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Enactment of a Law

Considering Measures on the Senate Floor

The Senate's Majority and Minority Leaders, as the spokesmen for their parties, and in consultation with their respective policy committees, implement and direct the legislative schedule and program.

Most measures are passed either on the call of the Calendar or by unanimous consent procedure. The more significant and controversial matters are considered, when possible, under unanimous consent agreements limiting debate and controlling time on the measure, amendments thereto, and debatable motions relating to it. This is done because otherwise debate is unlimited. Measures may be brought up on motion by a simple majority vote if they have been on the Calendar one legislative day. Such a motion to proceed is usually made by the Majority Leader or his designee and is usually debatable. The motion to proceed to the consideration of a measure on the Calendar is usually only made if there has been objection to a unanimous consent request to proceed to its consideration.

On highly controversial matters, the Senate frequently has to resort to cloture to work its will. Under Rule XXII, if three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn (60 if the Senate is at full membership of 100) vote in the affirmative, further debate on the question shall be limited to no more than one hour for each Senator, and the time for consideration of the matter shall be limited to 30 additional hours, unless increased by another three-fifths vote. On a measure or motion to amend the Senate Rules, it takes two-thirds of the Senators present and voting, a quorum being present, to invoke cloture.

Under Rule VIII, which governs the consideration of bills on the call of the Senate Calendar, there is supposed to be a Calendar call each day at the end of the morning business. Under current practice, however, this very rarely occurs; instead, the Calendar is usually called, if at all, pursuant to a unanimous consent order. Rule VII makes a call of the Calendar mandatory on Monday if the Senate had adjourned after its prior sitting. This requirement may only be waived by unanimous consent, and it has become the regular practice of the leadership to request that the requirement be waived.

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