[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 19. Discharging Measures From Committees]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


[[Page 451]]

 
           CHAPTER 19 - DISCHARGING MEASURES FROM COMMITTEES

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

  Sec. 1. In General; Alternative Methods
  Sec. 2. The Discharge Rule; Motions to Discharge
  Sec. 3. -- Application and Use; What Measures May Be Discharged
  Sec. 4. -- Signatures Required
  Sec. 5. -- Privilege and Precedence of Motions
  Sec. 6. -- Calling Up and Debating the Motion
  Sec. 7. -- Consideration of Discharged Measure; Forms
  Sec. 8. Discharge of Matters Privileged Under the Constitution
  Sec. 9. Discharge of Resolutions of Disapproval; Statutory Motions
        Research References
          7 Cannon Sec. Sec. 1007-1023
          Deschler Ch 18
          Manual Sec. Sec. 892, 1130


  Sec. 1 . In General; Alternative Methods

      There are certain procedures that effectively discharge a 
  committee or that may be invoked whenever a committee fails or refuses 
  to report a measure. These methods include:

     The motion to discharge a public bill or resolution available 
         under rule XV clause 2 after the measure has been pending in 
         committee for more than 30 days. Manual Sec. 892; see Sec. 2.
     A motion to discharge the Committee on Rules from a special 
         rule proposing a special order of business for consideration of 
         certain public bills or resolutions under rule XV clause 2 
         after the special rule has been pending before it for seven 
         days.
     The motion to suspend the rules available under rule XV clause 
         1 pursuant to a vote of two-thirds of the Members. Manual 
         Sec. 885.

[[Page 452]]

      Note: The motion to suspend the rules may be applied to unreported 
  measures. 8 Cannon Sec. 3421; generally, see Suspension of Rules.

     The Speaker's referral under rule XII clause 2 of a bill 
         pursuant to time limits that result in the discharge of the 
         bill from committee at the end of the designated time. Manual 
         Sec. 816.
     A resolution reported by the Committee on Rules providing for 
         the consideration of an unreported bill; the effect of the 
         resolution, if adopted, is to discharge the committee before 
         which the bill is pending. 5 Hinds Sec. 6771.
     A unanimous-consent request agreed to by the House (the 
         procedure does not lie in the Committee of the Whole). 4 Hinds 
         Sec. 4697.

      Note: Although a unanimous-consent request is within the 
  discretion of the Chair, the Speaker will not entertain such a request 
  without the consent of the chairman and ranking minority member of the 
  committee considering the measure and the majority and minority floor 
  leadership. See ``Speaker's guidelines,'' Manual Sec. 956.

     A statutory procedure for discharging certain measures of 
         Congressional disapproval or approval. Manual Sec. 1130; 4 
         Hinds Sec. 4697.

      As to the procedures for discharging a committee from a resolution 
  of inquiry, see Resolutions of Inquiry. Discharge of vetoed bills, see 
  Sec. 8, infra; discharge pursuant to statute, see Sec. 9, infra.


  Sec. 2 . The Discharge Rule; Motions to Discharge

                                 Generally

      Under rule XV clause 2, a Member may file with the Clerk a motion 
  (normally called a discharge petition) to discharge a committee from 
  the consideration of a public bill or resolution that was referred to 
  the committee 30 days prior thereto. Manual Sec. 892. The word 
  ``days'' has been construed to mean legislative days and has been so 
  recodified in rule XV clause 2. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.1 The period of 
  time specified by the rule does not begin to run until the committee 
  is appointed or elected. 7 Cannon Sec. 1019.
      The Clerk makes the petition available at the rostrum for Members 
  to sign while the House is in session. Under rule XV clause 2, when 
  the requisite number of signatures are obtained (a majority of the 
  total membership), the motion is entered on the Journal, printed in 
  the Congressional Record, and referred to the Discharge Calendar. 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 1.3. When the motion has been on the calendar for 
  seven legislative days, it may be called up in the House under the 
  discharge rule on the second or fourth Monday of a month. The motion 
  is then debated for 20 minutes and voted on. If the motion prevails on 
  a public bill or joint resolution, it is in order

[[Page 453]]

  to proceed to consider the discharged measure pursuant to a motion to 
  that effect. See Sec. 6, infra. If the motion prevails on a special 
  rule, the House proceeds to immediate consideration of the rule. See 
  Sec. 7, infra.
      Petitions to discharge committees are filed with the Clerk and are 
  not presented from the floor, but Members may give notice of the 
  filing of such petitions, either from the floor or by letter. 7 Cannon 
  Sec. 1008. Once the motion has been filed, the Clerk makes the 
  signatures a matter of public record on the last day of each week, and 
  signatures are available for public inspection in the Clerk's office 
  on any day of the business week. Manual Sec. 892.

