Suspend the Rules / Suspension of the Rules (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Suspend the Rules / Suspension of the Rules

Skyfari at Bronx Zoo, by John Morton
Skyfari at Bronx Zoo, by John Morton

Suspension of the Rules: Expeditious procedure for passing noncontroversial measures in the House. Requires a two-thirds vote of those present and voting, after forty minutes of debate, and does not allow floor amendments.

This procedure, for largely noncontroversial measures, accounts for more than half of all measures considered by the House. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week, and during the last six days of a session, the Speaker may recognize members to move to “suspend the rules and pass” a particular measure or conference report. Suspension measures can also be considered on other days by unanimous consent or pursuant to provisions of a special rule. A measure traditionally will not be considered under the suspension procedure if it was controversial in committee.

Debate under Suspension of the rules on H.R. 1684


Debate on a motion to suspend the rules is limited to forty minutes, with twenty minutes controlled by a proponent and twenty minutes controlled by an opponent, regardless of party affiliation. In practice, a majority floor manager controls twenty minutes and a minority floor manager controls the other twenty minutes. Measures considered under this process are not subject to floor amendment, although the motion to suspend may incorporate an amendment.

Often a time saving procedure for passing bills in the House. The wording of the motion, which may be recognized by the Speaker, is, “I move to suspend the rules and pass bill . . . .” A favorable vote by two-thirds of those present is required for passage. Debate is limited to 40 minutes, and no amendments from the floor are permitted. If a two-thirds favorable vote is not attained, the bill may be considered later under regular procedures.


The “72 Hour Rule” (formerly called the “3 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, a draft of the committee report must have been available for 72 hours. Conference reports must also have been available for 72 hours 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, may also not be considered on the House floor unless the text of the measure has been available for 72 hours. Proposed committee reports, unreported bills and joint resolutions, conference reports, and joint explanatory statements are considered available under these rules if they are publicly available in electronic form on a website designated by the Committee on House Administration for this purpose,

The House has several means by which it can choose to waive these availability requirements and call up, debate, and vote on a measure in a single calendar day even if the text of the measure was not made available prior to consideration. These include (1) considering a measure under the suspension of the rules procedure or by unanimous consent, (2) adopting a special rule that waives the 72-hour requirement, (3) adopting a special rule that waives the one-day requirement for another special rule, and (4) convening a second legislative day on the same calendar day. Waiving availability requirements allows the House to act quickly when necessary, such as near the end of a session.

Also see







Legislative Drafter's Deskbook: A Practical Guide

Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide

Pocket Constitution

Pocket Constitution

Citizen's Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials

Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates

Congressional Procedure

Congressional Procedure, from TheCapitol.Net

For more than 40 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been teaching professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs about the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.

Our custom on-site and online training, publications, and audio courses include congressional operations, legislative and budget process, communication and advocacy, media and public relations, testifying before Congress, research skills, legislative drafting, critical thinking and writing, and more.

TheCapitol.Net is on the GSA Schedule, MAS, for custom on-site and online training. GSA Contract GS02F0192X

TheCapitol.Net is a non-partisan small business.

Teaching how Washington and Congress work ™

Select publications from TheCapitol.Net