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September 19, 2021
 Anthony Sessa
General Chairman
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Legislative Issues for the Working Class
Jan 14, 2010

October 10, 2017 - Delaware tries to usher in Right to Work legislation in Sussex County. Councilman Rob Arlett thinks that right to work for less is a good fit for the county. Labor unions, and possibly the Delaware attorney general, will file suit against Sussex County if it proceeds.

Penn Fed Members supporting Right to Work Is Wrong at Georgetown, Delaware

“Right to work” sounds like a good idea. But in reality, these laws have nothing to do with providing rights or work. Right-to-work laws make it optional for workers protected by a union contract to help pay for the expenses that the union incurs while guaranteeing the rights of all employees. Why is that a big deal? By limiting unions’ resources and weakening the ability of workers to have a say about their jobs, these laws drive down everyone’s wages, benefits, and overall living standards.

Ignoring the facts, corporate-backed politicians are embracing these deceptive policies. They want to make every state a right-to-work state to increase profits for CEOs and hurt efforts to restore balance to our economy. With millions of Americans still unemployed, right to work is an ill-timed distraction from the issues that matter to the middle class—and the wrong choice for our states.

Wrong for workers

    •    These laws drive down wages by $1,500 per year for all workers, including non-union members. 

Wrong for businesses

    •    High-tech companies that provide good-paying, American jobs favor states where unions have a strong presence, because unions provide a stable, high-skilled workforce.

Wrong for the economy

    •    Right to work does not improve the employment rate. In fact, these laws actually lead to a decrease in employment in certain industries.


Right to work is wrong for everyone.



February 2017 - BMWED endorses Larry Krasner for Philadelphia's District Attorney.


"You know, I think it's about envy. I think it's about class warfare. When you have a President encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99% versus 1% -- and those people who have been most successful will be in the 1% -- you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God." - Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate

CAUTION - Video may contain strong language and inconvenient truths 

Ryan Budget Threatens Railroad Retirement
Mitt Romney Applauds Ryan Plan

On March 29, 2012 the U.S. House of Representatives adopted federal budget legislation that would have devastating effects on the retirement security of all active and retired railroad workers. The bill is commonly known as the “Ryan Budget” as it was sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Its formal title is House Concurrent Resolution (H. Con. Res.) 112. The bill passed by a vote  of 228-191, with 10 Republicans joining all of the Democrats in voting against it. Read More...

Mitt Romney said WHAT
Quotes from the leader of the 1%

I’ve taken on union bosses before, and I’m happy to take them on again because I happen to believe that you can protect the interests of American taxpayers, and you can protect a great industry like automobiles without having to give in to the UAW, and I sure won’t,’’ Romney said. Source Article

And we have the following video where television station KSDK in St. Louis took a question from one of their Facebook fans to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The fan asked Romney: What would you cut to trim the defect?

Mitt answered by saying "Of course you get rid of Obama Care, but there are others. Planned Parenthood. The subsidies for Amtrak…I would eliminate that… "

"The subsidies for Amtrak…I would eliminate that… "
Hear it from Mitt's lips

Do we need a president who makes it easier to obtain higher education? Or harder?

The cost of Mitt Romney's higher education was provided by his bourgeois family, including his regular weekend air fare back and forth between home and school.

Voter Registration

Your vote is your power and the working class needs your vote. The 2012 elections will determine your future and the future of the working class.

Listening to the political news over this past year you may have already determined that the Working Class is under attack.

There is an ever-growing movement backed by pending legislation in a multitude of states to restrict worker’s rights to bargain collectively. This legislation threatens our very existence and could ultimately curtail the Working Class. It's our time to become politically active! Cast Your Vote for candidates who support your existence and will fight to secure our future for another century and beyond.

Unions like ours secure the working class. Working people across the country benefit from our unified strength. All sectors benefit from the 40-hour work week and paid overtime that our forefathers fought for. All sectors benefit from the minimum wage standards, paid holidays, sick time, maternity leave, employee rights, and safety and construction standards. ALL of the protections were secured because hard working Americans fought for the right to Bargain Collectively! Unions ended the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude our ancestors experienced in the early 1900’s. For over 100 years, the working class has stood up and voted for candidates who would champion our causes.

Have you moved, changed your address, need to update your voter information? Here's an easy place to do it. Just a few clicks away. Find your state and learn how simple voter registration can be.

Maybe you feel that when it comes down to it, all the candidates are the same, so why bother voting. Even if this is how you truly feel, remember that the winning president-elect may have an enormous impact on our children's future, not just for four years but for 40 years. How? Because with each new president that is elected, there is a chance that a United States Supreme Court Justice will retire. The president alone has the power to nominate a new Justice, and Supreme Court Justices hold office for life. While Congress and the President may pass laws and veto bills, ultimately it is the Supreme Court that interprets the Constitution and consequently determines how each American will live his or her life.

Boehner Rebuffs Report he's lost Confidence in Mica over Transportation Bill
The Hill (blog), March 6, 2012

Congressional Quarterly reported Tuesday that Mica has been removed from control of the transportation bill after the measure has floundered in the House amid complaints from conservatives that it spends too much on roads and bridges, and criticism from Democrats that it does not spend enough.

But a spokesman for Boehner said Tuesday afternoon that the Speaker "continues to have every confidence in Chairman Mica, and totally supports his continuing efforts to pass a transportation bill with key reforms including a link to expanded American energy supply — and no earmarks.” Read More...

Romney Camp Claims GOP Lead Nearly Insurmountable
CNN News, March 7, 2012

The campaign of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney tried Wednesday to put the best possible spin on Super Tuesday's mixed verdict, releasing a memo arguing that it is now nearly impossible for his opponents to catch him in the delegate hunt.

"Super Tuesday dramatically reduced the likelihood that any of Gov. Romney's opponents can obtain the Republican nomination," said Rich Beeson, the campaign's political director. "As Gov. Romney's opponents attempt to ignore the basic principles of math, the only person's odds of winning they are increasing are President Obama's." Read More...

T&I Bill: Lobbying and Lawsuits Behind Move to Strip Worker Protections
Huffington Post February 22, 2012

House Republicans are trying to pass a transportation bill that would strip certain workers of their minimum-wage and overtime protections. As it turns out, several of the companies that would benefit from the change have recently been sued by their employees for allegedly violating wage laws. Read More...

House Committee Leaders Rake in the Campaing Cash from the Industries they Regulate
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) November 16, 2011

Released a report showing the chairs and ranking members of many House committees amass significant campaign contributions from the industries they monitor and regulate. These lawmakers also vote in support of their industry benefactors with alarming regularity Read More...

Public Pays Price for Privatization
Matt Stoller, POLITICO June 8, 2011

"Privatization takes inherently governmental functions - everything from national defense to mass transit and roads - and turns them over to the control of private actors, whose goal is to extract maximum revenue while costing as little as possible. Read More...

IBT Update on the ongoing efforts in Madison, Wisconson and throughout the state.
James P. Hoffa, March 10, 2011

Last night, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican leaders proceeded to enact their plan to destroy unions in the state of Wisconsin. While the Democratic Senate caucus remained out of state to prevent Republicans from passing Walker’s initial budget adjustment bill, Republican leaders separated the financial components of the proposal and moved forward with the union-busting language. Read More...

IBT Legislative Updates for January 2011
Prepared by Christy Bailey and Lisa Kinard

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on hours of service requirements for commercial truck drivers. In accordance with the timeline mandated by a court settlement, FMCSA must publish a final rule by July 26, 2011. The current proposed rule would do the following: maintain the 34-hour restart provision allowing drivers to restart their weekly clocks after 34 consecutive hours off, but require that this restart period include at least two midnight to 6 am off-duty periods and that drivers only be allowed to use the restart provision once in a 7 day period; require drivers to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday... Read More...

Archived IBT Legislative Updates

Protecting Workers as Passenger Rail is Expanded
Policy Statement from the Transportation Trades Division (TTD) of the AFL-CIO

September 22, 2010 - As states expand commuter rail and prepare for the implementation of high speed rail projects, these initiatives must create and sustain good jobs and comply with federal railroad statutes.  We reject efforts by states and private sector operators to structure their operations with the deliberate goal of evading federal rail laws and the protections they afford to rail employees.  Additionally, workers who perform construction work on these initiatives funded by the federal government must be covered by federal prevailing wage requirements. Read More

Eisenhower Once Noted "A Few Texas Oil Millionaires" Wanted to Abolish Social Security

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower (republican) 1952

Did Ike really say this?  Read More on, and then Read More about the right-wing agenda for raising the retirement age or eliminating Social Security.

House Democrats Offer Plausible Scenario
Party Strategists Argue They Can Hold the Majority in a Tough Environment, and They Might Be Right

Democratic strategists see a path to retaining their House majority. To do so, they are aiming to pick off four seats held by Republicans, two open and two held by incumbents; then hold onto at least eight of their most endangered 16 open seats; and keep their incumbent losses down to less than 35 -- two-thirds of the Democratic incumbents in competitive districts, or just over 40 percent of the number if you include those who are potentially endangered. Read More...

FedEx Drivers Aren't Pilots
International Brotherhood of TEAMSTERS

FedEx Express wants Congress to think its truck drivers are actually airline pilots.  Why?  Because the company doesn't believe it should have to be subjected to the same rules and regulations that all other package delivery companies follow.

2.4 Million U.S. Jobs Lost Since 2001 as Trade Deficit Soars
Massive U.S. Job Loss to China Trade shown by State and Congressional District

The United States is hemorrhaging millions of jobs as a result of the nation’s growing trade deficit, largely with China, according to a report issued today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Contrary to conventional wisdom, high-tech industries are losing jobs faster than any other sector of the economy, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) pointed out. Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, 2.4 million jobs have been lost or displaced in the United States as a result of the burgeoning trade deficit with that nation, the report concludes. Read More...

Obama's Unbelievable Winning Streak
June 29, 2010 ~ Peter Beinart

So he hasn’t plugged the leak, and his poll numbers are sagging. Truth is, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Clinton and Carter achieved in a combined 12 years. I know this is supposed to be Barack Obama’s summer of discontent. The oil spill is still gushing; the economy is still floundering; the Afghan war is deteriorating; Americans don’t find him so charming anymore. But have you noticed that when it comes to actual policy, he keeps racking up the wins?  Read More...

The Rise of Women
June 10, 2010 ~ Lou Cannon

Entering the tumultuous primary season, the respected political analyst Charlie Cook speculated that 2010 might be the year of the "angry white senior." Although there are certainly plenty of angry men around, the results of last Tuesday's primaries suggest that this may turn out to be the year of the angry (and determined) female Republican candidate. Read More...

Rail Workers Win "Genuine" Whistleblower Protection from FEDS
March 2, 2010 ~ Press Release from BMWED-IBT

After months of discussions with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) has helped obtain “strong” whistleblower protection for its members and “all railroad workers nationwide,” according to the union. Read More...

Numbers Don't Lie - In October 2008, Democrats worked with the Bush Administration in a good faith effort to pass legislation to prevent the economy from collapsing into a depression. In February 2009, Democrats worked with President Obama to enact recovery legislation to begin the long process of repairing our damaged economy and creating jobs. Read More from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD-D).

Study Says Antiunion Tactics Are Becoming More Common
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE - The New York Times May 19, 2009

A new study by a Cornell University professor of 1,004 union organizing drives has found that employers threatened to close plants in 57 percent of the campaigns and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 47 more

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Transportation Weekly. Deadlines for Transportation Funding Apportioned to States and Localities. “Use It Or Lose It” Deadlines For Transportation Stimulus Funding. A schedule of all of the transportation  “use it or lose it” dates appears on page 12 of this issue.

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The Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is legislation which aims to "amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes."

Under current labor law, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will certify a union as the exclusive representative of employees if it is elected by either a majority signature drive, the card check process, or by secret ballot NLRB election, which is held if more than 30% of employees in a bargaining unit sign statements asking for representation by a union. If enacted, this bill would require the NLRB to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, the card check process.

Pursuant to the bill, a union can demand that an employer begin bargaining within 10 days of certification of the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for an appropriate unit of employees via the card check. In addition, if the union and employer cannot agree upon the terms of a first collective bargaining contract within 90 days, either party can request federal mediation, which could lead to binding arbitration if an agreement still cannot be reached after 30 days of mediation.

Where government arbitration determines terms of the agreement, employees would lose their current right to ratify the terms of the agreement. Finally, the Act would provide for liquidated damages of three times back pay if employers were found to have unlawfully terminated pro-union employees. The EFCA also would impose a $20,000.00 penalty upon employers for each employer violation of the proposed legislation if the NLRB and/or a court deems the violation willful or repetitive.

read more about the Employee Free Choice Act

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Why Vote?

...Because it is your fundamental right as an American, and the most basic means by which you have a voice in how your government works. Voting is an essential part of democracy. It is every American citizen's right to be able to voice their opinion and take part in electing public officials. By voting, people take a stand and help decide who represents them and how their government works. Also, citizens not only have rights, but with these rights come responsibilities. Citizenship means participating in the political process by being an informed and active member of society.

Voting rights have come a long way. The first presidential election in 1789 only allowed white males who owned property to vote. After a long struggle for equal rights, African Americans, Hispanics, women and others have been granted their right to vote and fully participate in government.

Today, any U.S. citizen 18 years old or older can legally vote. However, in the 2004 presidential election only 55% of the voting population actually voted. This is troubling given the fact that each vote often does count and can make a difference in who is elected to office.

It is easy to register to vote and the process of actually casting a vote in an election is just as easy. One does not need to take or pass a test, pay a fee, drive a long distance, or set aside more than a few minutes in order to vote. Registering to vote and voting are quick and easy, and there are even individuals whose job it is (along with countless volunteers) to assist you in both tasks. The same can be said of learning about the issues and staying informed.

Visit our voter registration information

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"An Injury To One Is An Injury To All"

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May 28, 2011
Jan 27, 2010

An Appeal To Reason
Jed Dodd, May, 2011

House Republicans Demand Public Transportation Dollars for Their Private Sector Sponsors. The case for passenger rail service, both high speed rail and conventional intercity passenger service is now self evident. Existing modes of transportation currently consume more than two thirds of our nation’s oil supply and are responsible for nearly a third of our carbon dioxide emissions. Despite echoes to the contrary from the decedents of the flat earth society, global warming threatens the future of the earth and there is a limit to the amount of oil and carbon based fuel that can be extracted from the ground. Read More...

LaHood designates NEC as 11th Corridor, Amtrak now can Directly Apply for HSR Funds
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood designated the Northeast Corridor (NEC) as the 11th and final high-speed rail corridor. The designation includes the existing NEC main rail line, as well as any alternative routings for rail service between the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. Read More...

Panel Holds Hearing on Increasing Private Sector Participation in Passenger Rail Service
March 11, 2011

Washington, D.C. – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials today held a hearing on finding ways to encourage and increase private sector participation in passenger rail service. Read More...

USDOT to Use Competitive Grant Process to Redistribute Florida Funds
March 11, 2011

Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will launch a competitive grant process so states can apply for the $2.4 billion in high-speed stimulus funds that were rejected by the state of Florida. 

USDOT will use a “merit-driven process” to award the funds to projects that can “deliver public and economic benefits quickly,” according to a prepared statement. Among the selection criteria: a project’s ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region’s overall transportation network and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor. Applications are due April 4. 

“The Obama Administration’s bold high-speed rail plan will create jobs, reinvigorate our manufacturing sector and spur economic development for years to come,” LaHood said. “States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars and to deliver all of its economic benefits to their citizens.”

Bill would Slash Funding for Amtrak, Transit Programs
Progressive Railroading

Last month, members of Congress proposed to reduce national debt by cutting funds from a range of federal programs. The legislation caused an uproar in the transit community, as it proposes to cut $2 billion in New Starts funding, $1.5 billion in Amtrak subsidies, $2.5 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger-rail grants, and $150 million in Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority subsidies annually. The bill also calls for repealing unspent stimulus funds, which would affect high-speed rail.

American Public Transportation Association officials called the bill "ill conceived and short sighted," and Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO leaders said the proposal was "reckless." Amtrak, President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said eliminating federal investment for the intercity railroad would "deprive our nation of a critical transportation choice." Read More...