                           Reoffering of Motion

      Under rule XV clause 2, when a perfected motion to discharge a 
  committee from the consideration of a measure has once been acted on 
  by the House, it is not in order to entertain during the same session 
  another motion for the discharge of that measure or any other bill or 
  resolution substantially the same as such measure.


  Sec. 3 . -- Application and Use; What Measures May Be Discharged

                       Public Bills and Resolutions

      A motion to discharge a committee from the consideration of a bill 
  applies to the bill as referred to the committee and not as it may 
  have been proposed to be amended in the committee. 7 Cannon Sec. 1015.
      The motion to discharge a bill may not be entertained if the bill 
  against which it is directed has been reported from committee before 
  the motion is called up for action in the House. The filing of the 
  motion to discharge does not preclude the committee from reporting the 
  measure in question at any time before the motion is called up for 
  consideration. Manual Sec. 892; Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 1.13.

         Application to Special Orders From the Committee on Rules

      Under the modern practice, the rule is most often invoked to 
  discharge the Committee on Rules from the consideration of a 
  resolution specified in rule XV clause 2(b)(1)(B). Such a resolution 
  would enable consideration of a reported public bill or public 
  resolution that has been reported by a standing committee or has been 
  referred to a standing committee for 30 legislative days under terms 
  therein specified by the sponsor of the resolution rather than under 
  the general rules of the House. A petition to discharge the Committee 
  on Rules from consideration of a special rule making in order a 
  balanced budget constitutional amendment received the requisite number 
  of signatures on two occasions. Manual Sec. 892.

[[Page 454]]

      The motion applies only to special orders that have been pending 
  before the Committee on Rules for at least seven legislative days. 
  Manual Sec. 892. Moreover, it is not in order to move to discharge the 
  Committee on Rules from the consideration of a resolution not 
  specified in the discharge rule. For example, the Committee on Rules 
  may not be discharged from the further consideration of a resolution 
  providing merely for the appointment of a committee to investigate. 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 2.6.
      Since the 105th Congress, rule XV clause 2(b)(2) has required that 
  a special rule subject to a discharge motion address the consideration 
  of only one measure and must not propose to admit or effect a 
  nongermane amendment.

                                 Timetable

      The discharge of a measure pursuant to rule XV clause 2 is subject 
  to the following timetable:

     Expiration of 30 legislative days after the measure is 
         referred to committee and the concurrent expiration of seven 
         legislative days after a petition is filed against a special 
         order of business referred to the Committee on Rules. Sec. 2, 
         supra.
     Requisite number of signatures. Sec. 4, infra.
     Expiration of seven legislative days, which begins the day the 
         motion is referred to the discharge calendar. Sec. 6, infra.
     Privilege of motion only on second or fourth Monday of month 
         following expiration of seven-day period. Sec. 6, infra.

  Sec. 4 . -- Signatures Required

      The requirement that a discharge motion be signed by a majority of 
  the Members has been interpreted to mean that the motion requires the 
  signatures of a majority of the entire membership (not including non-
  voting Delegates who may not sign), or 218 Members. Deschler Ch 18 
  Sec. 1.2. This requirement is in contrast to the vote needed for 
  actual passage of legislation under ordinary conditions, which 
  requires only a majority of those present and voting, a quorum being 
  present. See Voting. However, a hard majority is necessary for a 
  discharge motion because the death or resignation of a signatory of 
  the motion does not invalidate his signature. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 1.5. 
  To enable a Member elected in a special election to sign a petition, 
  the signature of his predecessor must be removed by the successor. 
  Manual Sec. 892; Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 1.4.
      Rule XV clause 2 requires the preparation of daily cumulative 
  lists of the names of those signing the petition. Such lists must be 
  made available for public inspection.

