Enactment of a Law
Beginning A Daily Session of The Senate
| Calendar and Legislative Days |
Morning Hour and Morning Business |
| Presenting Measures |
Each day in the Senate begins as the Secretary of the Senate and
the Presiding Officer for that day escort the Chaplain of the Senate or
guest chaplain to the desk. The Chaplain is a clergyman chosen by the Senate,
whose responsibility is to offer the prayer at the opening of each daily
session, as well as to officiate at various ceremonies and respond to Senators'
Calendar and Legislative
As the Senate begins its new day, it is important to note that the
Senate recognizes two meanings for the word "day," the "calendar"
day and the "legislative" day. A calendar day is recognized as
each 24 hour period. Reference may be made to a day certain, as in a unanimous
consent request to vote on passage of a measure on August 4, 1996 (a specific,
determined, or fixed day), or a day not yet determined, as in a unanimous
consent request or rule requiring action "on either of the next two
days of actual session." The references in these cases are to calendar
days. A legislative day is the period of time following an adjournment
of the Senate until another adjournment. A recess (rather than an adjournment)
in no way affects a legislative day; therefore, one legislative day may
consume a considerable period of time--days, weeks, even months--but one
or more adjournments from one day to the next would cause the calendar
and legislative day to coincide.
As used in the Rules of the Senate, a day generally is recognized
as a legislative day unless specified as a calendar day. There is, for
example, the proviso that "no Senator shall speak more than twice
upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day..." in
Rule XIX. However, Rule V, disallowing motions "to suspend, modify
or amend any rule..., except on one day's notice in writing...," although
not specifying the type of day, is interpreted as meaning one calendar
Morning Hour and Morning
The Senate Majority Leader by unanimous consent customarily provides
for a brief period of time (usually 10 minutes each) at the beginning of
each daily session for himself and the Minority Leader to be used at their
discretion for observations on current events or pending legislation, submission
and agreement of various legislative matters, etc. They may yield all or
part of their time to their Senators for sundry purposes. It is with these
orders that the day of the Senate begins.
During the morning hour of each legislative day, Rule VII of the
Senate provides that, after the Journal is read, the Presiding Officer
lay before the Senate messages, reports, and communications of various
Measures or matters are transmitted between the two Houses, as are
written messages from one House to the other pertaining to the passage
of measures or other conduct of official business requiring concurrence
or notification. The President of the United States transmits written messages
to the Congress, which are brought to the Chamber and announced to the
Senate by a messenger from the White House. Such messages are numbered
sequentially for a Congress and assigned a prefix PM. They are printed
in full in the Congressional Record. Messages from the President
may be received at any stage of Senate proceedings, except during votes
or quorum calls, while the Journal is being read, or while a question of
order or a motion to adjourn is pending.
The Presiding Officer then calls for the "presentation of petitions
and memorials." These are documents memorializing the Government to
do or not to do something. Memorials and petitions when laid before the
Senate are numbered and assigned a prefix POM, and all memorials and petitions
from State, Territorial, and insular possession legislatures or conventions,
lawfully called, are printed in full in the Record when presented.
Those received from other memorialists or petitioners are described only
by a brief statement of the contents.
Next the Presiding Officer calls for the filing of reports of committees,
the introduction of bills and joint resolutions, and the submission of
other resolutions. Under recent practices, however, nearly all bills, resolutions,
and committee reports are presented by Senators to the clerks at the Presiding
Officer's desk for processing throughout the day, and without any comments
from the floor.
The Majority Leader customarily secures unanimous consent at the
beginning of each new Congress to allow receipt at the desk of all measures
on days when morning business is conducted. Such permission allows Senators
to bring measures to the desk at any time during the day, instead of following
the procedure as set forth in Rule VII, requiring introduction of bills
and joint resolutions only on a new legislative day during the transaction
of morning business, followed by submission of other resolutions.
Bills and resolutions still may be introduced from the floor, however,
and any Senator, when doing so, usually discusses his proposal when he
presents it. There can be only one prime sponsor of a bill or resolution,
but commonly other Senators are included as co-sponsors.
The Senate's rules make no mention of multiple sponsorship, which
has been a common practice for many years. Though custom permits unlimited
numbers of Senators to sponsor a wide assortment of measures, it prohibits
more than one Member's name to appear on a reported bill or resolution
and the printed report accompanying it. Co-sponsors are often shown on
measures as introduced, but other names may be added, by unanimous consent,
at their next printing. Since its inception, the advisability of multiple
sponsorship has been questioned by many Senators, and others have submitted
resolutions to abolish the practice. The Committee on Rules and Administration
has held hearings and favorably reported measures to amend the Rules to
prohibit joint sponsorship, except under limited conditions, but to date,
the full Senate has not voted its approval or disapproval. A former practice
of holding measures at the desk for days, to permit the addition of names,
has often met considerable opposition and was discontinued in the 1960s.
Measures can be submitted with the phrase "by request,"
a term found following the names of the sponsors of bills and resolutions
that are introduced or submitted at the request of the Administration or
private organizations or individuals. Such proposals, though introduced
as a courtesy, are not necessarily favored by the Senators sponsoring them.
Drafts of proposed legislation from the President or an executive agency
are usually introduced by the chairman of the committee of jurisdiction,
who may be of the opposition party.
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