Proposed Cuts Would Curtail Plans for Obama’s High-Speed Rail Initiative
By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff

Feb. 9, 2011 - Republican budget cutters are aiming to halt President Obama’s high-speed passenger rail initiative, proposing to slice $1 billion from the account in the current fiscal year.

High-speed rail has been a signature issue for the president, who vowed in last month’s State of the Union address to bring 80 percent of Americans access to fast trains within 25 years. Earlier this week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled a $53 billion plan for high-speed rail investments over the next six years, including $8 billion in fiscal 2012. Read More...


House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing
January 27, 2011

On Thursday, January 27, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., Grand Central Station, Northeast Balcony, New York City, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met to receive testimony regarding developing true high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor. The hearing highlighted the importance of high speed rail to economic development; opportunities and incentives for private sector investment in the Northeast Corridor; and the need for competition and public private partnerships. Immediately following, T&I Committee members participated in an Read More...

No More Taxpayer Cash for High-Speed Rail
U.S.Rep. Mica and Gov. Scott will Support High-Speed Rail if Business Pays

A consensus may be forming -- which includes Gov. Rick Scott -- that a long-proposed Tampa to Orlando bullet train should roll if private businesses wants to pay for the remainder of the ride.

The new Central Florida-based chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee told a rail panel Tuesday in Jacksonville that the new governor would support the train if the state did not have to pay anything more than the about $2.4 billion it will receive for the project from the federal government. Read More...

High Speed Rail Plan Released
September 2010

The Federal Railroad Administration has released the highly anticipated National Rail Plan that will lay the foundation for a national high speed rail network across America.  A joint effort of the Federal Railroad Administration and the Department of Transportation, the report is the first comprehensive look at rail in America and how important it will be to the future.

From the report:  "The United States and world economies are experiencing an increased demand for rail.  Expanding U.S. passenger and freight mobility will require a networked railroad system that is able to modernize and increase capacity.  With an estimated U.S. population growth of 70 million people over the next 25 years, mostly centered in metropolitan regions, a national rail plan is needed to ensure a coordinated and intelligent system that provides safe, reliable, and efficient passenger and freight rail service."

Download Report

BMWED Position on High-Speed Rail

The Teamster Rail Conference supports the development of high-speed rail in America and believes the jobs created by high-speed rail must be safeguarded for railroad workers and as such must be covered by all federal laws pertaining to railroad carriers. Laws like the RLA (Railway Labor Act), FELA (Federal Employers Liability Act), and the Railroad Retirement Act.

The workers currently employed on our nation’s railroads are among the most highly skilled and trained in the world because they are covered by a host of federal laws, promulgated to ensure the safety of the industry. To ensure the safety of high-speed rail, any system built must be considered a railroad carrier under the law, so that federal law protects the workers and the communities’ high-speed rail runs through.

Safety will be the key to any high-speed corridor, and the BMWED and BLET believe that any high-speed train that runs in this nation must have a certified and trained locomotive engineer in its cab to ensure its safe operation.

One of the ways to ensure that railroad workers do high-speed rail work is through an amendment to the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act. This amendment would both address the problems when states (and others) acquiring lines that are intrastate, but part of the interstate system, such as Florida, New Mexico and Massachusetts; the creation of new lines crossing state borders but not connected to the general system of rail transportation like the proposed Anaheim-Las Vegas line; and high speed rail.

The amendment would make these lines rail carriers under the law and would ensure railroad workers receive the benefits outlined by law.

July 29, 2010 Amtrak President Joe Boardman's letter to US Congressional Representatives discussing a proposed ammendment to eliminate $1.2 billion in capital funding to Amtrak. Read letter, then contact your representative urging them not to support this ammendment.

January 27, 2010 High-Speed Rail Awards region by region, showing Route, estimated potential funding, and a description of what that funding will buy.

Beyond the Motor City - High-Speed Rail
PBS Reports on America's Infrastructure ~BluePrint America

A national high-speed rail plan was put forward by President Barack Obama in April 2009, just months after he set aside $8 billion in stimulus funds to begin such an undertaking. But, already, forty states and the District of Columbia have requested over $100 billion for high-speed train projects.

Though any state can ask for funding, the administration has identified 10 potential high-speed rail corridors: California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, the Gulf Coast,
Florida, a Southeast corridor, the Northeast Corridor, the “Keystone Corridor” through Pennsylvania, the “Empire Corridor” through New York, and a Midwest hub centered in Chicago. Anyone outside these regions will be hard-pressed for high-speed rail dollars.

That $8 billion is going to have to go a long way as, for example, building a system in California — the state furthest along in high-speed rail planning with construction set to start as soon as next year — will cost $42.6 billion alone (up from $33.6 billion just a year ago).

In addition to the stimulus investment, Congress has approved $2.5 billion more in high-speed rail funding for the annual federal budget this year. Still, that is budget to budget, year to year support for projects that take 10 to 20 years to build. And, if a system is implemented nationally, it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars — not counting inflation over the decades it will take to build. Read More...

Missouri should get on track with high-speed rail
By R. Hunter Biden, former Vice-Chairman of Amtrak’s Board of Directors

January 25, 2010 - In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, railroad pioneers laid out tracks that galvanized Missouri. Today, Missouri is helping lay the groundwork for high-speed rail, which promises to be the greatest advancement in our country’s transportation network since we built our interstate highways. Like the interstate, high-speed rail will boost our mobility and productivity. Read More...

High-Speed Rail a Clean Win for Commuters
By John D. Porcani, US Deputy Secretary of Transportation

December 23, 2009 - By John D. Porcari, US Deputy Secretary of Transportation - As Americans travel this holiday season, many will be frustrated by long lines at airports and congestion on the roadways, caused by years of neglect to our national infrastructure. President Obama has an ambitious plan to fix these problems, which includes the creation of a nationwide network of high-speed and intercity passenger rail routes. To advance this goal, the president made an $8 billion down payment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and proposed another $1 billion for each of the next five years. Nearly 40 states have applied for this money. Read More...

Vision For High-Speed Rail in America
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary of Transportation

April 2009 - (1.4mb) In the 20th century, the United States built highway and aviation networks that transformed the country – fueling unprecedented economic expansion, fostering new communities and connecting cities, towns and regions.  Strong public-sector leadership along with private industry partnerships were the lynchpins to that success.  States forged the path by identifying the needs and investing in key portions of the system, private industry brought innovation and resources, and the Federal Government provided an integrating vision, the policy roadmap and a funding framework that enabled the realization of a national system. Read More...

High-Speed Rail: A National Perspective
High-Speed Rail Experience in the United States

December 2008 - (1.9mb) A report prepared for National Railroad Passenger Corporation by Cambridge Systematics, Inc. with SYSTRA Consulting, Inc. Amtrak commissioned this study to help identify the trends and prospects for improved service – in terms of operating speeds, frequency, and reliability – in rail corridors around the country.  The goal of the study was to produce a summary of the lessons learned from the corridor improvement projects across the country and to develop criteria that might describe corridors most likely to succeed with high-speed rail improvements.  Read More...






Jan 16, 2010

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Everybody In Nobody Out

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The American Healthcare System is Broken

Health care expert and former labor negotiator Mark Dudzic explains the state of health insurance in the United States (hint: it’s lousy). In this video, Brother Dudzic quickly summarizes the problems with our current system. American health insurance costs twice as more than the rest of the industrialized world, covers fewer, and is far more tenuous for the working class. If you lose your job, you lose your coverage. If you get sick and can’t work, you oftentimes lose your coverage. That’s not to mention, the current health insurance you receive through your employer is expensive, and those costs are swiftly being passed on to you.

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Source Materials Provided by:

Runaway Inequality and the Crisis of Healthcare in America

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The Single Payer System Solution

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In this video, Brother Dudzic discusses the plan to treat healthcare like a public good: otherwise known as the Medicare For All solution. Its base point is that a person’s health should be a right of life in a democratized society. “Whether you live in Trump Tower of the dumpster underneath Trump Tower, you should be treated the same at the hospital.” Brother Dudzic further delves into the costs of Med4All and how moving to a just and equitable system is something that is long overdue.

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Taking Healthcare Off the Bargaining Table

The cost of bargaining over health insurance has become unsustainable. In this video, Brother Dudzic outlines how having health insurance linked to your employment is an antiquated and unfair system that was only instituted when President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s plan for universal coverage went unfulfilled. Costs of health care have risen twice as fast as wages in this country, which has stagnated wage growth and spending power. No other country in the world treats healthcare as a “benefit” to employment. It is time we take this chip off the bargaining table and, in turn, the leverage that dangling health insurance over our head provides the railroad companies.

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Graph: Healthcare Costs Rise Much Faster than Wages

Graph: Real BMWED Average Rate, Real Rate Adjusted for Health Insurance Contributions and Real Class I RR Net Income

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What the Opposition Will Tell You

In this video, Brother Dudzic dissects some of the most commonly recited speaking points against a Medicare For All system. The health insurance companies are desperate to protect their racket and there is no shortage of fear-mongering they will float for public consumption. From scary price tags, to death panels, to government criticism, to “free loaders,” the crooks at the top of the health insurance pyramid scheme will stop at nothing to protect their sacred cash cow. Brother Dudzic does a fine job of discrediting all their bluster.

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Graph: 38,882 Deaths During in the United States in 2019 Due to Being Uninsured 

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Canadian Healthcare Poll

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How Organized Labor Can Support Single Payer

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So, how can Organized Labor and Union workers help in the fight for affordable and universal healthcare for all Americans? In this video, Brother Dudzic lays out the game plan. It involves putting pressure on our elected representatives through a litany of ways. Resolutions at the local lodge level. Educating our membership. Using every tool in our mobilizing box, from door-to-door canvassing to public demonstrations. Monthly calls to our lawmakers. We need the “people power.” It is our strongest asset and our most-assured way of achieving healthcare as a public right.

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BMWED Resolution In SUPPORT of Rail Labor for Single Payer Healthcare

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How We Will Pay for Single Payer Healthcare

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The $3 trillion-dollar question:  How do we pay for Medicare For All? It’s a fair and important question and one that BMWED Internal Organizing Coordinator Carey Dall succinctly deduces in this video. Using the revenue flows that are included in the House bill currently on the floor of Congress, Brother Dall walks us through what it would look like for the average BMWED railroader and explains how, at the end of the day, the everyday worker comes out ahead. 

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More and more the people understand how access to healthcare is basic to human dignity. HealthCare.NOW published a flier showing a timeline of healthcare legislation reform and the development of a movement for single-payer healthcare in our country. It’s true that Healthcare reform has been under attack for decades. But why?

The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee access to basic health care for residents. Countries that guarantee health care as a human right do so through a “single-payer” system, which replaces the thousands of for-profit health insurance companies with a public, universal plan.

Does that sound impossible to win in the United States? It already exists - for seniors! Medicare is a public, universal plan that provides health coverage to those age 65 and older. Medicare costs less than private health insurance, provides better financial security, and is preferred by patients. Single-payer health care is often referred to as “Expanded & Improved Medicare for All.”

Under the single-payer legislation in Congress (H.R. 676):

  • Everyone would receive comprehensive healthcare coverage under single-payer;
  • Care would be based on need, not on ability to pay;
  • Employers would no longer be responsible for health care costs and coverage decisions;
  • Single-payer would reduce costs by 24%, saving $829 billion in the first year by cutting administrative waste and allowing negotiation of prescription drugs; and
  • Single-payer would create savings for 95% of the population. Only the top 5% would pay slightly more.


Profits over People: Healthcare Petition Action


Supported and Endorsed by the Pennsylvania Federation BMWED-IBT

Our nation’s healthcare crisis is ruining the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans.  The huge number of uninsured and underinsured families is growing dramatically and, increasingly, members of our unions are joining their numbers.

This crisis intensifies the difficulties of all workers struggling to survive in today’s predatory economic environment.  Shifting the cost of healthcare to workers under the current profit-driven system is a painful feature of virtually every set of contract negotiations these days.  For the vast majority of workers without a union, the situation is even more desperate.  A publicly financed, single-payer national health care system like those in virtually all other industrialized countries is the only solution that will control costs, increase access and improve the quality of care.

The primary purpose of the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care is to increase grassroots labor support for H.R. 676 as an essential element in winning the support of Congress to enact the National Health Care Act “Medicare for All” as the public policy of this country because we believe that health care is a human right.

The Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care is being launched at this critical time as an extension of already existing single payer support among many labor organizations and is intended to increase and help coordinate grassroots labor support for universal, comprehensive, single-payer healthcare as embodied in HR 676, the legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers, and co-sponsored by 92 members in the last Congressional session.

Read More... about the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare

Resolution 21 - "... Be It Resolved, that the delegates assembled at this Twenty Second Regular Quadrennial Convention of the Pennsylvania Federation Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters renew our support for a national single-payer healthcare system and for all legitimate legislative proposals that move us towards such a system and are in accordance with the principles of this Resolution and that we endorse and support the work of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer and will urge the union to do the same." adopted August 5, 2015

As Cadillac Tax Threat Looms, How Can Unions Respond?
November 2, 2015 | Dan DiMaggio

Your employer has already brought it up in bargaining, or else is about to: the health care headache known as the “Cadillac tax.” How hard are unions getting hit—and what can we do about it? Labor Notes interviewed Mark Dudzic, coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer, which just issued a new report on the tax. Download it here.

Turning Chevys Into Cadillacs: The ACA Excise Tax and the Future of Healthcare Bargaining A LCSP Briefing Paper

The term “Cadillac” denotes special privileges and unnecessary luxury. It implies that certain workers receive benefits which are unearned and at the expense of everyone else and that the elimination of these benefits won’t really hurt anyone. Ever since the “welfare Cadillac” slanders of the Reagan era, the term also has unfortunate racial connotations. The implication is that this tax will only affect a bunch of spoiled parasites that had it coming to them.

In reality, the tax will fall heaviest on decent, bread and butter benefits that provide basic security for working class families. It should more aptly be called a “Chevy Tax” because everyone should have one.

It is true that unions have bargained healthcare benefits as part of a total compensation package and have often sacrificed wage gains in order to preserve healthcare benefits for themselves and their families. However, in an era of massive inequality and unrestricted corporate power, it is highly unlikely that most unions will be able to recover these deferred wages. Non-union workers will fare even worse. The more likely outcome is that workers’ pre-tax benefits will be cut while they pay more of their healthcare costs out of their post-tax wages. The tax undermines the 75-year tax deductibility for employer-paid healthcare benefits and reflects the principle that tax policy should be used to provide incentives for desirable social goals. Taxation of health benefits treats healthcare as if it were a privilege and a luxury rather than a necessary right in a civilized society. Read More...

Unions Can Lead the Struggle for Single-Payer Health Care
August 18, 2014 | Kay Tillow  

Despite passage of the 2010 health care reform bill, employers continue to push for cuts in benefits and to shift costs to workers in higher monthly payments, co-pays, and deductibles.

Wage increases are always trumped by this costly health care monster. Some employers, in anticipation of the $2,000 annual fine for not offering health insurance, are threatening to drop coverage and instead pay the cheaper fine.

Many companies are dropping benefits for spouses, retirees, and part-timers. Current law does not stop them. Multiemployer plans are disadvantaged by the preferable treatment available to the plans of non-union employers. The 2018 excise tax will cap the ability to bargain better health benefits. Insurance companies continue to decide what doctors and hospitals workers can use.

Unions are playing in a ball park where the odds are stacked against them, a field dominated by private health insurance companies. Unions need a new arena where they can win the battle, improve coverage, and secure it once and for all.

Read More... and understand how with single payer in effect, unions, including those with multi-employer plans, can use their health care bargaining power to improve pensions, sick pay, and other benefits as well as wages.

Beyond Obamacare:  Why Labor Deserves Better” with Dr. Andrew Coates

Bernie Sanders Introduces Single-Payer Bill in U.S. Senate
December 11, 2013 | By Labor for Single-Payer

On December 9th Senator Bernie Sanders (I., VT) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to provide healthcare to everyone in America through a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system.
“The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee healthcare as a right to its people,” Sanders said. “It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage.” Read More...

Congressman John Conyers Reintroduces Single-Payer Health Care Bill
February 14, 2013 - endorsed by 26 Internation Unions

"Many Americans are frustrated with high out-of-pocket costs, skyrocketing premiums, and many other serious problems that are part and parcel of a health care system dependent on private health insurance plans. H.R. 676 would reform this broken system." Read More...