[[Page 455]]

      Additional signatures are not admitted after the requisite number 
  have been affixed. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 1.4. Under rule XV clause 2, a 
  signature may be withdrawn by a Member in writing at any time before 
  the petition is signed by the requisite number and entered on the 
  Journal. The signing of discharge motions by proxy is not permitted. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1014.


  Sec. 5 . -- Privilege and Precedence of Motions

      A motion to discharge a committee, when called up pursuant to the 
  provisions of the discharge rule, is privileged; and the Speaker may 
  decline to recognize for a matter not related to the proceedings. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1010. Such motions take precedence over business merely 
  privileged under the general rules of the House. 7 Cannon Sec. 1011. 
  The motion takes precedence over motions to resolve into Committee of 
  the Whole (7 Cannon Sec. Sec. 1016, 1017), over unfinished business 
  (Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.4), and over motions to suspend the rules (7 
  Cannon Sec. 1018). However, prior to the consideration of a motion to 
  discharge, the Speaker may in his discretion recognize for one-minute 
  speeches by unanimous consent. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.8.


  Sec. 6 . -- Calling Up and Debating the Motion

                                 Generally

      Under rule XV clause 2, a motion to discharge that has been on the 
  Discharge Calendar at least seven days may be called up for 
  consideration on the second and fourth Mondays of each month except 
  during the last six days of a session. The consideration of such a 
  motion may be made in order on a day other than the specified Mondays 
  by unanimous consent. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.5. The House may dispense 
  with a motion to discharge by unanimous consent and agree to consider 
  the underlying matter on a date certain under the same terms as if 
  discharged by motion. Manual Sec. 892.
      To call up the motion, a Member must qualify as having signed the 
  discharge petition. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.6.

                            Intervening Motions

      Rule XV clause 2 does not permit intervening motions except for 
  one motion to adjourn. Accordingly, it has been held that when a 
  motion to discharge a committee is called up, it is not in order to 
  move to table the motion or to move to postpone consideration thereof 
  to a day certain. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. Sec. 3.14, 3.15.

[[Page 456]]

                             Debate on Motion

      Debate on the motion to discharge is limited to 20 minutes--10 
  minutes under the control of the proponent and 10 minutes under the 
  control of the Member recognized in opposition. Manual Sec. 892. The 
  Speaker has denied recognition for requests to extend the time. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1010.
      The 20-minute period for debate is divided according to position 
  on the pending matter and not according to membership in a particular 
  political party. 7 Cannon Sec. 1010. The proponents of a motion to 
  discharge are entitled to open and close debate on the motion. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1010a; Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.13. The chairman of the 
  committee being discharged, if opposed, is ordinarily recognized to 
  control the 10 minutes in opposition. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 3.10.
      A Member recognized to control half of the debate on the motion 
  may yield part of his time to another Member, but that Member may not 
  yield part of that time to a third Member. Deschler Ch 18 
  Sec. Sec. 3.11, 3.12.


  Sec. 7 . -- Consideration of Discharged Measure; Forms

                 Motion to Consider the Discharged Measure

      Under rule XV clause 2, following agreement to a motion to 
  discharge a measure pending before a committee, it is in order for any 
  Member who signed the motion to move to proceed to the immediate 
  consideration of that measure. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 4.3. The motion to 
  consider the measure is privileged and is decided without debate. 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 4.3. If the motion for immediate consideration is 
  adopted, the legislation is taken up under the general rules of the 
  House. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. Sec. 4.4, 4.6. Otherwise, the discharged 
  measure is referred to its proper calendar. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 4.7.
      Under the modern practice of the House, most discharge motions 
  propose to discharge the Committee on Rules from further consideration 
  of a resolution pending before that committee. Under rule XV clause 2, 
  if that motion is adopted, the House immediately considers the 
  resolution. The Speaker may not entertain any dilatory or other 
  intervening motion except one motion to adjourn. Deschler Ch 18 
  Sec. 4. Amendments to the resolution are not in order, unless the 
  previous question is not ordered. Manual Sec. 892. If the discharged 
  resolution is adopted, the House then considers the discharged measure 
  under the terms of the resolution.

