A call of the roll to establish whether a quorum is present — 218 in the House and 100 in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union; a quorum in the Senate is 51.
If any senator “suggests the absence of a quorum,” the presiding officer must direct the roll to be called. Often, a quorum call is terminated by unanimous consent before completion, which permits the Senate to use the quorum call to obtain a brief delay to work out some difficulty or await a senator’s arrival. Quorum calls can last a few seconds, or they can last several hours. And, they can happen repeatedly throughout the day.
Bell (or buzzer) and light systems notify members of quorum calls, votes, and other proceedings in their chambers.
McConnell Instructs Sergeant at Arms to Collect Absent Senators
- § 6.130, House Floor: Voting, § 6.190, Holds, Clearance, and Unanimous Consent, § 6.230, Cloture in Senate Floor Proceedings, in Congressional Deskbook
- Chapter 2.J. Submitting Legislation; Chapter 5.G. Quorum Calls; Chapter 5.H. Filibuster; in Congressional Procedure
- House Rule XX, Voting and Quorum Calls
- Senate Rule VI, Quorum – Absent Senators May Be Sent For
- “Voting and Quorum Procedures in the Senate,” CRS Report 96-452 (16-page PDF)
- “The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction,” CRS Report 96-548 (20-page PDF)
- “The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction,” CRS Report 95-563 (18-page PDF)
- “Germaneness of Debate in the Senate: The Pastore Rule,” CRS Report R45134 (14-page PDF)
- “Resolving Legislative Differences in the Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses,” CRS Report 98-696 (40-page PDF)
- “Quorum Requirements in the Senate: Committee and Chamber,” CRS Report 98-775 (4page PDF)
- “Filibusters and Cloture in the Senate,” CRS Report RL30360 (29-page PDF)
- “The Committee Markup Process in the House of Representatives,” CRS Report RL30244 (26-page PDF)
- “The First Day of a New Congress: A Guide to Proceedings on the House Floor,” CRS Report RL30725 (21-page PDF)
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