Healthcare is a Right - Not a Privilege
Sustaining the Movement for the 99%, Statement by Labor Campaign for Single-Payer

This autumn has been witness to an extraordinary moment in American history as the Occupy Wall Street movement swept the nation and gave voice to a widespread anger at corporate greed and raging inequality.   With winter approaching, and more and more cities sending police to physically assault and clear out their outdoor entime to take stock of the achievements and prospects of this movement. Read More...

House Votes to Repeal Obama Healthcare Law
All 242 Republicians Voted to Repeal Healthcare

The House on Wednesday (1/19/2011) voted to repeal the Democrats' landmark healthcare overhaul, in a largely symbolic step that the new Republican majority said marked the beginning of an all-out effort to dismantle President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement. Read More...

No union can bargain without facing a demand or hard choices on health care coverage in our contracts. The absence of a national health care system significantly depresses our members' wages despite the productivity gains their work produces.

March 9, 2010 - Members of the Pennsylvania Federation joined thousands of union members, community activists, religious leaders and others performing a citizens' arrest of the insurance companies as they were meeting in Washington, DC to plot to kill health reform. The boisterous, energetic, diverse crowd marched from the AFL-CIO and AFSCME buildings and DuPont Circle to the sound of beating drums and shouted slogans like, “Blocking health care is a crime” and “Health care can’t wait.” The crowd was so large, it completely encircled the block-long Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C., where the front group for the nation’s biggest insurance companies, the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is meeting. Health Care for America NOW (HCAN) sponsored the rally and march.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid it on the line, telling the crowd: "The insurance companies won’t stop unless we stop them—and we do that by passing health care reform legislation. So today we’re here to put the insurance companies on notice: We will not allow you and your lobbyists to bully Congress into not acting. Not on health care or any of the issues important to America’s working families."

The crowd placed a crime scene tape around the hotel and several leaders and victims of health insurance abuse delivered a “warrant” to the front of the hotel calling for the arrest of the insurance company executives.

We need reform, we need it now, and we won't let their lobbyists or their money stop Congress from passing it. We will fight, and we will win.

January 14, 2010Despite the so-called agreement announced today by various labor organizations, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) reiterated its opposition to any health care reform legislation that is funded by taxing the value of workers’ existing health care benefits. Read More...

January 14, 2010 - Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) initiated a letter to the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House concerning the proposed Senate healthcare excise tax. The good Senator's request for co-signers was met by several reasonable thinking Senate leaders, including both Maryland Senators, New Jersey's senior Senator, Senators from Illinois, New York, Vermont, and others. Make sure you thank your Senator for supporting this important issue. Or share your disappointment in your Senator's failure to support the middle class and workers. Read Senator Sherrod Brown's letter here

January 11, 2010 BMWED President Simpson writes House Speaker Pelosi about the potential defection of BMWED members from the Democratic party if our so-called "Cadillac" health plans are taxed. Read President Simpson's letter here.

October 28, 2009 Teamster President Hoffa's letter to the Senate regarding excise tax on insurance companies who offer comprehensive plans to workers. This notion of taxing health benefits will impact workers, resulting in insurance providers passing on the cost to our members. Read President Hoffa's leter here.

June 16, 2009 BMWED President Simpson writes President Obama in connection with a proposed tax on employer provided healthcare benefits, asking for a veto of any legislation that taxes our benefits. Read President Simpson's letter here.

BMWED correspondence which clearly address the dangers of taxing our healthcare benefits. View a printable version here.

President Obama has created a unique opportunity to transform the health system.  Health care consumers, women and public health advocates know we need an Equitable, Quality, Universal, Affordable health system.  But special interests in D.C. have other ideas.  Sign up to let the President and Congress know we need a publicly financed, publicly administered plan like Medicare.  We'll send the message to them by April 6, when the White House health care forum convenes in Los Angeles.

Support this message by linking to the Center for Policy Analysis site and signing the on-line petition. Ask your friends and colleagues to sign too!

Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Healthcare

Healthcare Is A Right -- Not A Privilege

January 16, 2009 St. Louis – More than 150 union leaders from 31 states gathered in St. Louis last weekend to step up a grassroots campaign to enact comprehensive national healthcare reform.  The group is promoting a single-payer plan, which would work like an improved and expanded Medicare program to cover everyone. The national kick-off meeting was convened by Labor for Single-Payer Healthcare, a campaign spearheaded by scores of trade union organizations.  

The national single-payer bill, HR 676 – expected to be reintroduced in Congress later this month – has been endorsed by 39 state AFL-CIO federations, 100 Central Labor Councils, and more than 400 local unions. The bill has 92 co-sponsors in Congress, more than any other health care reform bill.

For more information visit the Labor For Single Payer web site

Labor's "Medicare for All" Advocates Test Strength
Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes - Yet some major unions that have endorsed single payer, including AFSCME and the Service Employees, in practice are backing plans that would preserve private insurers. Both union federations, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, already have lined up behind compromise plans....Read More

First-of-Its Kind Study:

Single-Payer Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy

2.6 Million New Jobs, $317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wages

Establishing a national single-payer style healthcare reform system would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy by creating 2.6 million new jobs, and infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, with another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study released today.

The number of jobs created by a single-payer system, expanding and upgrading Medicare to cover everyone, parallels almost exactly the total job loss in 2008.

“These dramatic new findings document for the first time that a single-payer system could not only solve our healthcare crisis, but also substantially contribute to putting America back to work and assisting the economic recovery,” said Geri Jenkins, RN, co-president of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, which sponsored the study. read more....


Thirteen years ago Bill Clinton became president partly because he promised to do something about rising health care costs. Although Clinton's chances of reforming the US health care system may have looked good at first, the effort soon ran aground. Since then a combination of factors have kept health care off the top of our nation’s agenda. Like the general distraction of a nation focused first on the gloriousness of getting rich, then on terrorism, now on war and occupation.

Also impeding healthcare for all is the unwillingness of our politicians to confront the insurance lobbies whom so successfully frustrated the Clinton effort. Except for Congressman John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan's 14th District.

Congressman John Conyers has sponsored “The United States National Health Insurance Act, (H.R. 676)”, and on August 8, 2007 the Pennsylvania Federation proudly adopted Resolution Nineteen endorsing a national single payer health care system in general and H.R. 676 in particular, urging the union to fight for its creation.

If passed, H.R.676 would cover every person in the United States for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), visioncare, chiropractic and long term care. H.R.676 ends deductibles and co-payments.  H.R.676 would save billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.


“The union movement must marshal its resources for a renewed all-out assault to end the current health care crisis.... There is no institution in America better suited or better able to take on this task.”

AFL-CIO Executive Council statement, August 2002

It is important for our members to educate themselves on how the passage of this bill will not only enrich the lives of the working class, but also benefit America as a nation. When candidates ask for our vote, intelligently ask them how they are going to address America’s healthcare crisis. And if they don't have a plan, we can tell them ours; H.R.676.

Ask yourself why 15,000 of our nations doctors and medical professionals have formed Physicians for a National Health Program? PNHP is the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program., a project of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee is a leading national advocate for universal healthcare reform, through a single-payer style system based on an improved and expanded Medicare for all. One of the fastest growing health care organizations in the U.S., presently having 75,000 members in all 50 states, representing nurses at scores of hospitals, clinics, and home health agencies.

Also visit H.R., The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance and Unions For Single Payer H.R.676.

Something Stinks with our American HealthCare System

While some Americans have health insurance through their employers, employment is no longer a guarantee of health insurance coverage. As America continues to move from a manufacturing based economy to a service economy, and employee-working patterns continue to evolve, health insurance coverage in the United States has become less stable. The service sector offers less access to health insurance than its manufacturing counterparts. Further, an increasing reliance on part-time and contract workers who are not eligible for coverage means fewer workers have access to employer-sponsored health insurance.

Due to rising health insurance premiums, many small American employers cannot afford to offer health benefits. Companies that do offer health insurance often require employees to contribute a larger share toward their coverage. As a result, an increasing number of Americans have opted not to take advantage of job-based health insurance because they cannot afford it, effectively denying them coverage. The number of these working poor combined with the over 50 million Americans who have absolutely no healthcare coverage at all creates a healthcare crisis in America.

The United States has by far the most expensive health care system in the world, both on a per-capita basis and as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. This high price tag is attributed to the rising costs of medical technology and prescription drugs and the enormous administrative costs resulting from the complex multiple payer system. The huge gap in administrative costs between the U.S. and other nation’s single-payer systems arise from their differing mechanisms of paying for health care.  While other nations, such as Canada and Germany, have a single insurance plan, or “single-payer”, where each province pays the bills for everyone, the U.S. has a complex and fragmented payment structure built around thousands of different insurance plans, each with its own regulations on coverage, eligibility, and documentation.

The U.S. wastes more on health care bureaucracy than it would cost to provide health care to all of the uninsured. A single payer national health insurance system could garner these massive administrative savings, allowing universal coverage without any increase in total health spending.

Take a minute to watch this video, brought to you by our union friends across the northern border, the CWA-Canada*. Send this link to family and friends. America is in a healthcare crisis and it stinks.

*In 2007, CWA|SCA Canada became the new name of the country's oldest media union. Formerly known as TNG Canada/CWA, their new moniker contains bilingual initials (SCA stands for Syndicat des communications d’Amérique) and reflects their elevated, autonomous position within the Communications Workers of America.

Senator Barack Obama on Healthcare

During the Presidential debate last night Barack Obama firmly communicated why he thinks healthcare is not a privilege but a right. Citing a difficult moment in his own life, Obama spoke of his mother who, when diagnosed with cancer, found herself fighting her insurance company to prove her sickness was not a "pre-existing condition." "In a country as wealthy as ours," Obama said, "for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills...there's something fundamentally wrong with that." more

Wonder Why The Cost of Health Care Is So High?

MINNEAPOLIS -- William McGuire is going to be OK, according to this Associated Press report. UnitedHealth Group Inc. will pay its departing chief $5.1 million a year for the rest of his life and a $6.5 million lump sum, according to a calculation of his severance benefits by The Corporate Library, a watchdog group that has criticized McGuire's pay before.

He also has stock options that were worth $1.78 billion as of the end of 2005.

McGuire has agreed to retire by Dec. 1, and he stepped down as chairman Sunday. The move came after a company-sponsored investigation determined that many company stock options were backdated to make them more favorable for recipients, including McGuire, other executives and thousands of UnitedHealth employees.

McGuire's 1999 employment contract, which has been amended since then, has been criticized as too generous, but the severance provisions came into sharper focus on Monday now that he is leaving.

In mid-April, McGuire asked the company's board to stop issuing new stock options to him and some other senior managers, to cap an executive retirement plan and to get rid of noncash perks. The company said in May that those changes had been adopted, although no amendments to McGuire's employment agreement were filed. Company spokesman Mark Lindsay did not return phone messages.

McGuire's base salary was $2.3 million a year, but he cleared more than $100 million in years that he cashed in stock options.

On Sunday, UnitedHealth said McGuire would reprice his options to the highest point in the year they were granted.

(The preceding Associated Press report was published by the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2006.)

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 "An Injury To One Is An Injury To All"

Aug 14, 2011
Ban Fracking for Natural Gas, Stop Corporate Rape of our Earth, Support Renewable and Sustainable Energy Policies
Jan 16, 2010

camp car – noun - a railroad car used as a dormitory for construction and maintenance workers.

Railroad camp cars date back to the 19th Century. By the 1980’s, most railroads began phasing out camp cars in favor of hotels and motels. By the 1990’s, every railroad except Norfolk Southern (NS), which operates in 22 states, completely removed camp cars from use. The NS camp cars became outdated with dismal living conditions. BMWED has been forced to seek relief through state legislatures and Congress. With help from the IBT Rail Conference, old statutes have been revised and new codes have been enacted Legislation has been introduced in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Railroad Safety and Improvement Act of 2008 requires minimum standards by December 31, 2010.

October 31, 2011 Camp Car Atrocities Moving Closer to Closure. The Final Rule on campcars is published. We've quickly reviewed the final rule and it appears that FRA adopted a number of BMWED comments, including requirements for potable water for the washing of persons, increase in square foot requirements from 50 to 80 SF, Max 4 occupants per car,  prohibitions against multi-level bunk beds, hot potable water in lavatory sinks, improved sanitation provisions, provisions for clean linens,  at 24 hours repair/remediation window for non-compliant conditions, smoke alarms and CO2 alarms, first aid kits, fire extingushers, emergency information postings, limitations on placement of cars in vicinity of switching/humping operations and other items.

Additional information is forthcoming.

March 11, 2011 - The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) of the Teamsters Rail Conference submits these comments to the docket in the above- referenced matter. BMWED is a railroad labor organization representing approximately 35,000 maintenance of way (MW) employees who build, repair, inspect and maintain railroad tracks, bridges, buildings and related infrastructure on all Class 1 freight railroads, Amtrak, and numerous commuter, regional and short-line railroads. As such, BMWED and its members have a direct and vested interest in this rule making related to camp car safety and health requirements. Read More...

January 3, 2011 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Federal Register, Vol. 76, No.1, Safety and Health Requirements Related to Camp Cars

BMWED Resolution requesting  the  National  Division  President, National  Division  Officers,  and  all  parties  involved  in  negotiating  with  any  railroad company,  which  still  utilizes  camp  car/trailer  facilities,  to  actively  pursue agreements which would permanently eliminate the use of camp cars/trailers for lodging our members.

Norfolk Southern Living Quarters Questioned in Virginia's General Assembly
March 2, 2010

You've probably seen them along Norfolk Southern tracks in western Virginia: the mobile camps where maintenance crews stay while they're on the job.

Tuesday in Richmond, members of a General Assembly committee considered whether the state should regulate the living conditions there.

Norfolk Southern has more than 200 of the mobile camp cars.

A representative of the railroad says they're especially useful in rural parts of southwest Virginia.

But union members have complained of cramped quarters, inadequate sanitation and sub-standard cooking facilities.

"We're talking about having a bed, having a place to sleep, having some water so you can wash your face," says Del. Johnny Joannou/(D) Portsmouth.

"I will tell you there was no barracks that I ever lived in, whether it was Virginia Military Institute, or while I was in the Marine Corps that would have passed these standards. And when I was in a submarine we could have failed on a variety of levels. There are all sorts of requirements, very specific details that are going to cost money to comply with," says Del. Bill Janis/(R) Glen Allen.

Norfolk Southern says it spent more than $6 million to retro-fit the camp cars in 2008 and 2009.

Committee members are concerned that new federal regulations due out this year would override any state standards.

The Commerce and Labor Committee defeated the bill, but Portsmouth Senator Louise Lucas said she'll be back if the new federal regulations fail to fix the issue.

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Virginia General Assembly begins steps to end Camp Car horrors, passage of Virginia Senate Bill No. 33

October 29, 2008 Camp Car language in Public Law 110-432 – Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008

Fall 2007 - TEAMSTER Camp Car Flyer attacking the living conditions of housed maintenance of way workers.

September 19, 2007 BMWED response to Norfolk Southern's VP Blake regarding his bullshit over the Camp Car issue



Mar 13, 2010

Democrat, Republican, Independent Voter Education

D.R.I.V.E. is the BMWED-IBT political action committee. Your contribution will support grassroots action by BMWED families to stand up to special interests interests.

The Big Railroads spend big money in Washington to influence members of Congress and push their anti-worker plans. They outspend working families on politics by more than 15-1. In the last election cycle, Union Pacific donated a whopping $2,444,993 to federal candidates. BNSF threw in $2,590,882. CSX and Norfolk Southern donated $1,256,931 and $1,273,796 respectively.

Despite this eye popping spending by the Big Railroads, through aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill and in State Houses and City Halls across America, our union worked to stop some of the worst attacks on our members. Congress and state legislatures increasingly control vital aspects of the railroad industry and our profession. We must support those in elected office that support us, on issues that are important to us, and to our families.


The Big Railroads are pushing their agenda harder than ever. That means we have to fight back stronger than ever. Unions cannot just react when important issues arise. We must get in the game early and help set the agenda. D.R.I.V.E. helps elect and retain elected officials who share our concerns.

You can take a stand for working families by contributing to D.R.I.V.E. – the Maintenance of Way political action committee. Your contribution will support grassroots action by  BMWED families to stand up to Big Railroad interests.

