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The Standing Rules of the Senate are the parliamentary procedures adopted by the United States Senate that govern its procedure. The Senate's power to establish rules derives from Article One, Section 5 of the United States Constitution: "Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings..."
There are currently forty-four rules, with the latest revision having been adopted on January 24, 2013.(The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 lobbying reform bill introduced a 44th rule on earmarks). The stricter rules are often waived by unanimous consent.
The Constitution provides that a majority of the Senate constitutes a quorum to do business. Under the rules and customs of the Senate, a quorum is always assumed to be present unless a quorum call explicitly demonstrates otherwise. Any senator may request a quorum call by "suggesting the absence of a quorum"; a clerk then calls the roll of the Senate and notes which members are present. In practice, senators almost always request quorum calls not to establish the presence of a quorum, but to temporarily delay proceedings without having to adjourn the session. Such a delay may serve one of many purposes; often, it allows Senate leaders to negotiate compromises off the floor or to allow senators time to come to the Senate floor to make speeches without having to constantly be present in the chamber while waiting for the opportunity. Once the need for a delay has ended, any senator may request unanimous consent to rescind the quorum call.
During debates, senators may speak only if called upon by the presiding officer. The presiding officer is, however, required to recognize the first senator who rises to speak. Thus, the presiding officer has little control over the course of debate. Customarily, the majority leader and minority leader are accorded priority during debates, even if another senator rises first. All speeches must be addressed to the presiding officer, using the words "Mr. President" or "Madam President." Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in speeches; other members must be referred to in the third person. In most cases, senators refer to each other not by name, but by state, using forms such as "the senior senator from Virginia" or "the junior senator from California."
There are very few restrictions on the content of speeches; there is no requirement that speeches be germane to the matter before the Senate.
The Standing Rules of the United States Senate provide that no senator may make more than two speeches on a motion or bill on the same legislative day. (A legislative day begins when the Senate convenes and ends when it adjourns; hence, it does not necessarily coincide with the calendar day.) The length of these speeches is not limited by the rules; thus, in most cases, senators may speak for as long as they please. Often, the Senate adopts unanimous consent agreements imposing time limits. In other cases (for example, for the budget process), limits are imposed by statute. In general, however, the right to unlimited debate is preserved.
The filibuster is an obstructionary tactic used to defeat bills and motions by prolonging debate indefinitely. A filibuster may entail, but does not actually require, long speeches, dilatory motions, and an extensive series of proposed amendments. The longest filibuster speech in the history of the Senate was delivered by Strom Thurmond, who spoke for over twenty-four hours in an unsuccessful attempt to block the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The Senate may end a filibuster by invoking cloture. In most cases, cloture requires the support of three-fifths of the Senate; however, if the matter before the Senate involves changing the rules of the body, a two-thirds majority is required. Cloture is invoked very rarely, particularly because bipartisan support is usually necessary to obtain the required supermajority. If the Senate does invoke cloture, debate does not end immediately; instead, further debate is limited to thirty additional hours unless increased by another three-fifths vote.
When debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. In many cases, the Senate votes by voice vote; the presiding officer puts the question, and Members respond either "Aye!" (in favor of the motion) or "No!" (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote. Any senator, however, may challenge the presiding officer's assessment and request a recorded vote. The request may be granted only if it is seconded by one-fifth of the senators present. In practice, however, senators second requests for recorded votes as a matter of courtesy. When a recorded vote is held, the clerk calls the roll of the Senate in alphabetical order; each senator responds when their name is called. Senators who miss the roll call may still cast a vote as long as the recorded vote remains open. The vote is closed at the discretion of the presiding officer but must remain open for a minimum of fifteen minutes. If the vote is tied, the Vice President, if present, is entitled to a casting vote. If the Vice President is not present, however, the motion is resolved in the negative.
On occasion, the Senate may go into what is called a secret or closed session. During a closed session, the chamber doors are closed and the galleries are completely cleared of anyone not sworn to secrecy, not instructed in the rules of the closed session, or not essential to the session. Closed sessions are quite rare and are usually held only under certain circumstances in which the Senate is discussing sensitive subject matter, such as information critical to national security, private communications from the president, or discussions of Senate deliberations during impeachment trials. Any Senator has the right to call a closed session as long as the motion is seconded.
Budget bills are governed under a special rule process called "Reconciliation" that disallows filibusters. Reconciliation was devised in 1974 but came into use in the early 1980s.
There are the following Standing Rules of the Senate:
The latest change was the introduction in 2006 of a 44th rule on earmarks, by the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act.
Cloture, closure or, informally, a guillotine, is a motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken. Clôture is French for "the act of terminating something". It was introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom by William Ewart Gladstone to overcome the obstructionism of the Irish Parliamentary Party and was made permanent in 1887. It was subsequently adopted by the United States Senate and other legislatures. The name cloture remains in the United States; in Commonwealth countries it is usually closure or, informally, guillotine; in the United Kingdom closure and guillotine are distinct motions.
