" as a means to stabilize the economy. This report examines this procedure and explains how it

differs from the regular parliamentary mechanisms of the House and Senate.

Overview of the Executive Budget Process

The Role of Departments and Agencies in Budget Development

Federal departments and agencies play an integral role in the development of the President’s budget. The President is required to prepare and submit a comprehensive federal budget to Congress each year. Due to the size and complexity of the federal budget, however, the President relies on departments and agencies to bear the primary responsibility for formulating their budget requests. For more information on the budget process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes at http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml.

The Role of the Office of Management and Budget in Budget Development

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assists the President in carrying out his budgetary duties. Originally created by the 1921 Budget and Accounting Act as the Bureau of the Budget, it was reconstituted as OMB in 1970. Its primary function is to oversee the development and implementation of the federal budget. For more information on the budget process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes at http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml.

The Role of the President in Budget Development

The President is required to annually prepare and submit a comprehensive federal budget to Congress for the fiscal year that begins on October 1 (31 U.S.C. 1105). The President sets out his national priorities and proposes policy initiatives in the federal budget submitted to Congress soon after Congress convenes in January. The President’s budget submission provides him the opportunity to influence the agenda for the upcoming budget and policy debate in Congress. For more information on the budget process, see the CRS Guides to Congressional Processes at...

Agency Justification of the President’s Budget

While the President is required to submit annually a comprehensive federal budget to Congress, each federal agency bears the primary responsibility for justifying its budget request to gain approval from Congress. Several key activities are involved. These include the preparation of supporting materials for the President’s budget transmittal, formal testimony, and the submission of more detailed written justifications to the appropriations subcommittee of jurisdiction. This fact sheet focuses on the justification of requests for spending provided through the annual appropriations process...

Parliamentary Reference Sources: Senate

The Senate’s procedures are determined not only by its standing rules, but also by its standing orders, published precedents, committee rules, and informal practices. Constitutional mandates and rule-making statutes also impose procedural requirements on the Senate, and rules of Senate party conferences can sometimes affect committee and floor action. Parliamentary reference sources set forth the text of these authorities or provide information about how and when they govern different parliamentary situations. This report discusses the coverage, format, and availability of three types of...

Parliamentary Reference Sources: House of Representatives

House procedures are based not solely on the code of Rules the chamber adopts at the start of each Congress, but also on constitutional mandates, published precedents reflecting authoritative rulings and interpretations of the foregoing authorities, procedural principles set forth in the manual of practice prepared by Jefferson, “rule-making” statutes, and practices that have developed without being formally adopted.. Rules adopted by committees and by the party conferences also serve as sources of parliamentary practice in the House. This report describes the coverage, format, and...

Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008 Appropriations

FY2008 appropriations for Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) agencies were originally proposed in H.R. 2829. The bill included funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. Among the independent agencies funded by the bill are the General Services Administration (GSA), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the United States Postal Service (USPS).

On June 28, 2007, the House approved $43.8 billion for H.R. 2829, a...

The Rise of Senate Unanimous Consent Agreements

Unanimous consent agreements are fundamental to the operation of the Senate. The institution frequently dispenses with its formal rules and instead follows negotiated agreements submitted on the floor for lawmakers’ unanimous approval. Once entered into, unanimous consent agreements can only be changed by unanimous consent. Their objectives are to waive Senate rules and to expedite floor action on measures or matters. Typically, these accords (sometimes called time-limitation agreements) restrict debate and structure chamber consideration of amendments.

Given their importance to chamber...

Going to Conference in the Senate

Transportation, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Executive Office of the President, and Independent Agencies (TTHUD): FY2007 Appropriations

The Bush Administration requested $138.5 billion (after scorekeeping adjustments) for these agencies for FY2007, an increase of $2.3 billion over the $136.2 billion Congress provided in the agencies’ FY2006 appropriations act (this FY2006 figure reflects a 1.0% across-the-board rescission that was included in the FY2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-148). The total FY2006 funding (after scorekeeping adjustments) for the agencies in this bill was $146.3 billion, due to emergency supplemental funding provided to deal with the effects of the Gulf Coast hurricanes of...