And your membership to D.R.I.V.E. will help elect political candidates who care about working people. Contributions to D.R.I.V.E. support the fight on Capitol Hill for issues that impact your job, your family and your future.

  • Railroad Retirement and our struggle to preserve this constantly attacked system.
  • Federal Employers' Liability Act and our ability to seek compensation if we become injured while on the job.
  • Railroad Security and Safety
  • Amtrak Funding and High Speed Rail initiatives which provide jobs and job security for BMWED members.


Laws prohibit the use of union dues for political purposes. Your voluntary BMWED contribution fills this gap enabling us to help those who share our interest on the state and national level.


Your contribution is divided evenly between a national fund and a fund overseen by your State Legislative Board Chairman, who coordinates contributions to candidates on the state level, as well as recommending contributions for federal candidates.


D.R.I.V.E. also works for our retired members and their spouses. We're working to protect you interests on matters related to Railroad Retirement, survivors benefits, and other timely issues.

Think about it:

$5 a month is the price of a cheap lunch, a few cups of coffee, a magazine, or a few lotto tickets. $10 is the price of a movie. $20 and $50 dollars is a tremendous shot in the arm for our folks fighting for Railroad Workers.

Sign up for D.R.I.V.E. here

History of D.R.I.V.E.

In 1959, The Teamsters recognized the need to develop comprehensive legislative and political programs within the union following the passage of the Landrum-Griffin bill and other anti-labor legislation.

In November of that year, James R. Hoffa established the Department of Legislation and Political Education. Hoffa called for the department to develop a political action program with member support. D.R.I.V.E. -- Democratic, Republican, Independent Voter Education -- is born.

Officially launched in 1960, D.R.I.V.E. has two main objectives:

  • To elect candidates to public office who are friendly to the interests of Teamster members;
  • Passage or defeat of legislation of special concern to Teamster families.

D.R.I.V.E. committees are formed to meet those goals through activities such as screening and recommending favorable candidates, launching registration drives and developing plans for get-out-the-vote campaigns in primary and general elections.

Funding is strictly voluntary and kept separate from dues.

Teamster Women Take the Wheel

Sid Zagri, D.R.I.V.E.'s first director, quickly realizes that one of the best resources the union has is wives and women members, who had a long history as political organizers. He develops a partnership with Josephine Hoffa, wife of the General President, to create a women's auxiliary political action program. The ultimate goal was to have a major auxiliary in every Joint Council and make each D.R.I.V.E. unit a political force at the precinct and block level.

Mrs. Hoffa had seen her husband and others physically beaten and subjected to unfair court battles as they tried to improve workers lives. She knew unions could only hold on against tough odds by active participation and constant vigilance. She was one of the first to see that political action was the best defense against the erosion of worker rights in the 1950's.

"Labor's enemies don't stop for lunch -- so neither can we," she said.

She knew taking on a task like D.R.I.V.E. was not for the faint hearted. Many women seemed to not care at all about political issues. Many did not even vote.

She traveled from city to city in 1960 and early 1961 attending rallies that only a handful of people would attend. She and her family were subjected to negative editorials and nasty editorial cartoons for her actions, but she never stopped trying to create D.R.I.V.E. groups.

"Labor unions were not built by men and women who got their feelings hurt or quit after the first disappointment," she said.

On April 9, 1961, James R. Hoffa conducted the largest telephone conference to date, speaking with more than 1 million members. His message about D.R.I.V.E. and encouragement for women's committees was wired into meeting halls and theatres in more than 170 cities.

Finally, the tide began to turn. By 1963 the numbers of attendees at her rallies and luncheons ranged from 1,200 to 5,000.

D.R.I.V.E. in Action

Mrs. Hoffa's efforts also included the "D.R.I.V.E. in Action" program, which included DRIVE magazine, issue specific political action kits, letter writing campaigns and political action training programs.

Included in the activities kits were the "DRIVE Goes to a Party" hostess packets. Teamster women were asked to host neighborhood parties and talk about the goals of D.R.I.V.E. -- and discuss issues relating directly to their families and communities.

They then would teach friends and neighbors at the party how to get voter registration drives and other activities started in their wards and precincts.

The party idea was very well received by D.R.I.V.E. members and the parties were successful in neighborhoods across the country.
Mrs. Hoffa's most important achievement was the D.R.I.V.E. motorcades held throughout the 1960s.

Between 1962 and 1968, more than 15,000 women delegates from Teamster joint councils, state conferences and auxiliaries -- women of all races, and from different neighborhoods and states -- boarded buses and traveled for hours to speak with their senators and representatives about labor and social justice issues.

When they returned home, the women visited schools, churches and even went house to house to talk about the experience and give an evaluation of how well the politicians understood or were meeting local community needs.

Earning Respect

At first leaders on Capitol Hill brushed off the women, but later came to respect their dedication and knowledge.

Senator Hubert Humphrey said he had never seen a more effective political action program than the Teamster women's motorcades.

The women also were not shy about holding senators and representatives accountable for their campaign promises. Especially daunting for the politicians were the Teamster "Scoring banquets" held in Washington. D.R.I.V.E. delegates would get up one at a time and rate politicians' voting records -- often with the spotlighted senator or congressman seated at the table. The press loved the events and attended in large numbers.

D.R.I.V.E. quickly became one of the strongest political action groups in the country and remains so today.
A 1963 Business Week magazine quotes an anti-labor congressman as saying: "We may not like those D.R.I.V.E. women, but they are effective."

The D.R.I.V.E. message soon becomes known as "The Great Conversation" on Capitol Hill. The issues raised by "The Great Conversation" soon become topics of discussion in policy meetings during the Johnson administration and many are adopted by President Johnson's "Great Society."

Changes in the workforce, deregulation and economic hard times led to a drop in D.R.I.V.E. Motorcades and other activities, but the program kept going despite the difficulties.

Teamsters still fight anti-labor legislation through D.R.I.V.E. and work hard to protect all working families. The Teamsters have honed their political skills greatly in the decades since D.R.I.V.E. was formed and have become a leading voice for workers in Washington. But, D.R.I.V.E stays true to its principles and still depends on voluntary member support for funding; it still uses rank-and-file grassroots activities to achieve its goals.

Sign up for D.R.I.V.E.

Feb 03, 2010

EFCA News articles are posted at the bottom of this page.

January 4, 2009 The Pennsylvania Federation BMWED-IBTproudly participates in the rally supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. Joined by several politicans and thousands of union workers from both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, we braved the cold outside the U.S. Capital and ultimately delivered our message and petition that included 1.5 million signed cards to the halls of Congress and our representatives. Thanks to those Penn Fed members who helped kick off this important push towards the freedom to form unions.

Watch the short video provided by our friends, the Transport Workers Union of America

Employee Free Choice Act Rally from TWU on Vimeo

Employee Free Choice Act efca_logo

What is The Employee Free Choice Act?

The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 560, S. 1409), supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would enable working people to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by restoring workers’ freedom to choose for themselves whether to join a union. It would:

  • Establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights when workers seek to form a union and during first-contract negotiations.

  • Provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes.

  • Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.

The System for Forming Unions is Broken

Today, CEOs get contracts that protect their wages and benefits. But some deny their employees the same opportunity. Although U.S. and international laws are supposed to protect workers' freedom to belong to unions, employers routinely harass, intimidate, coerce and even fire workers struggling to gain a union so they can bargain for better lives. And U.S. labor law is powerless to stop them. Employees are on an uneven playing field from the first moment they begin exploring whether they want to form a union, and the will of the majority often is crushed by brutal management tactics.

Cornell University scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner studied hundreds of organizing campaigns and found that:

  • Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.

  • Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.

  • Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.

  • In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.

  • Even after workers successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers do not negotiate a contract

What Can I Do?

You can start by calling your Congressman and Senator and voicing your support for the Employee Free Choice Act. Here's a "Call Script" to guide you in making those calls. Ask your union brothers and sisters, coworkers, family and friends to call too.

You can follow-up you calls to Senators and Congressmen with a written letter, mailed and faxed to their respective offices. Here's a sample letter.

You can respond to your local media when they report that the Employee Free Choice Act would strip workers of the right of a secret ballot. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You can write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspapers or call into talk radio programs disputing their claims. Here's a sample.

You can send a newsletter to your members and to your organizations affiliates. Here's a sample.

You can familiarize yourself with these Talking Points regarding the Employee Free Choice Act.

You can review these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Employee Free Choice Act.

You can be one in a million voices advocating passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. We want to gather signatures and photos in support of this bill -- 1 million voices calling for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Help us reach our goal of 1 million signatures—sign the petition today.

If you haven't already, you can register to vote.

For distribution at Local meetings, in your community, and anywhere it might draw favorable attention:

  • You can download and print this flyer on Employor Interference.

  • You can download and print this Spread the Word flyer.

You can take action by clicking on the AFL-CIO Support the Employee Free Choice Act button below


Why Workers Need the Freedom to Form Unions and Bargain

Joining together in a union to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions is the best opportunity working people have to get ahead.

Today, good jobs are vanishing and health care coverage and retirement security are slipping out of reach. Only 38 percent of the public says their families are getting ahead financially and less than a quarter believes the next generation will be better off.

But workers who belong to unions earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers. They are 62 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage and four times more likely to have pensions.

All workers should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life.

60 Million U.S. Workers Would Join a Union if they Could

Some 60 million U.S. workers say they would join a union if they could, based on research conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in December 2006. But when workers try to gain a voice on the job by forming a union, employers routinely respond with intimidation, harassment and retaliation.

During union election campaigns, management routinely coerces employees to convince them not to choose union representation. According to a survey of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election campaigns in 1998 and 1999 by Cornell University scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner, private-sector employers illegally fire employees for union activity in at least 25 percent of all efforts to join a union.

Employees not fired fear losing their jobs if they support union representation. According to the Bronfenbrenner survey, management forces employees to attend group anti-union presentations in 92 percent of all union campaigns. Brent Garren, senior associate counsel for UNITE HERE, told a House subcommittee this past September that 79 percent of workers agreed workers are “very” or “somewhat” likely to be fired for trying to form a union.

The Employee Free Choice Act would reform the nation’s basic labor laws by requiring employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation. It also would provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes and establish stronger penalties for violation of the rights of workers seeking to form unions or negotiate first contracts. The act had bipartisan support of 44 senators and 215 representatives in the 109th Congress, and the AFL-CIO expects even greater support in the 110th Congress.

On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow gives an overview of the Employee Free Choice Act and fact-checks the opposition's main argument against the legislation.


The Employee Free Choice Act, supported by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, would level the playing field for workers and employers and foster economic growth for America's middle class.

View a list of The Employee Free Choice Act Congressional Sponsors



President-elect Obama on the Employee Free Choice Act 



Under Obama, Labor Should Have Made More Progress
By Harold Meyerson,
Op-Ed Columnist for the Washington Post

February 10, 2010 - For American labor, year one of Barack Obama's presidency has been close to an unmitigated disaster.For American labor, year one of Barack Obama's presidency has been close to an unmitigated disaster. Labor's primary priority -- the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- died when the Democrats lost their 60-vote majority in the Senate. Labor's normal priority -- a functioning National Labor Relations Board -- also seems out of reach, with Republicans on Tuesday blocking the appointment of Obama nominee Craig Becker (that's why Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown scurried down to Washington last week to take his seat). Other key legislation for which labor has lobbied, including health-care reform and financial regulations, languishes in the Senate. Read More...

Why Labor Reform Always Fails
By Jake Blumgart

February 10, 2010 - Progressive Majorities in Congress and the White House Always Fail to Pass Labor Reforms, thanks to the Senate. At the beginning of 2009, unions had a reason to feel a little hopeful. The electoral victory spearheaded by Barack Obama the year before seemed to ensure a wave of progressive legislation. The new president even promised to advance the two policies closes to labor’s heart: health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill that would make it easier for workers to organize their own workplaces. It turns out expectations were needlessly high, and real labor reforms are going to fail the way they always have. Read More...

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Jan 14, 2010

Tips On Telephoning Your Elected Representatives

To find your senators' and representative's phone numbers, use our online congressional directory on the right-hand side of this page (CONTACT CONGRESS at by entering your zip code and clicking Go!  Our automated service will provide the contact information of Federal, State, and Local Legislators, along with other valuable information.

You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard directly at (202)224-3121 and ask for your senators' and/or representative's office.

Remember that telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue about which you wish to comment.

After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message, such as: "Please tell Senator/Representative (Name) that I support/oppose (S.___/H.R.___)."

You will also want to state reasons for your support or opposition to the bill. Ask for your senators' or representative's position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your telephone call.

Tips On Writing Congress

The letter is the most popular choice of communication with a congressional office. If you decide to write a letter, this list of helpful suggestions will improve the effectiveness of the letter:

Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H. R. ____, Senate bill: S.____.

Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.

Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.

Addressing Correspondence

To a Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

To a Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
__(Rm.#)__(name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

Note: When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:

Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Madam Speaker or Mr. Speaker:

Tips On E-mailing Congress

Generally, the same guidelines apply as with writing letters to Congress. Email addresses for your senators and representative are found directly from the online congressional directory above.

Effective Tips for Lobbying

Meeting with a member of Congress or congressional staff is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Following are some suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional office.

  • Always make an appointment to visit your legislator. When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler. Explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for congressional staff to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship to the area or interests represented by the member.
  • Plan Your Visit Carefully. Be clear about what it is you want to achieve; determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to achieve your purpose.
  • Identify yourself and/or the organization you represent, always mentioning the number of members or constituents in the organization.
  • Make sure you inform the legislator that you are a registered voter in his/her district.  (However, Committee Chairs represent your special interests, therefore you do not have to live in their districts.)
  • When it is time to meet with a member, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a Congressman or Congresswoman to be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member's crowded schedule. If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with a member's staff.
  • If lobbying with a group, one or two persons should speak on behalf of the group.
  • Always prepare and present two or three points.  Leave supporting documents with the legislator. Whenever possible, bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position. Members are required to take positions on many different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share with the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
  • Get your point across in the fewest possible words.  Do not use jargon or rhetoric, make it a conversation or short discussion. Members of Congress want to represent the best interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's constituency. If possible, describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance to him/her. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
  • Give the legislator a chance to express his/her point of view and be a good listener.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit ignorance on special points.  This will give you an opportunity to find the answer and contact the legislator again. Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information, in the event the member expresses interest or asks questions.
  • Do not argue, name call, or threaten.  Leave that to the opposition.
  • Give special recognition to the legislators who are known to be on your side, and ask them for advice and help in reaching other legislators.
  • Even if you are turned down, leave on a friendly note, with a firm handshake.
  • Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.

Congressional Staff Roles

Each member of Congress has staff to assist him/her during a term in office. To be most effective in communicating with Congress, it is helpful to know the titles and principal functions of key staff.

Commonly Used Titles

Administrative Assistant or Chief of Staff

The Administrative Assistant reports directly to the member of Congress. He/she usually has overall responsibility for evaluating the political outcome of various legislative proposals and constituent requests. The Admin. Asst. is usually the person in charge of overall office operations, including the assignment of work and the supervision of key staff.

Legislative Director, Senior Legislative Assistant, or Legislative Coordinator

The Legislative Director is usually the staff person who monitors the legislative schedule and makes recommendations regarding the pros and cons of particular issues. In some congressional offices there are several Legislative Assistants and responsibilities are assigned to staff with particular expertise in specific areas. For example, depending on the responsibilities and interests of the member, an office may include a different Legislative Assistant for health issues, environmental matters, taxes, etc.

Press Secretary or Communications Director

The Press Secretary's responsibility is to build and maintain open and effective lines of communication between the member, his/her constituency, and the general public. The Press Secretary is expected to know the benefits, demands, and special requirements of both print and electronic media, and how to most effectively promote the member's views or position on specific issues.

Appointment Secretary, Personal Secretary, or Scheduler

The Appointment Secretary is usually responsible for allocating a member's time among the many demands that arise from congressional responsibilities, staff requirements, and constituent requests. The Appointment Secretary may also be responsible for making necessary travel arrangements, arranging speaking dates, visits to the district, etc.





Jan 14, 2010

Adjournment to a Day Certain - Adjournment under a motion or resolution that fixes the next time of meeting. Under the Constitution, both Houses must agree to a concurrent resolution for either House to adjourn for more than three days. A session of Congress is not ended by adjournment to a day certain.

