In understanding the legislative process, it is important to understand that there are numerous ways in which a measure can be brought to the House floor for debate. These methods include amendment, voting on a passage, or because the measure was placed on a House calendar.
Measures that are noncontroversial in nature and which have already been cleared by respective party leaders can often come to the House floor through unanimous consent. Once cleared, a member may request permission to bring up that particular measure. The process can be stopped by the objection by another member.
More than half of all measures that are considered by the House are brought onto the floor through a procedure known as suspension of the rules, which is primarily used for noncontroversial measures. The Speaker may choose to recognize members to move to suspend the rules and pass particular measures on each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the last six days of a session. If a measure was considered to be controversial while it was in committee it will generally not be considered under the suspension procedure.
Measures can also come to the floor on the private calendar. Private measures may be considered on the third Tuesday of each month as well, at the discretion of the Speaker of the House. Bills on the private calendar typically relate to individual immigration and claims matters. There is an official objector for each party that is responsible for reviewing bills on the private calendar. If there is a concern by the official objector, an objection may be issued to the consideration of that measure.
A member may also file a motion with the clerk of the House to discharge from committee any measure that has been pending for thirty legislative days. The discharge calendar is considered on the second as well as the fourth Mondays of each month. For a measure to be eligible for discharge, it must have been on the discharge calendar for seven legislative days. Discharge motions are considered in the House with twenty minutes of debate that are divided equally between the opponent and the proponent.
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Congressional Dynamics and the Legislative Process
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations
- Advanced Legislative Procedure
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