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The Legislative Process: Calendars and Scheduling (Video)

Calendars and Scheduling (Transcript)

Once a committee has reported a bill, it is placed on one of the respective chamber’s calendars. These calendars are essentially a list of bills eligible for floor consideration; however, the bills on the calendars are not guaranteed floor consideration. Many will never be brought up on the floor during the course of a two-year Congress. It is also possible, although less common, for a bill to come directly to the floor without being reported and placed on a calendar.

In the House, majority party leadership decides which bills the House will consider, and in what order. For example, after consulting with committee leaders, majority party leadership may decide to schedule a bill for expedited floor consideration. Alternatively, leadership may ask the Rules Committee to start the process of bringing a specific bill to the floor for more lengthy consideration and possible amendments. These different mechanisms by which the majority party proposes floor consideration of a bill are discussed in more detail in the next section.

In the Senate, majority party leadership does not use the same set of rules as the House to bring bills to the floor. One way the Senate can take up a bill is by agreeing to a motion to proceed to it. Once a Senator – typically the majority leader – makes such a motion that the Senate proceed to a certain bill, the Senate can then normally debate the motion to proceed. If it eventually agrees to the motion by a majority vote, the Senate can then begin consideration of the bill.  Alternatively, the majority leader can ask unanimous consent that the Senate take up a certain bill. If no one objects to such a request when it is made, then the Senate can immediately begin consideration of the bill in question. (When the leader refrains from making such a request because he has been informed that a Senator would object, it is often said that a Senator has placed a hold on the bill.)

In both chambers, party leaders keep their membership informed of the anticipated floor schedule using various methods – like periodic whip notices or other frequent communications.