Adjournment Sine Die - Adjournment without definitely fixing a day for reconvening; literally "adjournment without a day." Usually used to connote the final adjournment of a session of Congress. A session can continue until noon, January 3, of the following year, when, under the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, it automatically terminates.

Amendments (Types of) - A proposal of a Member of Congress to alter the text of a bill or another amendment. An amendment usually is voted on in the same manner as a bill.

Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute - An amendment which seeks to replace the entire text of an underlying bill. The adoption of such an amendment precludes any further amendment to that bill under the regular process. (See also: Substitute Amendment)

Pro Forma Amendment - A motion whereby a Member secures five minutes to speak on an amendment under debate in the Committee of the Whole. The Member gains recognition from the chair by moving to "strike the last word." The motion requires no vote, does not change the amendment under debate, and is deemed automatically withdrawn at the expiration of the five minutes of debate.

Substitute Amendment - An amendment which replaces the entire text of a pending amendment. (Also see "Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute").

Bills Introduced - In both the House and Senate, any number of Members may join in introducing a single bill or resolution. The first Member listed is the sponsor of the bill, and all Members' names following the sponsor's are the bill's cosponsors. When introduced, a bill is referred to the committee or committees that have jurisdiction over the subject with which the bill is concerned. Under the standing rules of the House and Senate, bills are referred by the Speaker in the House and by the presiding officer in the Senate. In practice, the House and Senate parliamentarians act for these officials and refer the vast majority of bills.

Budget Authority - Authority provided by law to enter into obligations that normally result in the outlay of funds. The main forms of budget authority are appropriations, borrowing authority, and contract authority. Budget authority may be classified by the period of availability (one year, multiyear, or no year), by the timing of congressional action (current or permanent), or by the specificity of the amount available.

Budget Outlay - Payments made (generally through the issuance of checks or disbursement of cash) to liquidate obligations. Outlays during a fiscal year may be for payment of obligations incurred in prior years or in the same year.

Budget Resolution - A concurrent resolution which outlines in broad parameters the levels of spending and revenues for the next fiscal year. The resolution, which is not signed by the President, contains allocations of spending authority for House and Senate committees which serve as constraints on their consideration of legislation. The Appropriations Committee gets an allocation for discretionary spending.

Calendar - An agenda or list of business awaiting possible action by the House or Senate. The House has five calendars (the Union Calendar, the House Calendar, the Private Calendar, the Corrections Calendar, and the Calendar of Motions to Discharge Committees).

Clerk of the House - The chief administrative and budgetary officer of the House of Representatives. The Clerk is responsible for the official House Journal and House Calendar, for recording and certifying votes on final passage, the House payroll, office supplies and furniture, repairs, etc.

Committee - A panel of members elected or appointed to perform some service or function for its parent body. Congress has four types of committees: standing, special or select, joint, and, in the House, a Committee of the Whole. Except for the Committee of the Whole, committees conduct investigations, make studies, issue reports and recommendations, and, in the case of standing committees, review and prepare measures on their assigned subjects for action by their respective houses. Most committees divide their work among several subcommittees or, in some cases, task forces, but only the full committee may submit reports or measures to its house or to Congress. With rare exceptions, the majority party in a house holds a majority of the seats on its committees, and their chairmen are also from that party.

Committee Allocation - The distribution, pursuant to section 302 of the Congressional Budget Act, of new budget authority and outlays to House and Senate committees. The allocation, which may not exceed the relevant amounts in the budget resolution, usually is made in the joint explanatory statement that accompanies the conference report on the budget resolution.

Committee of the Whole - A committee composed of all House Members created to expedite the consideration of bills, other measures and amendments on the floor of the House. In the Committee of the Whole, a quorum is 100 Members (as compared to 218 in the House) and debate on amendments is conducted under the five-minute rule (as compared to the hour rule in the House), following general debate. In addition, certain motions allowed in the House are prohibited in the Committee of the Whole including, but not limited to, motions for the previous question, to table, to adjourn, to reconsider a vote, and to refer or recommit.

Expedited Procedures - Procedures which provide a special process for the accelerated Congressional consideration of legislation. This accelerated process usually includes consideration in committee and on the Floor of the House and Senate. Furthermore, these procedures often involve a departure from the regular order of the House. Expedited procedures are provided by law, as opposed to by a special rule.

Five Minute Rule - (1) A debate-limiting rule of the House used when the House sits as the Committee of the Whole. (2) A Member offering an amendment is allowed to speak for five minutes in support of each amendment and an opponent is allowed to speak for five minutes in opposition. (3) Other Members may rise to "strike the last word" and receive five minutes to speak in favor or opposition. (4) Additional time for speaking can be obtained through a unanimous consent request.

Germaneness - A rule requiring that debate and amendments pertain to the same subject as the matter under consideration. Questions of germaneness both in committee and on the House floor are determined by the Chair and/or the Speaker subject to appeal to the House or the Committee .

Lay on the Table - A motion to "lay on the table" is not debatable and is usually a method of making a final, adverse determination of a matter.

Legislative History - The documents that accompanied a bill throughout the legislative process comprise its legislative history. These include the committee report, the conference committee report and the statement of managers (if applicable), and the text of the floor debate in both chambers. Legislative history is used by federal agencies to clarify vague provisions in the laws they are required to implement.

Marking Up a Bill - The process by which a committee or subcommittee moves through the contents of a measure, debating and voting on amendments to its provisions by revising, adding or subtracting language prior to ordering the measure reported.

Motion to Recommit - A motion made on the floor after the engrossment and third reading of a bill or resolution, but prior to the Chair’s putting the question on final passage. Preference is given to a Member who is opposed to the bill, and is reserved by tradition to the Minority party. The Speaker usually gives priority recognition to the bill’s Minority floor manager. The motion to recommit may be without instructions (which is non-debatable and has the effect of killing the bill), or with instructions (subject to 10 minutes or sometimes an hour of debate split between a proponent and opponent, and usually directs the reporting committee to amend “forewith” (immediately) or rewrite the bill in a specified way). The motion to recommit may apply to conference reports where the House acts first.

Office of the Parliamentarian - An office managed, supervised and administered by a non-partisan Parliamentarian appointed by the Speaker. This office is responsible for advising the presiding officer, members and staff on the rules and procedures of the House as well as for compiling and preparing the precedents of the House. All consultation with this office is confidential (if requested).

Official Reporters - Official Reporters are responsible for collecting material for printing in the Congressional Record. These Clerks sit in the center of the first tier of the rostrum on the House Floor. All submissions for the Record, for example, extensions of remarks, corrections to Member's floor statements, and extraneous material, are given to the Official Reporters.

Point of Order - An objection that the pending proposal (bill, amendment, motion, etc.) is in violation of a rule of the House. The validity of points of order is determined by the presiding officer, and if held valid the offending bill, amendment or provision is ineligible for consideration. Points of order may be waived by special rules.

Privilege - A status relating to the rights of the House and its members and the priority of motions and actions on the floor of the House. "Privileged questions" relate to the order of legislative business while "questions of privilege" relate to matters affecting the safety, dignity or integrity of the House, or the rights, reputation or conduct of a member acting as a representative.

Privileged Matters - House rules give certain House committees a "green light" to bring certain categories of legislation to the House floor for immediate debate. The Speaker must recognize any Chairman for the purpose of calling up a privileged matter reported from his committee. Examples of privileged matter include special rules from the Rules Committee, conference reports from any conference committee, congressional budget resolutions from the Budget Committee, censure or expulsion resolutions from the Ethics Committee, and general appropriations bills from the Appropriations Committee.

Previous Question - A motion offered to end debate and preclude further amendments from being offered. In effect it asks, “are we ready to vote on the issue before us?” If the previous question is ordered in the House, all debate ends and usually the House immediately votes on the pending bill or amendment. If the previous question is defeated, control of debate shifts to the leading opposition member (usually the Minority floor manager) who then manages an hour of debate and may offer a germane amendment to the pending business. The effect of defeating the previous question is to turn over control of the floor to the Minority or opposition. Even though the Minority may try to depict an effort to defeat the previous question as a substantive vote, it is always a procedural action.

Quorum - The number of Members whose presence is required to conduct business. A quorum in the House is a majority of the Members (218). A quorum in the Committee of the Whole is 100 Members. A quorum is presumed to be present until its absence is demonstrated. Under certain circumstances, a point of order can be made that a quorum is not present, at which time the Speaker (or Chair) counts for a quorum. If a quorum is not present, Members may be summoned to the floor. If a quorum fails to respond to the call, the only business in order is a motion to adjourn or a motion to direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to request the attendance of absentees.

Ramseyer Rule - A House rule requiring that committee reports contain a comparative print showing, through typographical devices such as italic print, the changes in existing law made by the proposed committee language (the "Cordon Rule" is a parallel rule of the Senate).

Reading for Amendment - In the Committee of the Whole, after a clerk has read or designated a section or paragraph of a measure, it is the House practice to complete action on all amendments to that section or paragraph before moving on to the next section or paragraph. A full reading of a section's text is often waived by unanimous consent or by a special rule from the Rules Committee, in which case the clerk reads only the section’s number or designates the paragraph. Sometimes, by unanimous consent or special rule, a measure is read or designated by title rather than by section or paragraph.

Recognition- Permission by the presiding officer for a Member to speak or propose a procedural action. A Member seeking recognition must rise and address the chair, but may not do so while another Member holds the floor unless that Member has violated a rule. Generally, recognition in the House is within the chair's discretion. Under some circumstances, the chair's discretion is absolute; under others, the chair may be required to recognize a Member eventually but not necessarily the first time the Member seeks recognition. Under still other circumstances, the chair is required to recognize certain Members for specific purposes. However, the Speaker must recognize Members for privileged business and motions, but when several Members seek recognition on business of equal privilege, the Speaker has discretion in deciding whom to recognize first. By tradition and practice, both the Speaker and the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole follow certain priorities of recognition during debate. In both houses, the chair's recognition authority is not subject to appeal.

Reconsideration - A motion to reconsider the vote by which an action was taken has, until it is disposed of, the effect of putting the action in abeyance. In essence, it is a motion to vote again on that which was just agreed to.

Re-Referral - The assignment of a measure to a committee different from the committee to which the measure was initially referred. Usually used to correct erroneous initial referrals.

Rules (Types of) - There are two specific types of rules.

Standing Rules - These are the standing rules governing the normal order of business in the House or in a committee. These rules are adopted by the full House and by each committee at the beginning of each Congress. These rules generally govern such matters as the duties of officers, the code of conduct, the order of business, admission to the floor, parliamentary procedures on handling amendments and voting, and jurisdictions of committees.

Special Rules - (1) Special rules involve a departure from the standing rules of the House for the consideration of a specific bill. (2) They are usually resolutions reported by the Rules Committee which govern the handling of a particular bill on the House floor.

Standing Committees - These permanent House panels are identified in House Rule X, which also lists the jurisdiction of each committee. Because they have legislative jurisdiction, standing committees consider bills and issues and recommend measures for consideration by the full House. They also have oversight responsibility to monitor agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions, and, in some cases, in areas that cut across committee jurisdictions.

Suspension - A time-saving method used to consider legislation. By suspending the rules and passing the measure, this procedure has the effect of preventing any points of order from being raised against a measure for violation of a rule. Under this procedure, the bill is unamendable (except the motion to suspend the rules may propose to pass a measure in amended form) and debate on the motion and the measure is limited to forty minutes equally divided between a proponent and an opponent. A favorable vote of two-thirds, a quorum being present, is necessary for passage. This procedure is in order every Monday and Tuesday and is intended to be reserved for relatively noncontroversial bills. Suspensions are considered only in the House, not in the Committee of theWhole. The rules of the House Republican Conference prohibit the consideration of a bill under suspension which costs more than $100 million. This requirement can be waived by the Republican Leadership.

Unanimous Consent - A method used to expedite consideration of non-controversial measures on the House floor. Proceedings of the House or actions on legislation often take place by unanimous consent of the House (i.e., without objection), whether or not a rule of the House is being violated.

Unanimous Consent Agreements - Agreements negotiated among Senators by the Majority and Minority Leaders to limit debate on a specified measure, to restrict amendments to it, and to waive points of order. Requires the consent of every Senator and may be denied by a single objection. These agreements, also called "time agreements," are the Senate parallel to "special rules" from the House Rules Committee.

Yielding - Once a member has been recognized by the Speaker (or Chair) to speak, he controls the floor; in general, no other member may speak without being granted permission to do so by the member recognized. Another member who wishes to speak will ask the recognized member to yield by saying, "Will the gentleman yield to me?"




Jan 14, 2010

By Robert B. Dove
United States Senate
Updated February 1997


The legislative branch of government has responsibilities which in many cases transcend the process of enactment of legislation. Among these are the Senate's power of advice and consent with regard to treaties and nominations. The preeminent role of the legislative branch, however, is its concern with legislation.

"All legislative Powers" granted to the Federal government by the Constitution, as stated in Article I, Section I, are vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Congress meets at least once a year and has been doing so since 1789 in the following locations: from March 4, 1789 through August 12, 1790, in Federal Hall, New York, New York; from December 6, 1790 through December 2, 1799, in Congress Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvani; and from November 17, 1800, at the Capitol, in Washington, D. C.

Since the Constitution prescribes that there be two Senators from each State, the Senate is presently composed of 100 Members. Also pursuant to the Constitution, a Senator must be at least 30 years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for 9 years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State for which the Senator is chosen. The term of office is 6 years and approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every second year.


The order of business in the Senate is simpler than that of the House. While the procedure of both bodies is basically founded on Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, the practices of the two bodies are at considerable variance. The order and privileged status of motions and the amending procedure of the two are at less variance than their method of calling up business. The business of the Senate (bills and resolutions) is not divided into classes as a basis for their consideration, nor are there calendar days set aside each month in the Senate for the consideration of particular bills and resolutions. The nature of bills has no effect on the order or time of their initial consideration.

The Senate, like the House, gives certain motions a privileged status over others and certain business, such as conference reports, command first or immediate consideration, under the theory that a bill which has reached the conference stage has been moved a long way toward enactment and should be privileged when compared with bills that have only been reported.

At any time the Presiding Officer may lay, or a Senator may move to lay, before the Senate any bill or other matter sent to the Senate by the President or the House of Representatives, and any pending question or business at that time shall be suspended, but not displaced. Included in this category are veto messages, which constitute privileged business and which may be brought up at almost any time; however, a Senator cannot be deprived of his right to the floor for this purpose nor may certain business be interrupted, such as approving the Journal, while the Senate is dividing "or while a question of order or a motion to adjourn is pending."

The Senate is a continuing body as contrasted with the House. Two-thirds of the Senators of an old Congress return to the subsequent new one without having to be re-elected, but all Representatives must stand for re-election every two years. Thus the manner and extent of organizing each new Senate have not been established under the influence of definite breaks between each Congress as has been the experience of the House, nor have the parliamentary rules of the Senate been equally subjected to alterations. Representatives re-adopt their old rules of procedure at the inception of each Congress, often with slight modification, while Senators have not given a general reaffirmation to their rules since 1789. The rules adopted by the Senate in the first Congresses have remained in force continuously, with the exceptions of particular additions or abolishments from time to time. Any such changes are made by amending the rules to meet new needs of the body. Changes have not been frequent, as demonstrated by the fact that a codification of the accumulated alterations has occurred on only a few different occasions.

The continuity of sessions of the same Congress is provided for by the Senate rules:

At the second or any subsequent session of a Congress, the legislative business of the Senate which remained undetermined at the close of the next preceding session of that Congress shall be resumed and proceeded with in the same manner as if no adjournment of the Senate had taken place. (Rule XVIII)

In its rules and practices, the Senate always has emphasized the importance of maintaining decorum in its proceedings. "At no stage of the Senate's proceedings may a Senator "refer offensively to any State of the Union." "No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator." "No Senator shall interrupt another in debate without his consent, and to obtain such consent he shall first address the Presiding Officer; and no Senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same day without leave of the Senate, which shall be determined without debate." "If any Senator, in speaking or otherwise, transgress the rules of the Senate, the Presiding officer shall, or any Senator may, call him to order; and when a Senator shall be called to order he shall sit down, and not proceed without leave of the Senate, which, if granted, shall be upon motion that he be allowed to proceed in order, which motion shall be determined without debate."

