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How Congress Works

Rules of the Senate


PDF of Rule XVII

1. Except as provided in paragraph 3, in any case in which a controversy arises as to the jurisdiction of any committee with respect to any proposed legislation, the question of jurisdiction shall be decided by the presiding officer, without debate, in favor of the committee which has jurisdiction over the subject matter which predominates in such proposed legislation; but such decision shall be subject to an appeal.

2. A motion simply to refer shall not be open to amendment, except to add instructions.

3. (a) Upon motion by both the majority leader or his designee and the minority leader or his designee, proposed legislation may be referred to two or more committees jointly or sequentially. Notice of such motion and the proposed legislation to which it relates shall be printed in the Congressional Record. The motion shall be privileged, but it shall not be in order until the Congressional Record in which the notice is printed has been available to Senators for at least twenty-four hours. No amendment to any such motion shall be in order except amendments to any instructions contained therein. Debate on any such motion, and all amendments thereto and debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith, shall be limited to not more than two hours, the time to be equally divided between, and controlled by, the majority leader and the minority leader or their designees.

(b) Proposed legislation which is referred to two or more committees jointly may be reported only by such committees jointly and only one report may accompany any proposed legislation so jointly reported.

(c) A motion to refer any proposed legislation to two or more committees sequentially shall specify the order of referral.

(d) Any motion under this paragraph may specify the portion or portions of proposed legislation to be considered by the committees, or any of them, to which such proposed legislation is referred, and such committees or committee shall be limited, in the consideration of such proposed legislation, to the portion or portions so specified.

(e) Any motion under this subparagraph may contain instructions with respect to the time allowed for consideration by the committees, or any of them, to which proposed legislation is referred and the discharge of such committees, or any of them, from further consideration of such proposed legislation.

4. (a) All reports of committees and motions to discharge a committee from the consideration of a subject, and all subjects from which a committee shall be discharged, shall lie over one day for consideration, unless by unanimous consent the Senate shall otherwise direct.

(b) Whenever any committee (except the Committee on Appropriations) has reported any measure, by action taken in conformity with the requirements of paragraph 7 of rule XXVI, no point of order shall lie with respect to that measure on the ground that hearings upon that measure by the committee were not conducted in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 4 of rule XXVI.

5. Any measure or matter reported by any standing committee shall not be considered in the Senate unless the report of that committee upon that measure or matter has been available to Members for at least two calendar days (excluding Sundays and legal holidays) prior to the consideration of that measure or matter. If hearings have been held on any such measure or matter so reported, the committee reporting the measure or matter shall make every reasonable effort to have such hearings printed and available for distribution to the Members of the Senate prior to the consideration of such measure or matter in the Senate. This paragraph

(1) may be waived by joint agreement of the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader of the Senate; and

(2) shall not apply to

(A) any measure for the declaration of war, or the declaration of a national emergency, by the Congress, and

(B) any executive decision, determination, or action which would become, or continue to be, effective unless disapproved or otherwise invalidated by one or both Houses of Congress.