Conferees / Managers / Instruct Conferees
Reid Announces Conferees to Negotiate One-Year Plan
Conferees: The representatives and senators from each chamber who serve on a conference committee; also referred to as managers.
Instruct Conferees: Formal action by one chamber urging its conferees to uphold a particular position in conference.
Managers: Representatives and senators serving on a conference committee; also called conferees.
Selection of Conferees: Although House rules grant the Speaker the right to appoint conferees, the Speaker usually does so after consultation with the chair(s) of the committee(s) of jurisdiction. The Senate presiding officer appoints Senate conferees, although the presiding officer, too, draws selections from recommendations of the chair of the committee of jurisdiction and party leaders. Conferees are also referred to as managers.
Although seniority on a committee of jurisdiction plays a role in selecting conferees, junior committee members are also appointed to conference committees. A member not on the committee of jurisdiction may be appointed if he had an important amendment included in the chamber’s version of the measure or in the other chamber’s version. In some instances, especially when a measure was considered by multiple committees, representatives or senators can be appointed as limited-purpose conferees. Precedents in both chambers indicate that conferees are supposed to support their chamber’s legislation in conference.
The number of conferees can range from three to every member of a chamber. Generally, the size of a chamber delegation reflects the complexity of a measure. Moreover, the size of one chamber’s delegation does not necessarily affect the size of the other chamber’s delegation. Decisions are made by majority vote of each delegation, never by a majority vote of all the conferees. Each chamber appoints a majority of conferees to its delegation from the majority party.
House Republican Conferees Ready to Work with the Senate
Instructing Conferees: Because a conference committee is a negotiating forum, there are few rules imposed on conferees. However, there are two circumstances under which House conferees may be given direction: first, before conferees are named, and second, when conferees have been appointed for twenty calendar days and ten legislative days and have not yet filed a report.
By custom, recognition to offer a motion to instruct conferees–a motion before the conferees are named–is a prerogative of the minority party. The motion is debatable for one hour. Only one motion to instruct conferees before their being named is in order.
For a motion to instruct conferees who have been appointed but have not yet reported, any member, regardless of party, can be recognized to make a motion to instruct, and numerous motions to instruct can be offered.
Motions to instruct House conferees are not binding but express the sentiment of the House on a particular issue in either the House or Senate version of a measure sent to conference.
Motions to instruct in the Senate are rarely made. If made, a motion to instruct is both debatable and amendable, and, as in the House,must be offered before conferees are named. Unlike the House, however, a motion to instruct is not available after conferees have been appointed but the conference committee has not yet reported.
- Conference Committee
- Conference Report
- Joint Explanatory Statement of Managers
- § 6.280 Conference Committees, § 6.282 Authority of Conferees, in Congressional Deskbook
- Chapter 5.G. Quorum Calls; Chapter 6.D. Conference Committee; Chapter 6.E. Conference Reports; Chapter 7.H. Appropriations; Chapter 8.G. Impeachment and Trial; in Congressional Procedure
Congressman Jeff Miller – Floor Debate on Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 3230
- House Rule XXII – House And Senate Relations (47-page PDF)
- Senate Rule XXVIII – Conference Committees, Reports, Open Meetings
- “Congressional Budget Resolutions: Motions to Instruct Conferees,” CRS Report RS20480 (8-page PDF)
- “House Conferees: Selection,” CRS Report RS20227 (3-page PDF)
- “Instructing House Conferees,” CRS Report 98-381 (6-page PDF)
- “House Conferees: Restrictions on Their Authority,” CRS Report RS20219 (8-page PDF)
- “Going to Conference in the Senate,” CRS Report RS20454 (4-page PDF)
- “Senate Conferees: Their Selection and Authority,” CRS Report 98-380 (8-page PDF)
- “Conference Reports and Joint Explanatory Statements,” CRS Report 98-382 (47-page PDF)
- “Amendments Between the Houses: Procedural Options and Effects,” CRS Report R41003 (40-page PDF)
- “Instructing Senate Conferees,” CRS Report RS20209 (9-page PDF)
- “Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction,” CRS Report 96-708 (15-page PDF)
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