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All proposed legislation, and nearly all formal actions by either of the two Houses, take the form of a bill or resolution.

A bill is a legislative proposal of a general nature. A bill may propose either a public or private matter, but both are numbered in the same sequence. Public bills are the most numerous. Private bills are designed to affect or benefit specific individuals or groups of individuals. Together, bills account for a large majority of the total of legislative proposals of each Congress. The Senate numbers bills in sequence starting with number 1, and each number is preceded by the designation "S". House bills are similarly numbered and prefaced by "H.R." Thus, bill number 100 in the Senate is written S. 100, and in the House, H.R. 100.

Joint resolutions, which have the same effect as bills unless they are used to propose amendments to the Constitution, are designated "S.J. Res. ___." Concurrent resolutions, which are designated "S. Con. Res. ___" for Senate concurrent resolutions, are chosen to express the sense of the Congress to the President or other parties; to attend to "housekeeping" matters affecting both Houses, such as the creation of a joint committee; or to carry proposals to correct the language of measures passed by one House (an engrossment) or both Houses (an enrollment). All concurrent resolutions, including corrective resolutions, must be agreed to in both the Senate and House. One House may seek to correct a measure it passed, or both Houses may wish to correct a measure awaiting the President's signature.

The former may be accomplished merely by specifying what changes or additions are to be made and requesting the other House to make them, or requesting the return of the measure to the originating House for that purpose. Correction of measures already sent to the President, however, are made after agreement of both Houses to concurrent resolutions requesting return of the measures from the White House. Such resolutions include a resolve that if and when a measure is returned, the action of the Presiding Officers of the two Houses in signing the measure shall be deemed rescinded, and the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House is authorized and directed in the re-enrollment of the measure to make the necessary corrections. The corrected measure (bill or joint resolution) is then again signed by the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House, the Speaker, and the Vice President and again delivered to the White House.

Finally there is the designation of "S. Res. ___" for Senate resolutions, which are used primarily to express the sense of the Senate only, or to take care of "housekeeping" matters, including changes in rules, that apply only to the Senate.

When the question of agreement to, or formal acceptance of, a resolution is raised, concurrent and simple resolutions are agreed to or adopted, whereas bills and joint resolutions are passed.

In the House of Representatives, measures have the following designations: "H.R. ___," for House bills; "H.J.Res. ___," for House joint resolutions; "H. Con. Res. ___," for House concurrent resolutions; and "H. Res. ___," for House resolutions. Bills and resolutions are numbered ad seriatim, in the chronological order in which they are introduced or submitted.

Senate and House bills and joint resolutions, when passed by both Houses in identical form and approved by the President, become public or private law--public laws affect the Nation as a whole; private laws benefit only an individual or a class thereof. The procedure on each is identical, with the exception of joint resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which under the Constitution must be passed in each House by a two-thirds vote of the Members present and voting, a quorum being present. They are not sent to the President for his approval but to the Administrator of the General Services Administration, who transmits them to the various States. Constitutional amendments are valid when ratified by at least three-fourths of the States.

Concurrent resolutions have the force of both Houses and must be approved by them in identical form to be effective. However, they are not presented to the White House for the President's signature, because they do not become law. They are not signed by the President nor by the Speaker and the Vice President. Instead, they are attested by the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House and transmitted after approval to the Administrator of the General Services Administration for publication in the Statutes at Large.

A House or Senate resolution (H. Res. ___ or S. Res. ___) only has the force of the House passing it, and action by the one House is all that is necessary.

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Legislation originates in several ways. The Constitution provides that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;..."

The President fulfills this duty either by personally addressing a joint session of the two Houses or by sending messages in writing to Congress, or to either body thereof, which are received and referred to the appropriate committees. The President usually presents or submits his annual message on the state of the Union shortly after the beginning of a session.

In addition, there are many executive communications sent to Congress. These are documents signed by the President or by an agency or department head, and filed or submitted as a report to the Senate as directed by law or otherwise. These items are numbered sequentially for a Congress and assigned a prefix EC. They are described only by a brief statement of the contents in the Congressional Record.

The right of petition is guaranteed the citizens of the United States by the Constitution, and many individual petitions as well as memorials from State legislatures are sent to Congress. They are laid before the two Houses by their respective Presiding Officers or submitted by individual Members of the House and Senate in their respective bodies, and are usually referred to the appropriate committees of the House in which they were submitted.

Bills to carry out the recommendations of the President are usually introduced "by request" by the chairmen of the various committees or subcommittees thereof which have jurisdiction of the subject matter. Sometimes the committees themselves may submit and report to the Senate "original bills" to carry out such recommendations.

The ideas for legislative proposals may come from an individual Representative or Senator, from any of the executive departments of the Government, from private organized groups or associations, or from any individual citizen. However, they can be introduced in their respective Houses only by Senators and Representatives. When introduced, they are referred to the standing committees which have jurisdiction over the subject matter.

Members frequently introduce bills that are similar in purpose, in which case the committee considering them may add to one of the bills the best features of the others for reporting to the parent body, or draft an entirely new bill (known as an original bill) and report it in lieu of the others.

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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, 1989 (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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The motions which "shall be received" under Rule XXII when "a question is pending" "and which shall have precedence as they stand arranged" are:

To adjourn.

To adjourn to a day certain, or that when the Senate adjourn it shall be to a day certain.

To take a recess.

To proceed to the consideration of executive business.

To lay on the table.

To postpone indefinitely.

To postpone to a day certain.

To commit.

To amend.

All but the last four of these motions are not debatable.

The motion to adjourn should be distinguished from a resolution to adjourn both houses of Congress. Neither is debatable. The Senate may adjourn for as long a period of time as it sees fit, up to the Constitutional limitation of three days, without the consent of the other House, or it may adjourn for only a few minutes and reconvene on a new legislative day in the same calendar day.

The motion to lay on the table is a simple way of taking final action on pending business on which the Senate wishes to take a negative position. It is applicable to a bill and amendments thereto as well as to certain motions. An amendment can be laid on the table without prejudice to the bill to which it was offered, but an amendment to the amendment would also go to the table. Since the motion is not debatable, the question can be brought to a vote in a hurry. The motion is used generally to reach a final disposition on motions to reconsider or appeals from the decision of the chair. While the motion is applicable to pending business, it is not commonly used for the disposition of legislation--bills are generally either voted up or down. The preamble to a bill or resolution may be laid on the table without carrying the bill or resolution with it.

The motion to postpone indefinitely is the next in order, but it is rarely used to dispose of bills except in the case of companion bills, i.e., the Senate passes a House-passed bill and indefinitely postpones a companion Senate bill which has been reported and placed on the calendar. It is a way of effecting a final disposition of a measure. The motion to postpone to a day certain is also used by the Senate. These motions are debatable and amendable and take precedence over a motion to refer or commit. A motion to take up another bill while unfinished business is pending has precedence over a motion to postpone the unfinished business to a day certain.

A motion to recommit a bill to committee with instructions to report the bill back forthwith with an amendment, if agreed to, requires that the committee report the bill back to the Senate immediately with that proposed amendment which is then before the Senate for consideration.

The last of this series of motions which shall be received under Rule XXII, "when a question is pending," and in the order listed above, is "to amend." Any bill, or amendment thereto, before the Senate is open to amendment.


"If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate." "Whenever upon such roll call it shall be ascertained that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate; and pending its execution, and until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, shall be in order."

The Senate proceeds under the assumption that a quorum is present unless the question is raised; in that case, the bells are rung to inform the "absentee" Senators and the Presiding Officer directs a call of the roll. All decisions incident thereto are made without debate, and if a quorum is not present by the time the results from the roll call are announced, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request or compel the attendance of the absent Senators. Senators may be forced to attend, unless granted a "leave of absence" or by authority of the Senate, even if a quorum is present. Senators who do not reach the chamber when the roll is being called in time to answer to their names may gain recognition after the call and have their presence or vote recorded, provided the results have not been announced.

Under the practice of the Senate, anyone, once recognized, can request a quorum call, but a Senator who has the floor cannot be forced to yield to another for that purpose. The chair is not permitted to count in order to ascertain the presence of a quorum; it must be determined by roll call.

There is no limit to the number of requests for quorum calls that may be made during the course of a day; a request is generally held dilatory if no business has transpired since the last one, and it is not in order immediately after a roll call vote showing that a quorum is present. The reception of a message from the House has not been ruled as the transaction of business sufficient to justify a quorum call. The following have been ruled to be business: the ordering of engrossment and third reading of a joint resolution, presentation and reference of a communication, granting of permission to insert an article in the Record, objection to a bill under call of the calendar under Rule VIII, the making of a motion or ordering of the yeas and nays, voting on motions to recess, adjourn, and lay on table and on an appeal from the decision of the chair, the offering of an amendment, agreeing to a motion for an executive session, and submitting a report out of order.

A motion may be made to request attendance of those absent, and instructions to compel their attendance may be added. Such a motion is not debatable. A quorum call on various occasions has been withdrawn by unanimous consent while the roll was being called; but when an announcement of no quorum has been made, it is not in order to vacate the call even by unanimous consent. In the absence of a quorum, neither debate nor the transaction of business, including motions (except the motion to adjourn), is in order; it is not even in order to move to recess.


Rule XII, relating to voting, provides:

1. When the yeas and nays are ordered, the names of Senators shall be called alphabetically; and each Senator shall, without debate, declare his assent or dissent to the question, unless excused by the Senate, and no Senator shall be permitted to vote after the decision shall have been announced by the Presiding Officer, but may for sufficient reasons, with unanimous consent, change or withdraw his vote. No motion to suspend this rule shall be in order, nor shall the Presiding Officer entertain any request to suspend it by unanimous consent.

2. When a Senator declines to vote on call of his name, he shall be required to assign his reasons therefor, and having assigned them, the Presiding Officer shall submit the question to the Senate: "Shall the Senator, for the reasons assigned by him, be excused from voting?" which shall be decided without debate; and these proceedings shall be had after the roll call and before the result is announced; and any further proceedings in reference thereto shall be after such announcement.

Any one of the several methods of voting utilized by the Senate may be resorted to for final disposition of any amendment or bill or question. The methods are: voice vote, division, and yea and nay. The yeas and nays may be ordered when the request is seconded by 1/5 of a presumptive quorum, but frequently the Presiding Officer does not bother to count; he merely takes a glance at the "showing" of hands and orders the call; simultaneously the bells ring in both the Senate wing of the Capitol and the Senate office buildings. The names of the Senators are called in their alphabetical order. Voting and changes of votes are in order until the decision has been announced by the chair.

A Senator can change his vote at any time before the result is announced. In the case of a veto, a yea and nay vote is required by the Constitution. Otherwise, the Senators may utilize any of the methods. After the result of a vote has been announced, a request for a division or yea and nay vote comes too late; the announcement that the "ayes (or nays) seem to have it" is not a final result. The yeas and nays may be demanded prior to announcement of the results of a division vote.

Where less than a quorum votes and the number of pairs announced are not sufficient to make a quorum, it is the duty of the chair to order a quorum call; the vote is valid if a quorum was present, even if a quorum did not vote, provided that a number of those not voting, sufficient to make a quorum, announced they were present but paired.

"Pairing" is the practice that has been developed in both houses to enable Representatives and Senators to register their opinion on any particular issue or issues when they are unavoidably absent from the chamber on public or private business. By the use of "pairs" a Senator (or Representative) favoring a particular issue, and who is absent when a roll-call vote is taken on it, may make his opinion effective by contracting (pairing) with a colleague opposing the issue that neither of the Senators will vote. "Pairs" are not counted as yeas or nays in the official tabulation of the roll call for the purpose of determining the adoption or rejection of the issue being voted on.

After all amendments to an original amendment to a bill have been disposed of, the question recurs on the adoption of the amendment as amended, if amended. After all amendments to a bill have been acted on, the question recurs on third reading and passage of the bill. After the Senate acts on an amendment or on a bill, or almost any question on which the Senate has voted, any Senator voting on the side that prevailed may offer a motion to reconsider the vote by which that action was taken. A Senator voting in the minority cannot move to reconsider a yea and nay vote; if he did not vote he may.

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Various officials are present on the floor of the Senate when it convenes, including the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Senate, the Sergeant at Arms, the Legislative Clerk, the Journal Clerk, the Parliamentarian of the Senate, the Secretaries for the Majority and the Minority, the Official Reporters of Debate, and the Pages.

The Secretary of the Senate is the elected official of the Senate responsible for management of many legislative and administrative services. The Secretary is the disbursing officer for the Senate. The official seal of the Senate is in the custody of, and its use is prescribed by, the Secretary. In the absence of the Vice President, and pending the election of a President pro tempore, the Secretary performs the duties of the chair.

The Assistant Secretary is the chief assistant to the Secretary of the Senate. The Assistant Secretary performs the functions of the Secretary in the latter's absence, and in the event of the death or resignation of the Secretary would act as Secretary in all matters except those duties as disbursing officer of the Senate.

On the day after the first organization of the Senate, a Doorkeeper was chosen whose title was eventually changed to Sergeant at Arms. His duties are to execute the Senate's orders as to decorum on the floor and in the galleries. He is responsible for the enforcement of all rules made for the regulation of the Senate wing of the Capitol. He also is the custodian of all properties under the dominion of the Senate and supervises the messengers, pages and other workers who serve the Senate. If the Senate decides to issue warrants of arrest for its absent Members, it is the duty of the Sergeant of Arms to bring those Senators into custody.

Article 1, section 5, paragraph 3 of the Constitution provides that "Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House and any question shall, at the Desire of one-fifth of those Present be entered on the Journal." The Journal Clerk is charged with maintaining the Senate Journal under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate.

The Legislative Clerk is responsible for reporting all bills, messages from the House, conference reports, and amendments to the Senate. All record votes are taken by the Legislative Clerk and his assistants.

An appointed official of the Senate, the Parliamentarian functions under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate. The Parliamentarian's chief duty and responsibility is to advise the Presiding Officer on parliamentary aspects of Senate activity. The Parliamentarian advises Senators and senatorial committee staffs, and is called upon by other branches of Government, the press, and the public for information regarding procedural aspects of Senate activity.

The Official Reporters of Debates prepare the material concerning business of the Senate for inclusion in the Congressional Record. All proceedings in the Senate Chamber are reported verbatim by a staff of Official Reporters, who are under the supervision of the Editor in Chief. The Editor in Chief is the editor of all matter contained in the Senate proceedings. In addition to the verbatim proceedings in the Senate Chamber, the office of the Official Reporters processes for inclusion in the Congressional Record a description of the morning business conducted by the Senate (measures introduced, messages from the President and the House of Representatives, co-sponsors, communications received, and notices of hearings), and additional or unspoken statements of Senators. The Official Reporters of Debates are appointed by the Secretary of the Senate.

The Secretary for the Majority is an elected officer of the Senate who is responsible for providing many support services to the majority party leaders and members of the Senate. The floor-related duties of the Secretary include supervising the cloakroom, briefing Senators on votes and issues that are under consideration on the floor, obtaining pairs for Senators, and polling Senators when the Leadership so desires. Additionally, the Secretary is responsible for assigning Senate Chamber seats to the majority party Members; maintaining a file of committee assignment requests; staffing the committee which arranges majority party committee assignments; recommending to the Leadership majority party candidates for appointment to boards, commissions, and international conferences; maintaining records of such appointments; providing a repository for official minutes of majority party conferences and meetings of the Policy Committee, Steering Committee, and committee chairmen; monitoring the nominations on the Executive Calendar; and other duties as directed by the Leadership.

The Secretary for the Minority also is an elected officer of the Senate, and performs corresponding duties for the minority party leaders and other Senators.

The Republican Legislative Scheduling Office provides floor assistance to Republican Senators. The staff serves as a liaison between Republican Senators and the Republican leadership in dealing with Senators' legislative interests, unanimous consent requests, time agreements, and the scheduling of the Senate's proceedings. When the Republicans are in the majority, the Republican Legislative Scheduling Office also schedules Republican Senators to preside over the Senate.

Floor assistance for Democratic Senators is provided by the staff of the Democratic Policy Committee. This staff is available to provide information regarding the scheduling of legislation and to act as liaison between the legislative committees and the Democratic leadership. Assistance is given in the arrangement of unanimous consent requests on time agreements, amendments, and procedural issues on legislation being debated by the Senate. In addition, the staff provides advice on general parliamentary situations.

