From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms
Germane / Germaneness / Pastore Rule
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Pertaining to the subject matter of the measure at hand. All House amendments must be germane to the bill being considered. House Rule XVI, clause 7 specifies:
7. No motion or proposition on a subject different from that under consideration shall be admitted under color of amendment.
The Senate requires that amendments be germane when they are proposed to general appropriation bills, bills being considered once cloture has been adopted, or, frequently, when proceeding under a unanimous consent agreement placing a time limit on consideration of a bill. The 1974 budget act also requires that amendments to concurrent budget resolutions be germane. In the House, floor debate must be germane, and the first three hours of debate each day in the Senate must be germane to pending business.
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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 Hour occurring at the beginning of a new legislative day (in the rare event the Senate should hold a Morning Hour) or (2) after the unfinished business or any pending business has been laid before the Senate on any calendar day. The Pastore rule’s germaneness requirement can be waived by unanimous consent or by nondebatable motion.
A Senator may be called to order during the three-hour window described in the Pastore rule by the presiding officer or by another Senator if his or her remarks are not germane to the specific question then before the Senate. If a Senator calls another Senator to order under the rule, enforcement first results in a reminder from the presiding officer that debate must be germane to the question then pending before the Senate. The raising of a point of order does not remove speaking privileges from the offending Senator. Depending on the ruling of the presiding officer on such a point of order, a Senator may either continue speaking (if ruled germane), pivot to a germane topic (if ruled not germane), or yield the floor (if ruled not germane).
“Germaneness of Debate in the Senate: The Pastore Rule,” CRS Report R45134 (14-page PDF)
- Nongermane Amendment
- Unanimous Consent Agreement
- Chapter 6. Legislating in Congress: Legislative Process, in Congressional Deskbook.
- Chapter 3.F. Amendment Procedure; Chapter 4.H. Amendment on the House Floor; Chapter 5.H. Filibuster; Chapter 5.J. Amendment on the Senate Floor and in Committee; in Congressional Procedure
- House Committee on Rules
- Rules of the Senate
- “Minority Rights and Senate Procedures,” CRS Report RL30850 (15-page PDF)
- “The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction,” CRS Report 96-548 (20-page PDF)
- “Filling the Amendment Tree in the Senate,” CRS Report RS22854 (14-page PDF)
- “Senate Amendment Process,” CRS Report 98-707 (3-page PDF)
- “House and Senate Rules of Procedure: A Comparison,” CRS Report RL30945 (19-page PDF)
- “Germaneness of Debate in the Senate: The Pastore Rule,” CRS Report R45134 (14-page PDF)
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- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Custom, On-Site Training
- Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments in a Nutshell, Audio Course on CD
- Congress, the Legislative Process, and the Fundamentals of Lawmaking Series, a Nine-Course series on CD
Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide
Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates
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