A filibuster is a political procedure where one or more members of parliament or congress debate over a proposed piece of legislation to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as "talking a bill to death" or "talking out a bill" and is characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. This form of political obstruction reaches as far back as Ancient Roman times and could also be referred to synonymously with political stonewalling. Due to the often extreme length of time required for a successful filibuster, many speakers stray off-topic after exhausting the original subject matter. Past speakers have read through laws from different states, recited speeches, and even read from cookbooks and phone books.
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group. According to Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, the "requirement for a quorum is protection against totally unrepresentative action in the name of the body by an unduly small number of persons." In contrast, a plenum is a meeting of the full body.
Congressional Debate is a competitive interscholastic high school debate event in the United States. The National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA), National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) and many state associations and national invitational tournaments offer Congressional Debate as an event. Each organization and tournament offers its own rules, although the National Forensic League has championed standardization since 2007, when it began to ask its districts to use one of a number of procedures for qualification to its National Tournament. The Pakistan Student Congress event is a conference, and not interscholastic competition.
The Maryland Senate, sometimes referred to as the Maryland State Senate, is the upper house of the General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland. Composed of 47 senators elected from an equal number of constituent single-member districts, the Senate is responsible, along with the Maryland House of Delegates, for passage of laws in Maryland, and for confirming executive appointments made by the Governor of Maryland.
Markup is the process by which a U.S. congressional committee or state legislative session debates, amends, and rewrites proposed legislation.
The nuclear option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override a standing rule of the Senate, such as the 60-vote rule to close debate, by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules. The option is invoked when the majority leader raises a point of order that contravenes a standing rule, such as that only a simple majority is needed to close debate on certain matters. The presiding officer denies the point of order based on Senate rules, but the ruling of the chair is then appealed and overturned by majority vote, establishing new precedent.
The Clerk of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the United States House of Representatives, whose primary duty is to act as the chief record-keeper for the House.
In parliamentary procedure, the previous question is generally used as a motion to end debate on a pending proposal and bring it to an immediate vote. The meaning of this specialized motion has nothing to do with any question previously considered by the assembly.
In the Congress of the United States, a closed session is a parliamentary procedure for the Senate or the House of Representatives to discuss matters requiring secrecy.
A conference committee is a joint committee of the United States Congress appointed by the House of Representatives and Senate to resolve disagreements on a particular bill. A conference committee is usually composed of senior members of the standing committees of each house that originally considered the legislation.
The Legislature of the State of Oklahoma is the state legislative branch of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate are the two houses that make up the bicameral state legislature. There are 101 state representatives, each serving a two-year term, and 48 state senators, who serve four-year terms that are staggered so only half of the Oklahoma Senate districts are eligible in each election cycle. Legislators are elected directly by the people from single member districts of equal population. The Oklahoma Legislature meets annually in the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City.
A committee of the whole is a meeting of a legislative or deliberative assembly using procedural rules that are based on those of a committee, except that in this case the committee includes all members of the assembly. As with other (standing) committees, the activities of a committee of the whole are limited to considering and making recommendations on matters that the assembly has referred to it; it cannot take up other matters or vote directly on the assembly's business. The purpose of a committee of the whole is to relax the usual limits on debate, allowing a more open exchange of views without the urgency of a final vote. Debates in a committee of the whole may be recorded but are often excluded from the assembly's minutes. After debating, the committee submits its conclusions to the assembly and business continues according to the normal rules.
Deliberative assemblies – bodies that use parliamentary procedure to arrive at decisions – use several methods of voting on motions. The regular methods of voting in such bodies are a voice vote, a rising vote, and a show of hands. Additional forms of voting include a recorded vote and balloting.
In parliamentary procedure, a motion is a formal proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly that the assembly take certain action. Such motions, and the form they take, are specified by the deliberate assembly and/or a pre-agreed volume detailing parliamentary procedure, such as Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised; The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure; or Lord Critine's The ABC of Chairmanship. Motions are used in conducting business in almost all legislative bodies worldwide, and are used in meetings of many church vestries, corporate boards, and fraternal organizations.
In parliamentary procedure, a suspension of the rules allows a deliberative assembly to set aside its normal rules to do something that it could not do otherwise. However, there are rules that cannot be suspended.
Debate in parliamentary procedure refers to discussion on the merits of a pending question; that is, whether it should or should not be agreed to. It is also commonly referred to as "discussion".
The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—constitutes the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Filibuster is a tactic used in the United States Senate to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote by means of obstruction. The most common form occurs when one or more senators attempt to delay or block a vote on a bill by extending debate on the measure. The Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn" vote to bring the debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.
Procedures of the United States Congress are established ways of doing legislative business. Congress has two-year terms with one session each year. There are rules and procedures, often complex, which guide how it converts ideas for legislation into laws.
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