The Democratic Policy Committee provides other services to Democratic Senators, including detailed voting records for each Democratic Senator, an annual report on the major achievements of the session; an extensive index of record votes on legislation, both chronologically and by subject matter, and briefings on major bills and amendments.

Its counterpart, the Senate Republican Policy Committee, provides similar services for Republican Senators: maintenance of a research library; publication of legislative notices summarizing bills and resolutions on the Senate Calendar and proposed amendments thereto; publication of detailed analysis of all Senate record votes plus indexes, annual abstracts, and lists of voice votes; publication of the weekly Republican Counsel's Report; publication of policy papers on major issues; development of Republican legislative initiatives; research, legislative analysis, and speech writing for Republican Senators upon request; personnel placement and counselling; briefing officials from State and local governments on national issues; assisting new Senators with staff orientation; producing the information on the special television channel containing in-house updates on the Senate schedule; and assistance to the party leader in preparation of the End-of-Year Report.

Senate pages, male and female, when appointed, must be juniors in high school. They may not be appointed or serve after attaining the age of 17, except that if they are serving and enrolled in the Page School, they may continue their service through the session of the Senate in which the Page School terminates.

Riding Page Service is provided by a separate service, through the Senate Post Office, several times a day for delivery of Senators' letters to major Federal agencies in the District of Columbia only.

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Senate committees are appointed by resolution at the beginning of each Congress, with power to continue and act until their successors are appointed. All Senate committees are created by the Senate. At present, Senate committees include 16 standing committees, 3 select committees, and 1 special committee. Standing committees are charged to report by bill or otherwise on matters within a defined jurisdiction and generally to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, certain matters relating thereto. Select and special committees have varying powers and obligations, and increasingly have been given legislative jurisdiction. In current practice, the committee chairman is a member of the majority party. He or she is chosen by order of the Senate, and is usually, but not always, the senior Member in point of service of the majority Members of the committee.

Senate Members may also serve, along with House Members, on joint committees, whose duties and responsibilities are set forth in the respective resolutions or laws creating them. There are currently 4 joint committees of the Congress. Conference committees, appointed when there is disagreement to a measure after passage by both Houses, are composed of Members of both the Senate and House, like joint committees, but votes in a conference committee are not as a body, but as two delegations.

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Rule XXVI on committee procedure provides that each committee shall adopt rules (not inconsistent with the Standing Rules of the Senate) governing the procedure of such committee. It provides also that the rules of each committee shall be published in the Congressional Record not later than March 1 of each year, except that if any such committee is established on or after February 1 of a year, the rules of that committee during the year of establishment shall be published in the Record within 60 days. An amendment to a committee's rules shall be published in the Record not later than 30 days after the adoption of the amendment.

Committees as a rule have regular meeting days, but they may meet at the call of their chairmen or upon the request of a majority at other times. At these meetings matters on the committee calendar are usually the order of business, but any matter within the committee's jurisdiction may be considered--for example, an investigation of an agency of the Government over which the committee has jurisdiction, or a hearing at which an official discusses policies and operations of his agency.

Once a bill has been introduced and has been referred by the Presiding Officer with the advice of the Parliamentarian, the clerk of the committee enters it upon the committee's Calendar of Business. Any committee may refer its pending bills to its subcommittees for study and reports thereon. Most of the committees have standing subcommittees, and frequently ad hoc subcommittees are appointed to study and report on particular pieces of legislation or to make a study of a certain subject.

Committees or subcommittees generally hold hearings on all major or controversial legislation before drafting the proposal into a final form for reporting to the Senate. The length of hearings and the number of witnesses testifying vary, depending upon the time available, the number of witnesses wanting to be heard, the desires of the committee to hear witnesses, etc. Recommendations of the Administration, in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget, are sought by the committees on nearly all major legislation, but they are in no way obligated to accept such recommendations.

For example, the Department of Agriculture's Office of Governmental and Public Affairs, providing liaison between the department and the Congress, would be addressed on a bill relating to inspection of livestock, meat, and agricultural products, and the Office of Congressional Affairs of the General Services Administration would be asked to comment on proposed legislation affecting small business, disadvantaged business, and related subcontracting programs. The responses are often used in support of or against matters pending before the Senate by being quoted on the floor or being inserted in the Record by Senators during debate.

A subcommittee makes reports to its full committee, and the latter may adopt such reports without change, amend them in any way it desires, reject them, or adopt an entirely different report.

At a committee's "mark up" session, usually held just prior to reporting a bill or resolution back to the full Senate, the committee makes its final decisions about the content and form of the measure. The full committee then may report it to the Senate favorably with or without amendments, submit an adverse report thereon, or vote not to report on anything.

The measure can be reported with committee amendments which may (a) insert, (b) strike, (c) strike part of the bill and insert other language, or (d) strike the entire text and insert a complete substitute, thereby rejecting in toto the language of the measure as it was referred to, considered by, and reported by the Senate committee. The desired changes in the measure are indicated in the reprinted measure by use of italic type for additions and line-type for strike-outs, in contrast to the original introduced form of the measure which is printed in roman type.

Included may be additions, corrections, or modifications to the preamble of a resolution--the part(s) of a measure prefaced by the word "Whereas," which precedes the resolving clause. These are voted on after passage or adoption of the measure. Such clauses, which are introductory statements declaring the reasons for and the intent of the legislation, if amended, would reflect changes or modifications contained in the text of the measure. Also, the title may be amended.

Committees need not act on all bills referred to them. Under the Senate's rules, a Senator may enter a motion to discharge a committee from the further consideration of any bill, but this is rarely done. By unanimous consent, some bills are discharged from one committee and sent to another. If a motion to discharge is agreed to, the bill is thereby taken out of the jurisdiction of that committee and placed on the Senate Calendar of Business. It may subsequently be referred to another committee.

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The chairman, or some other member of the committee designated for that purpose, reports bills to the Senate, and when reported they are placed on the Senate Calendar of Business, unless unanimous consent is given for immediate consideration.

The action taken by the committee appears on the copy of the bill reported, and a written report, which is numbered ad seriatim, nearly always accompanies the bill. The reports, like the bills, are printed by the Government Printing Office for distribution.

A reported bill passes through the same channels in the Secretary's Office as an introduced bill, for notation of the proper entries in the Senate's official records. The bill also is reprinted, showing the calendar and report numbers, the name of the Senator reporting it, the date, and whether the committee ordered it reported with or without amendment. Committee members may write their own minority, supplemental, and/or additional views on the bill, and these statements are printed as a part of the committee report on the measure.

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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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Once a bill or resolution is before the Senate, it is subject to the amendatory process, both by the committee reporting it and by individual Senators offering amendments from the floor. A committee amendment reported as a total substitute (striking all after the enacting clause and inserting new language for the entire bill) for the pending measure is always voted on last, inasmuch as once a total substitute is agreed to, further amendments are precluded. With this exception, however, committee amendments take priority and are considered in order as they appear in the printed copy of the measure before the Senate. The only amendments from the floor in order during the consideration of these committee amendments are amendments to the committee amendments or sometimes to the part of the bill the committee amendments would affect.

Once the committee amendments have been disposed of, however, any Senator may propose amendments to any part of the bill not already amended, and while an amendment is pending, an amendment to the amendment is in order. By precedent, an amendment to an amendment to an amendment, being an amendment in the third degree, is not in order. However, the first amendment in the nature of a substitute for a bill, whether reported by a committee or offered by an individual Senator, is considered an original question and is amendable in two more degrees.

There are certain special procedures in the Senate which limit the amendatory process. For example, during the consideration of general appropriation bills, amendments are subject to the strictures of Rule XVI under which it is not in order to offer non-germane amendments or amendments proposing new or general legislation or increasing the amount of an appropriation if that increase has not been previously authorized or estimated for in the President's budget. Likewise, when operating under a general unanimous consent agreement in the usual form on a bill or resolution, amendments must be germane. Germaneness of amendments is also required once the Senate has invoked cloture; in addition, any amendments considered under cloture must have been submitted in writing before the Senate's vote on cloture.

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When all committee amendments and all Senators' floor amendments have been disposed of, the bill is ordered engrossed and read a third time, which step ends the amendatory process. The third reading is by title only. The question is then put upon passage of the bill, which requires a simple majority vote. If a resolution has a preamble, it may be agreed to, amended, or stricken out after the resolution has been adopted. The title to a bill is also acted upon after its passage; the title may be amended if amendments made to the bill necessitate such a change. At any time before its passage, a bill may be laid on the table or postponed indefinitely, either of which motions has the effect of killing the bill; Alternatively, a bill may be made a special order for a day certain, which requires a two-thirds vote; laid aside temporarily; recommitted to the committee which reported the bill; referred to a different committee; or displaced by taking up another bill by a majority vote.

Most bills are passed by a voice vote only, but where a doubt is raised in such a case, the Presiding Officer, or any Senator, before the result is announced, may request a division of the Senate to determine the question. Before the result of a voice or division vote has been announced, a roll-call vote may be had upon the demand of one-fifth of the Senators present, but at least 11--one fifth of the presumptive quorum of 51.

In the case of a yea-and-nay vote, any Senator who voted with the prevailing side or who did not vote may, on the same calendar day or on either of the next two days the Senate is actually in session, make a motion to reconsider the question. On a voice vote or division vote, however, any Senator may make the motion. If made before other business intervenes, it may be proceeded with and is debatable. It may be laid on the table without prejudice to the main question and is a final disposition of the motion. A majority vote determines questions of reconsideration. If the motion is agreed to, another vote may be taken on the question reconsidered; if disagreed to, the first decision of the Senate is affirmed. The making of such a motion is privileged but may not be made while another matter is pending before the Senate.

Only one motion to reconsider the same question is in order. Such a motion, under rule XXI, may be withdrawn by the mover by leave of the Senate, which may be granted by a majority vote or by unanimous consent. A bill cannot be transmitted to the House of Representatives while a motion to reconsider remains unacted upon.

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The printed bill used at the desk by the Senate during its consideration is the official desk copy, showing the amendments adopted, if any. Once it is endorsed as having passed, it is sent to the Secretary's Office and delivered to the Bill Clerk. After making the proper entries on his records and the data retrieval system, the Bill Clerk turns it over to the Enrolling Clerk who makes an appropriate entry on his records and sends it to the Government Printing Office to be printed on special white paper in the form in which it passed the Senate. This printed Act is attested by the Secretary as having passed the Senate as of the proper date, and is termed the official engrossed bill.

After the passage of a bill by one body, it technically becomes an Act (not yet effective as a law), but it nevertheless continues to generally referred to as a bill.

Engrossed bills are transmitted, or "messaged", to the House of Representatives by one of the clerks in the Secretary's Office, who is announced by one of the House's officials. Upon being recognized by the Speaker, the clerk announces that the Senate has passed a bill (giving its number and title) in which the concurrence of the House is requested.

Upon receipt of such a message from the Senate, the Speaker refers the measures contained therein to appropriate committees. If, however, a substantially similar House bill already has been favorably reported by a committee, the Senate bill, unless it creates a charge upon the Treasury, may remain on the Speaker's table instead of being referred to committee. It may subsequently be taken up or its text may be substituted for that of the House bill when consideration of the latter occurs.

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Senate bills and resolutions when messaged to the House may be referred by the Speaker to the appropriate House committee, just as he refers all bills and resolutions introduced in the House. If referred, they are processed in much the same fashion as in the Senate--that is, endorsed for reference, recorded in the Journal, listed in the Congressional Record, and printed by the Government Printing Office for distribution. House committees, like Senate committees, have committee calendars of business and regular meeting days (but may also meet on the call of their chairman) for the consideration of business pending before them.

The procedure of House committees in considering and reporting bills also is much the same as that of the Senate committees; for example, they too have standing subcommittees and ad hoc subcommittees. In contrast to the Senate, however, House rules allow the Speaker, under some circumstances, to refer a bill to two or more committees in sequence, or to refer parts of the same bill to different committees, when more than one committee has jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in the bill.

After all House committees having jurisdiction have concluded consideration of a bill, it may be reported to the House with or without amendments. A written report accompanies each reported measure. When reported from committee, a bill is placed on the Union or House Calendar, if a public bill, or on the Private Calendar. The House also has a Corrections Calendar, on which are placed bills that are expected to enjoy considerably more than majority support on the floor, and a calendar of motions to discharge committees from further consideration of bills referred to them.

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The House rules designate special legislative days which have been established to expedite certain types of unprivileged business. The special legislative days are: Calendar Wednesday (every Wednesday), District of Columbia (the second and fourth Mondays), suspension of the rules (every Monday and Tuesday), and the Corrections Calendar (the first and third Mondays). Private Calendar business, if any, is considered on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, and discharge motions on the second and fourth Mondays.

Generally speaking, after the regular routine business each morning, including the approval of the Journal, the House proceeds to the consideration of whatever bills or resolutions are to be acted on that day. The order varies somewhat, as follows: (1) On days set aside for certain procedures, such as suspension motions on Mondays and Tuesdays, bills and resolutions are called up in pursuance of the procedure, as defined by House rules in each instance; (2) under unanimous consent, bills are called up in pursuance of such requests made and granted by the House, regardless of the regular rules of procedure; and (3) privileged matters, such as general appropriation bills and conference reports, may be called up by the Members in charge of them at almost any time after they have lain over for three days, providing the Representative in charge is recognized by the Speaker.

The House also can determine the order of its business and decide what bill to take up by adopting a special rule (simple House resolution) reported by the Rules Committee. The procedure for consideration of such measures is defined in each instance in the special rule. A special rule to call up a bill may be debated for an hour before it is voted on. Bills called up under special rules are usually major or controversial pieces of legislation.

Bills which are first considered in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union are considered for amendment under the 5-minute rule, after which the Committee of the Whole reports them back to the House for action on any amendments that may have been adopted, and then for the vote on final passage.

In the House, as in the Senate, bills are read three times before they are passed. After a Senate bill is passed by the House, with or without amendment, it is returned to the Senate; if there are amendments, the amendments are engrossed before being messaged to the Senate. All House engrossments are printed on blue paper.

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Senate Action on House Amendments

Senate bills returned with House amendments are held at the desk and almost always are subsequently laid before the Senate by the Presiding Officer upon request or motion of a Senator (usually the Majority Leader or the manager of the bill). The Presiding Officer may also do this upon his own initiative, but this is rarely done. After the House message has been laid down, the House's amendments may be considered individually or, by unanimous consent, en bloc. Any one off the following motions relating to the amendment or amendments may then be offered, taking precedence in the order named : (1) a motion to refer the amendments to a standing committee of the Senate, (2) a motion to amend the amendments; (3) a motion to agree to the amendments; and (4) a motion to disagree to the amendments and ask a conference with the House. Usually number (4) includes authority for the Presiding Officer to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate, although the power to name conferees is in the Senate, not in the Chair. The number of conferees named varies widely. The usual range is 7 to 11, but occasionally a larger number is appointed, especially in the case of general appropriation bills or omnibus bills such as reconcilation measures.

In the case of motion number (2), the amendments made by the Senate to the House amendments are transmitted to the House, with a request for its concurrence therein. If the House concurs or agrees in all the amendments (the words being used synonymously), the legislative steps in the passage of the bill are completed. The House, however, may amend the Senate amendments to the House amendments, this being the second, and therefore the last, degree in which amendments between the Houses may be made. The House amendments, if any, are transmitted to the Senate, usually with a request for concurrence therein. As in the case of the original House amendments, the Senate may agree to some, disagree to others, or ask for a conference with the House thereon.

A conference may be requested at any stage of the consideration of these amendments between the houses. If, instead, the Senate agrees to all the House amendments to the Senate bill or to the Senate's amendments to House amendments, such action brings the two Houses into complete agreement, and likewise completes the legislative steps.

If the Senate refers the House amendments to a standing committee, the committee, after consideration, may recommend action indicated in motions (2), (3), or (4), and may make such a motion accordingly on the Senate floor.

Bills Originating in the House

If a bill or resolution originates in the House, it follows the same steps as set forth above, except in reverse, i.e.; a House committee considers it first; it is passed by the House; it is messaged to the Senate and referred to a Senate committee; the committee reports it to the Senate and it is then acted on by that body. If amended, it is returned to the House for its concurrence in the Senate amendments.