Securities Arbitration: Background and Questions of Fairness

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2007 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2007 appropriations bill. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress.

On September 29, 2006, Congress passed the Defense Department Appropriation...

H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 1 (Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007) and S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (January 9, 2007) and Senate (March 13, 2007) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process and as the analyses began. Titles unique to S. 4 follow...

District of Columbia School Reform Proposals: Congress’s Possible Role in the Legislative Process

On January 5, 2007, the newly elected mayor of the District of Columbia, Adrian Fenty, released his legislative proposal to transfer administrative and budgetary control of the District’s public schools from the Board of Education to the Office of the Mayor. Under the proposed Education Reform Act, the city council would reorganize the city’s authority over the schools, while calling on Congress to amend provisions of the Home Rule Act relating to the District of Columbia School Board structure and to restrictions on the school budget authority. To the extent that Congress sought to...

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status

This report provides a review of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the status of their implementation at the end of the 109th Congress. The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission’s final report. The analysis was produced by a large team of CRS Specialists, analysts, and attorneys who are responsible for the wide variety of policy areas covered by the 9/11 Commission in its work. The authors of the varied segments of this...

Executive Lobbying: Statutory Controls

Credit Rating Agency Regulatory Reform: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 2990 and S. 3850

This report provides a side-by-side comparison of the H.R. 2990 and S. 3850 bills’ major provisions.

Biennial Budgeting: Issues and Options

DOE Budget Earmarks: A Selective Look at Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D Programs

Appropriations earmarks for the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs have tripled from FY2003 to FY2006. According to the Executive Office of the President and the private American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), this affects the conduct of programs and may delay the achievement of goals. Further, the Administration has proposed new funding for hydrogen, biomass/biorefinery, and solar energy initiatives proposed under the American Competitiveness Initiative/Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI). The report discusses the...

Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies (House)/Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (Senate): FY2006 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 109th Congress for the House’s Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies (SSJC) and the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) FY2006 appropriations legislation. Appropriations bills reflect the jurisdiction of the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in which they are considered. Jurisdictions for the subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees changed at the beginning of the 109th Congress. In the 108th Congress, both the House and Senate subcommittees had...

Trade-Through Rule Reform: The SEC’s Depth of Book Alternative

Stock Options: The Accounting Issue and Its Consequences

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a long-anticipated rule that stock options must be recognized as an expense on corporation income statements. The previous accounting rule permitted but did not require recognition; corporations that elected to omit the cost of options, as most did, have been able to report higher earnings. This report examines the debate surrounding the issue and discusses the potential consequences.

Minority Rights and Senate Procedures

The rules of the Senate emphasize the rights and prerogatives of individual Senators and, therefore, minority groups of Senators. The most important of these rules allows unlimited debate on a bill or amendment unless an extraordinary majority votes to invoke cloture. Senators can use their right to filibuster, and simply the threat of a filibuster, to delay or prevent the Senate from even considering a bill they oppose. The Senate’s rules also are a source of other minority rights, including the right to propose non-germane amendments to most bills and to prevent bills from being referred...

Continuity of Congress: Enacted and Proposed Federal Statutes for Expedited Election to the House in Extraordinary Circumstances

This report is one of several CRS products related to congressional continuity and contingency planning.

Floor Procedure in the House of Representatives: A Brief Overview

The House considers bills and resolutions on the floor under several different sets of procedures governing the time for debate and the opportunities for amendment. Some procedures allow 40 or 60 minutes for debate; others permit debate to continue until a majority of Members vote to end it. Some procedures prohibit most or all floor amendments; others allow Members to offer any amendments that meet the requirements

of the House’s rules and precedents. Notwithstanding these differences, the rules, precedents, and practices of the House generally are designed to permit the majority to work...

Floor Procedure in the House of Representatives: A Brief Overview

Invoking Cloture in the Senate

This report discuses cloture, which is is the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to set an end to a debate without also rejecting the bill, amendment, conference report, motion, or other matter it has been debating. A Senator can make a nondebatable motion to table an amendment, and if a majority of the Senate votes for that motion, the effect is to reject the amendment. Thus, the motion to table cannot be used to conclude a debate when Senators still wish to speak and to enable the Senate to vote for the proposal it is considering. Only the cloture provisions of Rule XXII...

