Considering a bill “under a rule”

46 sec read

For major legislation in the House of Representatives, the House Rules Committee establishes a "rule" or "special rule" that lays out the procedure for consideration of the bill.

The rule typically serves several purposes, as outlined by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service:

  • It makes the measure "privileged" so it can be considered ahead of other business
  • It sets the length of time and leaders for debate
  • It may waive points of order that can be made against the bill
  • It sets the parameters for amendments that can be offered. Under an "open rule", any amendments that meet normal House requirements can be considered; under a "closed rule", no amendments are allowed. The Rules Committee may also propose a rule that falls somewhere in between a totally open or closed rule.

Rules must also be approved by a vote in the House, which is usually the first vote held on any major legislation. As CRS describes, votes on the rule are tyically considered a "party vote" and it is not uncommon that a Member may vote in favor of the rule and against the actual bill itself.

Most non-controversial bills do not come up under a rule but are brought under "Suspension of the Rules."

The Hill 101: What is the Congressional Review Act?

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a legislative Loch Ness monster, much discussed and rarely seen (though the same could be said for motions to...
1 min read

What Happens on the First Day of the New…

The first day of a new Congress follows a well-established schedule, from oaths of office to leadership elections and rule changes. Here is an...
3 min read

10 Things to Know about the First Day of…

10 things you should know about the first day of Congress.
1 min read