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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' private needs.

Calendar and Legislative Days

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 day.

Morning Hour and Morning Business

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 types.

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.

Presenting Measures

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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