Federal Regulatory Reform: An Overview

Suspension of the Rules in the House of Representatives

Suspension of the rules is a procedure the House of Representatives uses frequently to debate and pass measures on the floor. After a Representative moves to suspend the rules and pass a particular measure, there can be 40 minutes of debate on the motion and the measure. No floor amendments to the measure are in order. However, the Member who offers the suspension motion may include amendments to the measure as part of the motion. In this case, the Member moves to suspend the rules and pass the bill or resolution as amended. At the end of the debate, the House casts a single vote on...

Tracking Current Federal Legislation and Regulations: A Guide to Basic Sources

This report introduces selected basic sources that are useful in obtaining background information or specific facts on the status of federal legislative or regulatory initiatives. It includes telephone, online, and media sources are included, as well as pertinent directories, such as those of organizations that track areas of interest. Annotations describing each source's contents and organization are included so that researchers can select those that most closely fit their needs. Internet addresses usually provide information about the items, rather than access to them.

Appropriations for FY2005: Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies

This report monitors actions taken by the 108th Congress on FY2005 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the judiciary and related agencies (often referred to as the CJS appropriations). The Administration requested $43.216 billion for CJS appropriations in its FY2005 budget request sent to Congress on February 2, 2004. In the spring of 2004, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees held hearings on these requests. The House Appropriations Committee reported out its unnumbered bill on June 23, 2004, recommending a total of $43.483 billion for CJS in...

Calendars of the House of Representatives

In the House of Representatives, the term “calendar” has two related meanings. This fact sheet, one of a series of fact sheets on legislative process, explains calendars and their use in the House of Representatives.

Suspension of Rules in the House: Measure Sponsorship by Party

From the 100th through the 105th Congresses (1987-1998), the House of Representatives acted on measures through a motion to suspend the rules an average of 549 times per Congress. Measures so acted on were sponsored by Members of the minority party, on average, 17.3% of the time (15.9% if sponsors of House measures only are counted). Figures for the 106th through the 108th Congresses, are significantly above these averages.

The Senate's Executive Calendar

The Senate's Calendar of Business

This report provides a summary of the contents of the Senate's Calendar of Business, which lists bills, resolutions, and other items of legislative business that are eligible for floor consideration.

"Dear Colleague" Letters: A Brief Overview

“Dear Colleague” letters are official correspondence distributed in bulk to Members in both chambers. Primarily, they are used by one or more Members to persuade others to cosponsor or oppose a bill (generally, prior to introduction). Dear Colleague letters might also inform Members of an event connected with congressional business, of new or modified House procedures, or of some other matter. The use of the phrase “‘Dear Colleague’ letter” to refer to a widely distributed letter among Members dates at least to the start of the 20th century. New technologies and expanded use of the...

Presidential Rescission Authority: Efforts to Modify the 1974 Framework

The Impoundment Control Act (ICA) constituted Title X of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344, 99 Stat. 297). The ICA designated two categories of impoundments: deferrals, or temporary delays in funding availability, and rescissions, or permanent cancellations of budget authority. The act stipulated different procedures for congressional review and control of the two types of impoundment actions. In the case of a rescission, the ICA provided that the funds must be made available for obligation unless both houses of Congress took action to approve the...

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction

This report describes the annual appropriations cycle from the President’s submission of his annual budget through enactment of the appropriations measures. It describes the three types of appropriations measures—regular appropriations bills, continuing resolutions, and supplemental bills. It explains the spending ceilings for appropriations bills that are associated with the budget resolution and the sequestration process, including a description of the mechanisms used to enforce the ceilings. It also explains the authorization appropriations process, which prohibits certain provisions in...

H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (October 8, 2004) and Senate (October 6, 2004) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill, because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process to date. For purposes of clarity, we refer to the House-passed bill as...