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When the Senate requests a conference or agrees to the House's request for a conference and names its conferees, it informs the House of its action by message. After the second House agrees to the conference, appoints conferees, and apprises the first House of its action by message, all the papers relating to the measure sent to conference (referred to as the "official papers") are transmitted to the conference. This includes the original engrossed bill, engrossed amendments, and the various messages of transmittal between the Houses.

Since the conferees of each House vote as a unit, the House, like the Senate, may appoint as many conferees as it chooses to meet with the Senate conferees to reconcile the differences between the two Houses--the sole purpose of a conference. Thus, having a larger number of conferees than the other House does not provide an advantage.

After deliberation, the conferees may make one or more recommendations; for example, (1) that the House recede from all or certain of its amendments; (2) that the Senate recede from its disagreement to all or certain of the House amendments and agree to the same; or (3) that the conference committee report an inability to agree in all or in part. Usually, however, there is compromise.

Conferees dealing with an amendment or a series of amendments are more limited in their options than conferees dealing with a bill passed by the second House with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. They can only deal with the matters in disagreement. They cannot insert new matter or leave out matter agreed to by both Houses, and if they exceed their authority, a point of order will lie against the conference report. Each House may instruct its conferees, but this is rarely done. Such instructions are not binding since conferences are presumed to be full and free--one House cannot restrict the other House's conferees.

Where one House passes a bill of the other House with an amendment in the nature of a substitute and the measure then goes to conference, the conferees have wider latitude since the entire matter is in conference. They may report a third version on the same subject matter; all of its provisions, however, must be germane modifications of either the House or Senate version, or it will be subject to a point of order.

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The recommendations of the conferees are incorporated in a written report and a joint statement of managers, made in duplicate, both of which must be signed by a majority of the conferees of each House. If there are amendments upon which they were unable to agree, a statement to this effect is included in the report. These are referred to as amendments is disagreement. The conferees cannot report parts of amendments in disagreement. For example, conferees must report in full agreement or disagreement when a bill had gone to conference after one House had amended it with a complete substitute for the other House's text.

One report, together with the papers if the House is to act on it first, is taken by the House conferees, or managers, as they are termed in that body, and subsequently presented by them to the House, with an accompanying explanatory statement as to its effect upon the matters involved. The report must lie over three days in the House before it may be considered, except during the last six days of a session. The Senate conferees take the other copy which is presented for printing under the requirements of the Legislative Reorganization Act, as amended in 1970. To save time and expense, this requirement is frequently waived in the Senate by unanimous consent.

Normally, the House agreeing to a conference on a bill acts first on conference report, but either House can act first if it has the official papers. Conference reports are privileged in both the Senate and the House. They cannot be amended, but must be voted upon in their entirety. If amendments in disagreement were reported by the conferees, they are acted on after the conference report is adopted and may be subject to amendment. After adoption by the first House, the conference report is transmitted with the official papers to the other House with a message announcing its action.

Assuming action by the House first, the Senate conferees could then present their report and ask for its immediate consideration. It does not have to lie over for three days in the Senate, as it does in the House, and the motion to proceed to its consideration is not debatable; thus the Senate may act immediately. A motion to recommit a conference report may not be made in the second House acting on the report since the conferees of the first House were discharged when their body agreed to the report.

If conferees reach a complete agreement on all of the House amendments to a Senate bill, and the House adopts that report, the adoption of the report by the Senate completes the legislative action on the bill. If, however, there were amendments upon which an agreement had not been reached by the conferees, the adoption of the report by both Houses leaves the parliamentary status of these particular amendments in disagreement the same as if no conference had been held.

If the amendments on which an agreement could not be reached were House amendments, and the House acted first on the report, it could then recede from its amendments, eliminating the amendments in disagreement; then, if the Senate were to adopt the report, the bill would be cleared for the President's signature. If they were Senate amendments and the House acted first, the House could concur in the Senate amendments or concur in them with amendments. If the Senate amendments were concurred in by the House, that would clear the amendments in disagreement, and when the Senate agreed to the conference report, the bill would be cleared for the President's signature. If the House should concur in the Senate amendments reported in disagreement with its own House amendments, after the Senate agreed to the report, it could concur in the House amendments to the Senate amendments which would clear the bill for the President's signature.

If the amendments reported in disagreement are not so disposed of, a further conference on these amendments could be requested by one House and agreed to by the other. When this happens, the two Houses usually appoint the same conferees. Until all the amendments in disagreement are reconciled by the two Houses, the bill cannot be presented to the President.

If a conference report is rejected by one of the Houses, it so notifies the other body by message and usually requests another conference; however, it may merely notify the second body of its action without requesting a further conference, leaving further steps to be taken by the other House. Endorsements showing these various legislative steps, and when taken, are made on the engrossed bill.

When the two Houses reach a complete agreement on all the amendments, the papers are delivered to the Enrolling Clerk of the House where the bill originated. The Enrolling Clerk prepares a copy of the bill in the form as finally agreed upon by the two Houses and sends it to the Government Printing Office for "enrollment," which means historically "written on parchment." The original papers on the bill are retained in the files of the originating House until the end of a Congress, when they are sent to the National Archives.

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Upon receipt of an enrolled bill from the Government Printing Office, either the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House endorses it, certifying where the bill originated. If, after examination by the Enrolling Clerk of that House, the bill is found to be in the form agreed upon by both Houses, a slip is attached thereto stating that the bill, identified by number and title, has been examined and found truly enrolled. It is then presented to the Speaker of the House for his signature, which is announced in open session. Usually, enrolled bills are signed first by the Speaker. The bill is then transmitted by messenger to the Senate, where it is signed by the Vice President.

Under the rules of the House, the Committee on House Oversight is charged, when an enrolled bill has been duly signed by the Speaker and the Vice President, to present the same, when the bill has originated in the House, to the President of the United States for his signature "and report the fact and date of such presentation to the House." If it is a Senate bill, this responsibility of presenting the bill to the President falls on the Secretary of the Senate.

An error discovered in a bill after the legislative steps in its passage have been completed may be corrected by authority of a concurrent resolution, provided the bill has not yet been approved by the President. If the bill has not been enrolled, the error may be corrected in the enrollment; if it has been enrolled and signed by the Presiding Officers of the two Houses, or by the Speaker, such action may be rescinded by a concurrent resolution agreed to by the two Houses, and the bill correctly re-enrolled. If it has been presented to the President, but not acted upon by him, he may be requested by a concurrent resolution to return it to the Senate or the House for correction. If, however, the President has approved the bill, and it has thereby become a law, any amendment thereof can only be made by the passage of another bill, which must take the same course as the original.

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The President, under the Constitution, has 10 days (Sundays excepted) after the bill has been presented to him in which to act upon it. If the subject matter of the bill is within the jurisdiction of a department of the Government, or affects its interests in any way, he may in the meantime, at his discretion, refer the bill to the head of that department for investigation and a report thereon. The report of such official may serve as an aid to the President in reaching a decision about whether or not to approve the bill. If the President does approve it, he signs the bill, giving the date, and transmits this information by messenger to the Senate or the House, as the case might be. In the case of revenue and tariff bills, the hour of approval is usually indicated. The enrolled bill is delivered to the Archivist of the United States, who designates it as a public or private law, depending upon its purpose, and gives it a number. Public and private laws are numbered separately and serially. An official copy is sent to Government Printing Office to be used in making the so-called slip law print.

In the event the President does not desire to approve a bill, but is unwilling to veto it, he may, by not returning it within the 10-day period after it is presented to him, permit it to become a law without his approval. The Archivist makes an endorsement on the bill that, having been presented to the President of the United States for his approval and not having been returned to the House of Congress in which it originated within the time prescribed by the Constitution, it has become a law without his approval.

Where the 10-day period extends beyond the date of the final adjournment of Congress, the President may, within that time approve and sign the bill, which thereby becomes a law. If, however, in such a case, the President does not approve and sign the bill before the expiration of the ten-day period, it fails to become a law. This is what is known as a pocket veto. The United States Court of Appeals, in the case of KENNEDY v. SAMPSON, 511 F.2d 430 (D.C. Cir., 1974), held that a Senate bill could not be pocket-vetoed by the President during an "intrasession" adjournment of Congress to a day certain for more than three days, where the Secretary of the Senate had been authorized to receive Presidential messages during such adjournment. In the case of BARNES v. KLINE, 759 F.2d 51 (D.C. Cir., 1985), the Court held the same with regard to an intersession adjournment.

If the President does not favor a bill and vetoes it, he returns it to the House of origin without his approval, together with his objections thereto (referred to as the "veto message"). It should be noted that after the final adjournment of the 94th Congress, 1st session, the President returned two bills, giving Congress the opportunity to reconsider and "override" the vetoes.

The constitutional provision for reconsideration by the Senate is met, under the precedents, by the reading of the veto message, spreading it on the Journal, and adopting a motion (1) to act on it immediately, (2) to refer it, with the accompanying papers, to a standing committee: (3) to order that it lie on the table, to be subsequently considered, or (4) to order its consideration postponed to a definite day. The House's procedures are much the same.

If, upon reconsideration by either House, the House of origin acting first, the bill does not receive a two-thirds vote, the President's veto is sustained and the bill fails to become a law.

If a bill which has been vetoed is passed upon reconsideration by the first House by the required two-thirds vote, an endorsement to this effect is made on the back of the bill, and it is then transmitted, together with the accompanying message, to the second House for its action thereon. If likewise reconsidered and passed by that body, a similar endorsement is made thereon. The bill, which has thereby been enacted into law, is not again presented to the President, but is delivered to the Administrator of the General Services Administration for deposit in the Archives, and is printed, together with the attestations of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of its passage over the President's veto.

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The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was enacted in 1974 as a means for Congress to establish national budget priorities and the appropriate level of total revenues, expenditures, and debt for each year. Moreover, it provided for strict time limits in dealing with Presidential attempts to impound funds already appropriated either through deferrals or rescissions.

The Act has been amended so as to curb the practice of imposing unfunded Federal mandates on States and local governments, as well as to give the President line item veto authority with respect to appropriations, new direct spending, and limited tax benefits. There has also been added to the statutes a provision allowing the two Houses of Congress to vote in an expeditious manner to reject rules issued by executive agencies.

Congress acts on a concurrent resolution on the budget in the spring of each year. This resolution sets levels of new budget authority and spending, revenue, and debt levels. However, Congress may adopt a later budget resolution that revises or reaffirms the most recently adopted budget resolution.

One of the mechanisms Congress uses to enforce projected budget authority and spending, revenue, and debt levels is called the reconciliation process. Under reconciliation, Congress in a budget resolution directs one or more legislative committees to report bills or recommend changes in laws that will achieve the levels of spending and revenues set by the budget resolution. The directions to the committees specify the total amounts that must be changed but leave to the discretion of the committees decisions about the changes that must be made to achieve the required levels.

If only one committee has been directed to recommend changes, that committee reports its reconciliation legislation directly to the floor for consideration. If, however, more than one committee has been directed to make changes, the committees report the recommended changes to the Committee on the Budget. That committee then reports an omnibus reconciliation bill to the floor for consideration by the whole Senate or House.

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Executive Matters Generally

The executive business of the Senate consists of nominations and treaties submitted to the Senate by the President of the United States for its "advice and consent." This business of the Senate is handled separately from its legislative business.

Treaties are referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Nominations are referred to one of the various committees of the Senate; usually this is the committee that handled the legislation creating the position. When committees report treaties or nominations to the Senate, they are placed on the Executive Calendar, as distinct from the Calendar of Business, on which legislation is placed. These two calendars are printed separately.

When the Senate considers nominations and treaties, it goes into executive session, as distinct from legislative session, and a separate Journal is kept of the proceedings thereon.


The scope of the Senate's authority to confirm Presidential nominations is vast. It includes officers of the Government--specifically, ambassadors, other public ministers and counsels, justices of the Supreme Court, all other officers of the United States as set forth in the Constitution, and such officers as Congress by law may designate.

A Presidential nomination requiring advice and consent must be approved by a majority vote of the Senate. After a nomination is received and referred to the appropriate committee, hearings may be held, and after the committee votes, the nomination may be reported back to the Senate. If the nomination is confirmed, a Resolution of Confirmation is transmitted to the White House and the appointment is then signed by the President.

Presidential nominations may be made during recesses of the Senate. The Constitution authorizes the President to "fill up" vacancies that may happen during such recesses "by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session." Recess appointments to the Supreme Court, however, troubled the Senate enough that it agreed to a sense of the Senate resolution on August 29, 1960, stating that such appointments "may not be wholly consistent with the best interests of the Supreme Court, the nominee who may be involved, the litigants before the Court, nor indeed the people of the United States." It further stated "that such appointments, therefore, should not be made except under unusual circumstances and for the purpose of preventing or ending a demonstrable breakdown in the administration of the Court"s business."


All confidential communications made by the President shall be kept secret, and all treaties which may be laid before the Senate, and all remarks, votes and proceedings thereon, shall also be kept secret until the Senate shall, by their resolution, take off the injunction of secrecy. When the Senate is proceeding on treaty ratification, the treaty shall be read a first time. Only a motion to refer it to committee, to print it in confidence for the use of the Senate, or to remove the injunction of secrecy shall be in order.

The rules for the consideration for executive business are different from the rules for the consideration and disposition of legislative business. Rule XXX provides that a treaty shall lie over for one day before the Senate proceeds to consider it in executive session; then it may be read a second time, after which amendments may be proposed. At any stage of these proceedings the Senate may remove the injunction of secrecy from the treaty. When there is no further debate or amendment to be proposed to the treaty, the Senate proceeds to consider a resolution of ratification.

After the resolution of ratification has been proposed, no amendment to the treaty is in order except by unanimous consent. On the other hand, reservations, etc., are in order only during consideration of the resolution of ratification, not while the treaty itself is being considered for amendment. After the Senate completes considering both the treaty and the resolution of ratification, it gives its final consent to the resolution by a two-thirds vote of the Senators present. The vote on a motion to postpone indefinitely requires the same two-thirds majority; all other motions and questions arising in relation to a treaty are decided by a majority vote.

Amendments, Reservations, and Other Statements

The Senate may stipulate conditions to a treaty in the form of amendments, reservations, understandings, declarations, statements, interpretations, and statements in committee reports. An "amendment" makes actual changes in the language of the treaty.

The term "reservation" in treaty-making, according to general international usage, means a formal declaration by a state, when signing, ratifying, of adhering to a treaty, which modifies or limits the substantive effect of one or more of the treaty's provisions as between the reserving state and other states party to the treaty. In addition, the Senate may attach to resolutions of ratification various "understandings," "interpretations," "declarations," and so on. The term "understanding" is often used to designate a statement that is not intended to modify or limit any of the provisions of the treaty in its international operation, but instead is intended merely to clarify or explain the meaning of the treaty or to deal with some matter incidental to the operation of the treaty without constituting a substantive reservation. Any such additions to the resolution are part of the instrument of ratification no matter what they are called, and even if their effect is solely of an internal domestic nature.

Ratification of Treaties

The word "ratification" when used in connection with treaties refers to the formal act by which a nation affirms its willingness to be bound by a specific international agreement. The basic purpose of ratification of a treaty is to confirm that an agreement which two or more countries have negotiated and signed is accepted and recognized as binding by those countries.

The procedure by which nations ratify treaties is a concern of domestic rather than international law. The Constitution does not use the word ratification in regard to treaties. It says only that the President shall have the power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties. The Constitution does not divide up the process into various component parts which can be identified today, such as initiation, negotiation, signing, Senatorial advice and consent, ratification, deposit or exchange of the instruments of ratification, and promulgation. From the beginning, however, the formal act of ratification has been performed by the President acting "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." The President ratifies the treaty, but only upon the authorization of the Senate.

The Senate gives its advice and consent by agreeing to the resolution of ratification. After it does so, the President is not obligated to proceed with the process of ratification. With the President's approval, however, the ratification occurs with the exchange of the instruments of ratification between the parties to the treaty.

Treaties, unlike any other business considered by the Senate, stay before that body once the President submits them until the Senate acts on them or unless the President requests, and/or the Senate adopts an order or resolution authorizing, their return to the President or the Secretary of State. In 1937, 1947, and 1952, the Senate returned numerous treaties, including some dating back as early as 1910, to the Secretary of State or the President.




Page Last Updated: Oct 10, 2017 (15:57:00)
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