                 Motions to Expedite Consideration; Debate

      A bill having been discharged pursuant to the rule, its proponents 
  are entitled to recognition for allowable motions to expedite 
  consideration of the discharged measure. 7 Cannon Sec. 1012. Measures 
  requiring consideration in

[[Page 457]]

  Committee of the Whole are taken up therein. 7 Cannon Sec. 1021; 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 4.4. Where the discharged measure does not require 
  consideration in Committee of the Whole, the Member who offered the 
  motion for its immediate consideration is recognized in the House 
  under the hour rule. Manual Sec. 892. For example, when a joint 
  resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution was considered 
  in the House pursuant to a motion to discharge, the proponent of the 
  joint resolution was recognized to control one hour of debate. 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 4.6. However, a special order discharged from the 
  Committee on Rules under this procedure normally specifies all the 
  procedures under which the underlying bill is to be considered.
      Under rule XV clause 2, the bill to which the discharge motion 
  applies is read by title only and may not be read in its entirety. 7 
  Cannon Sec. 1019a.
      The point of order provided by rule XXI clause 4--interdicting 
  provisions containing appropriations not reported by the Committee on 
  Appropriations--does not apply to an appropriation in a bill that has 
  been taken away from the committee by the motion to discharge. Manual 
  Sec. 892; 7 Cannon Sec. 1019a.

                                   Form

      Member: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to clause 2 of rule XV, I call up 
    the petition to discharge the Committee on  __________ from the 
    further consideration of the bill, H.R.  __________.
          Or
      Mr. Speaker, under the rule, I call up the petition to discharge 
    the Committee on Rules from the further consideration of the 
    resolution, H. Res.  __________, providing for consideration of the 
    bill, H.R.  __________.
      Speaker: Did the gentleman sign the petition?
      Member: I did, Mr. Speaker.
      Speaker: The gentleman from  __________ calls up a motion to 
    discharge the Committee on  __________ from the further 
    consideration of the bill [resolution] which the Clerk will report 
    by title.
      Speaker: The gentleman from  __________ is entitled to ten minutes 
    in favor of the motion, and the gentleman from  __________ is 
    entitled to ten minutes in opposition. The gentleman from  
    __________ [proponent of the motion] is recognized.
      Speaker: The time of the gentleman has expired. All time has 
    expired. The question is on the motion to discharge the Committee on 
     __________ from further consideration of the bill (or resolution). 
    As many as favor the motion will say ``Aye.'' As many as are opposed 
    say ``No.''
      Speaker: The ayes have it and the motion is agreed to. The 
    committee is discharged.

[[Page 458]]

  Sec. 8 . Discharge of Matters Privileged Under the Constitution

      Certain matters arising under the Constitution are privileged for 
  consideration at any time and may therefore be discharged at any time 
  irrespective of the requirements for petitions under the discharge 
  rule, subject to a two-day notice and scheduling requirement under 
  rule IX. Examples include propositions to discipline a Member and 
  impeachment resolutions. Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 5. Similarly, a motion to 
  discharge a committee from the further consideration of a vetoed bill 
  that has been returned to the House and referred back to committee by 
  the House presents a privileged question and is in order at any time. 
  Deschler Ch 18 Sec. 5.1. It is likewise in order to move to discharge 
  a proposition involving the right of a Member to his seat. See 
  discussion in 8 Cannon Sec. 2316; generally, see Questions of 
  Privilege.
      Although a motion to discharge a committee from the consideration 
  of a vetoed bill is privileged and debatable, that motion is subject 
  to the motion to lay on the table but remains renewable on a 
  subsequent day. Manual Sec. 108; 4 Hinds Sec. 3532; Deschler Ch 18 
  Sec. 5.1.


  Sec. 9 . Discharge of Resolutions of Disapproval; Statutory Motions

      Congressional actions approving or disapproving certain executive 
  branch decisions are sometimes made subject, by statute, to automatic 
  discharge or to a motion to discharge after the lapse of a certain 
  period of time. For various examples, see Manual Sec. 1130.