Congressional Member Office Operations

The House's Corrections Calendar

This report discusses the establishment of the "Corrections Day," a concept credited to Michigan Governor John Englerwhich, which is a procedure for repealing "the dumbest things the federal government is currently doing."

Appropriations for FY2004: Military Construction

The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill provides funding for (1) military construction projects in the United States and overseas; (2) military family housing operations and construction; (3) U.S. contributions to the NATO Security Investment Program; and (4) the bulk of base realignment and closure (BRAC)costs.

The President forwarded his fiscal year 2004 budget request to the Congress on February 3, 2003. The original military construction request of $9.0 billion was later increased to $9.2 billion due to reprogramming from the defense appropriations bill ( H.R. 2658 )...

“Fast-Track” or Expedited Procedures: Their Purposes, Elements, and Implications

“Fast-track” or expedited procedures are special legislative procedures that apply to one or both houses of Congress and that expedite, or put on a fast track, congressional consideration of a certain measure or a narrowly defined class of measures.

Congress typically has enacted sets of expedited procedures into law when (1) the same law imposes a deadline for congressional action on a measure in one or both houses, and (2) Congress wants to ensure, or at least increase the likelihood, that the House and Senate have an opportunity to vote on the measure before the deadline is reached....

Suspension of Rules in the House: Measure Sponsorship by Party

The Discharge Rule in the House: Recent Use in Historical Context

The discharge rule of the House of Representatives affords a way for Members to bring to the floor a measure not reported from committee. Before a motion to discharge may be made, 218 Members must sign a petition for that purpose. This report provides summary data on discharge petitions filed since adoption of the present form of discharge rule in 1931. It also identifies the 32 occasions since 1967 on which a committee report or floor action occurred on a measure against which a petition was filed (or an alternative measure on the same subject).

Senate Consideration of Treaties

The Amending Process in the Senate

This report summarizes many of the rules, precedents, and practices of the Senate affecting the consideration of amendments to measures on the floor. Much of the information presented here has been extracted from Riddick’s Senate Procedure (Senate Document 101-28) the published collection of Senate precedents.

Conference Reports and Joint Explanatory Statements

The conference report presents the formal legislative language on which the conference committee has agreed. The joint explanatory statement explains the various elements of the conferees’ agreement in relation to the positions that the House and Senate had committed to the conference committee.

Special Rules in the House of Representatives

This document also available in PDF Image . The House Rules Committee enables the House to debate and vote on major legislation that is not privileged for floor consideration and that cannot pass by unanimous consent or under suspension of the rules. The Committee reports resolutions, known as rules or special rules, to make individual bills in order for floor action and to affect the procedures for debating, amending, and voting on the bills, usually in Committee of the Whole. Open rules do not restrict the germane floor amendments that Members can propose. Closed rules generally...

Appropriations for FY2003: Military Construction

The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill provides funding for (1) military construction projects in the United States and overseas; (2) military family housing operations and construction; (3) U.S. contributions to the NATO Security Investment Program; and (4) the bulk of base realignment and closure (BRAC)costs. On February 4, 2002, the Administration submitted a $379 billion FY2003 defense budget request. Of this, $9.0 billion was designated for accounts falling within the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees' subcommittees on military construction. This request...

Enron and Stock Analyst Objectivity

Stock analysts provide research on companies and make recommendations on their stocks. When analysts are employed by brokerage firms and provide information for the firms’ retail and institutional clients, they are called sell-side analysts. Analysts who work specifically for institutional investors like mutual and pension funds are known as buy-side analysts. Because of their widespread presence

in the national media, sell-side analysts’ recommendations have become part of the public domain and they can have significant influence on stock prices. This report examines the performance of...

A Primer on E-Government: Sectors, Stages, Opportunities, and Challenges of Online Governance

Electronic government (e-government) intersects many legislative issues, including privacy, digital divide (the lack of equal access to computers, whether due to a lack of financial resources or necessary skills), public access to government information, service delivery, and information security. E-government solutions are prominently represented in efforts to improve the management and efficiency of government information technology resources. To help policymakers discern e-government initiatives relative to their role in various issues, this report identifies and defines the principal...

Cloture Attempts on Nominations

Cloture is the only means by which the Senate can vote to limit debate on a matter, and thereby overcome a possible filibuster. Until 1949, cloture could not be invoked on nominations, and before 1980 this action was attempted only twice. From 1949 through 2002, cloture was sought on 35 nominations, and invoked on 21. Only three of the 35 nominees were not confirmed; all three were among those on whom the Senate rejected cloture. Except in the 103rd Congress (1993-1994), most of the nominations involved have been judicial. The 103rd and 107th Congress are the only ones in which cloture was...

The Economic Effects of 9/11: A Retrospective Assessment

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was so sudden and devastating that it may be difficult at this point in time to write dispassionately and objectively about its effects on the U.S. economy. This retrospective review will attempt such an undertaking. The loss of lives and property was not large enough to have had a measurable effect on the productive capacity of the United States even though it had a very significant localized effect on New York City and, to a lesser degree, on the greater Washington, D.C. area. Thus, for the tragedy to affect the economy it would have had to have affected...

Auditing and Accounting Regulation: Key SEC Powers

Key auditing and accounting reform legislation, S. 2673 (Sarbanes), and H.R. 3763 (Oxley), and proposals for auditor oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have been launched to help restore public confidence in a system of corporate financial accounting tainted by accounting fiascos at companies like Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom. This report provides background on significant current SEC regulatory powers in the area of accounting and auditing. It will be updated if there are changes in SEC authority.

Renewal Communities Initiative: Background and Overview

This report discusses the Renewal Communities (RC) Initiative, which combines tax credits and other provisions designed to revive some of the nation’s more impoverished areas.

Legislative History: A Basic Guide For Constituents

This report provides an overview of legislative history of federal legislation. The report briefly outlines the legislative process and then suggests where to find materials that describe or document a piece of legislation's progress through Congress.

Small Business Administration: Overview and Issues

Small Business Administration: Overview and Issues

Small Business Disaster Assistance: Responding to the Terrorist Attacks

Senate Committee Activity: Action on Measures Referred, 1973-2000

This report discusses the use of committees as crucial centers of policymaking, oversight of federal agencies, and public education is an organizing principle of the contemporary Congress.

The Pocket Veto: Its Current Status

The House's Corrections Calendar

This report discusses the establishment of the “Corrections Day”, a concept credited to Michigan Governor John Englerwhich, which is a procedure for repealing “the dumbest things the federal government is currently doing and just abolish them.”

The Discharge Rule in the House: Principal Features and Uses

The “discharge rule” of the House of Representatives allows a measure to come to the floor for consideration, even if the committee of referral does not report it and the leadership does not schedule it. To initiate this action, a majority of House Members must first sign a petition for that purpose. The rule permits either (1) the committee of referral to be discharged from the measure itself; or (2) the Committee on Rules to be discharged from a special rule for considering the measure. Layover periods required by the rule permit the Committee on Rules to preempt a discharge attempt, and...

House Schedule: Recent Practices and Proposed Options

House scheduling practices have been criticized frequently in recent years for bringing about compressed workweeks, protracted daily sessions, conflicts between floor and committee work, pressure on family life, and inefficient use of time generally. Especially in the context of reform efforts in the 103rd and 104th Congresses (1993-1996), several alternatives have drawn support and objection. These discussions indicate that current practices are strongly related to Members' weekend commutes to their home districts. Members generally arrange their schedules so as to devote to these trips...

The Amending Process in the House of Representatives

The amending process on the floor of the House of Representatives gives Members an opportunity to change the provisions of the bills and resolutions on which they are going to vote. This report summarizes many of the procedures and practices affecting this process, which can be among the most complex as well as the most important stages of legislative consideration.

Voting and Quorum Procedures in the House of Representatives

The Constitution requires that a quorum, or a simple majority of the Members, is to be present on the floor when the House of Representatives transacts business. However, the House conducts much of its legislative business in Committee of the Whole where this constitutional requirement does not apply. Also, the House always presumes that a quorum is present unless and until its absence is demonstrated conclusively. The rules of the House severely limit the occasions on which a Representative may make a point of order that a quorum is not present, either in the House or in Committee of...

House Rules Changes Affecting Floor Proceedings in the 107th Congress

On the first day of the 107th Congress, the House agreed to H.Res. 5, making six substantive changes affecting its floor proceedings. These amendments facilitate use of the Corrections Calendar and voting on amendments in Committee of the Whole. They also limit votes relating to use of exhibits on the floor, and bar motions to instruct containing argument as well as proposals to name public works after sitting members of either house. Finally, the rule providing for the House to agree to change the public debt ceiling without a separate floor vote was repealed.

Senate Floor Procedure: A Summary

Senate Floor Procedure: A Summary

Legislative Research in Congressional Offices: A Primer

This report discusses the process of conducting legislative research: deciding the scope, collecting the information and evaluating sources. Members of Congress need many kinds of information and analysis to support their legislative, oversight, and representational work, including both quick facts, or information to improve their understanding of a complex set of issues.

Economic Sanctions: Legislation in the 106th Congress

Economic sanctions are coercive measures imposed by one country, or coalition of countries, against another country, its government or individual entities therein, to bring about a change in behavior or policies. Economic sanctions regimes typically include a range of measures such as trade embargoes; restrictions on exports or imports; denial of foreign assistance, loans and investments; control of foreign assets held in the United States; or the restriction of economic transactions that involve U.S. citizens or businesses. As one part of the foreign policy tool kit, economic sanctions...

House and Senate Rules of Procedure: A Comparison

This report compares selected House and Senate rules of procedure governing various stages of the legislative process: referral of legislation to committees; scheduling and calling up measures; and floor consideration. The appendices provide sources of additional information about House and Senate rules of procedure.

House Rules Affecting Committees

House Rules, especially Rules X-XIII, govern the authority and operations of its committees and subcommittees. This report identifies and summarizes these and other rules and directives affecting committee powers, authority, activities, and operations.

Foreign Policy Agency Reorganization in the 105th Congress

On April 18, 1997, the Clinton Administration announced a plan to reorganize the foreign policy agencies. The two-year plan would require significant internal restructuring of the State Department, and eliminate two other agencies--the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) whose functions and personnel would be absorbed by State. It would integrate ACDA into State within the first year, and USIA into State by the end of 1999. The implementation process would begin after a 120-day planning period. The U.S. Agency for International Development...

Banking and Finance: Legislative Initiatives in the 105th Congress, Second Session

This report reviews major banking and finance issues that are receiving congressional attention in the 2nd session of the 105th Congress. It will be updated periodically to reflect legislative developments. Relevant CRS products are referenced.

Fast Track for Trade Agreements: Procedural Controls for Congress and Proposed Alternatives

This report discusses the fast track trade procedures in the Trade Act of 1974 operate as procedural rules of the House and Senate, and the statute itself declares them to be enacted as an exercise of the constitutional authority of each house to determine its own rules. These procedures prevent Congress from altering an implementing bill or declining to act, but permit it to enact or reject the bill. By these means Congress retains authority to legislate in the areas covered, yet affords the President conditions for effective negotiation.

Market-Based Environmental Management: Issues in Implementation

The acid rain title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments authorizes the first nationwide system for trading the regional location and method of pollution control. This market-type mechanism, if successfully implemented, could reduce the cost of compliance of meeting new limits on sulfur dioxide emissions, the main precursor of acid rain. Successful passage of the sulfur dioxide trading mechanism has invigorated efforts to add similar mechanisms to the regulatory regimes for other environmental management areas. Limitations of current regulatory approaches, complexity of remaining and...

Enterprise Zones as a Concept

"Enterprise zones" as a concept originated in England in the late 1970s. The idea is to free certain specified urban areas of taxes and government regulations to encourage private business investment and create new jobs. Empirical evidence to support the concept is lacking. This paper contains a discussion of the concept of enterprise zones, without reference to any legislative proposals in the United States. Analyses of legislation will appear as prime sponsors introduce new bills.