Voting and Quorum Procedures in the Senate
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Constitution states that “a Majority of each [House] shall constitute a quorum to do
business.... ” The Senate presumes that it is complying with this requirement and that a quorum
always is present unless and until the absence of a quorum is suggested or demonstrated. This
presumption allows the Senate to conduct its business on the floor with fewer than 51 Senators
present until a Senator “suggests the absence of a quorum.”
When the absence of a quorum is suggested, the presiding officer directs the clerk to call the roll.
Except when the Senate has invoked cloture, the presiding officer may not count to determine if a
quorum is present. The Senate cannot resume its business until a majority of Senators respond to
the quorum call or unless, by unanimous consent, “further proceedings under the quorum call are
dispensed with” before the last Senator’s name has been called. If a quorum fails to respond, the
Senate may adjourn or take steps necessary to secure the attendance of enough Senators to
constitute a quorum. Usually, the Senate will then have a roll call vote on agreeing to a motion
that instructs the sergeant at arms to request the attendance of absent Senators. The results of that
vote typically establish that a quorum is present, so the sergeant at arms rarely needs to go
looking for absent Senators.
Typically, quorum calls are not used to bring Senators to the floor, but rather as a kind of “time
out” while the Senate is in session. Senators “suggest the absence of a quorum” to suspend the
Senate’s formal floor proceedings temporarily. There are many purposes for such quorum calls.
For example, they can be used to permit informal discussions that are intended to resolve a policy
disagreement or procedural problem, or to allow a Senator to reach the floor in order to make a
speech or begin consideration of a bill. When a quorum call is used for such a purpose, it usually
is ended by unanimous consent before the call of the roll has been completed.
The Constitution also provides that “the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any
question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the Journal.” Any Senator
who has been recognized may “ask for the yeas and nays” on whatever question the Senate is
considering. If the yeas and nays are ordered at the request of at least 11 Senators (one-fifth of the
minimum quorum of 51), that determines the manner in which the vote will be conducted. The
timing of the vote is not determined by this request. A Senator may offer an amendment and
immediately ask for the yeas and nays, even if the vote is not expected to take place until hours or
If the yeas and nays are not ordered, the Senate votes on questions by voice vote. Alternatively, if
the presiding officer believes that the outcome is not in doubt, he or she may say that, “without
objection, the amendment (or motion, etc.) is agreed to.” If any Senator does object, a formal vote
Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
The Quorum Requirement and Quorum Calls.................................................................................1
Routine Quorum Calls...............................................................................................................2
Live Quorum Calls, Failed Quorums........................................................................................4
Securing and Conducting Rollcall Votes.........................................................................................5
Voice and Division Votes..........................................................................................................5
Ordering the Yeas and Nays......................................................................................................6
Conducting Rollcall Votes.........................................................................................................7
Simple and Extraordinary Majorities........................................................................................8
Author Contact Information............................................................................................................9
The rules and practices of the Senate governing quorums and voting are grounded in Article I of 1
the Constitution. Regarding quorums, clause 1 of Section 5 states in part that “a Majority of each
[House] shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to
day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and
under such Penalties as each House may provide.” Regarding voting, clause 3 of the same section
provides in part that “the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at
the Desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the Journal.”
This report discusses how the Senate now interprets and implements these two constitutional 2
provisions. What follows focuses on the most important rules and the most common practices; it
does not attempt to cover all the precedents the Senate has established or all the procedures that 3
may be invoked. This report also assumes a familiarity with some other aspects of the Senate’s
A straightforward reading of the Constitution’s quorum requirement would seem to require a
simple majority of Senators, or a minimum of 51 if there are no vacancies in the body, to be
present on the floor whenever the Senate conducts business. As any observer of the Senate soon
notices, typically only a handful of Senators are present during floor debates. It is unusual for as
many as 51 Senators to be present on the floor at the same time unless a rollcall vote is in
As a regular practice, however, the Senate presumes that it is complying with the Constitution.
Therefore, it presumes that a quorum always is present unless and until the absence of a quorum
is suggested or demonstrated:
The Senate operates on the presumption that a quorum is present at all times, under all
circumstances, unless the question to the contrary is raised, or the absence of a quorum is
officially shown, or until a point of no quorum is made even though a voice vote is taken and 4
announced in the meantime.
Under the Senate’s standing rules, if no other Senator has the floor,5 any Senator (including a 6
Senator who is presiding) may “suggest the absence of a quorum.” The presiding officer may not
1 This report was written by Stanley Bach, formerly a Senior Specialist in the Legislative Process at CRS. Dr. Bach has
retired, but the listed author updated the report and is available to answer questions concerning its contents.
2 The corresponding House rules, precedents, and practices are discussed in CRS Report 98-988, Voting and Quorum
Procedures in the House of Representatives.
3 On quorums and quorum calls generally, see Rule VI and U.S. Congress, Senate, Riddick’s Senate Procedure, 101st
Cong., 2d sess., Doc. 101-28, pp. 1038-1078. On voting procedures generally, see Rule XII and Riddick’s Senate
Procedure, pp. 1397-1436.
4 Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp. 1041-1042.
5 “One Senator cannot take another off the floor to suggest the absence of a quorum, nor can a Senator who has the
floor be interrupted by another against his consent for a quorum call. A quorum call is not in order when the Senator
holding the floor declines to yield for that purpose.” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1055.
respond to this statement by counting the number of Senators actually present, unless the Senate 7
is operating under cloture. At all other times, when a Senator suggests the absence of a quorum,
the presiding officer responds by directing the clerk to call the roll. Paragraph 3 of Rule VI
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
A quorum call formally begins when the clerk calls the first name. Once the quorum call has
begun, the Senate may not resume the conduct of business until a majority of Senators respond to
this call, or unless the Senate agrees by unanimous consent to “dispense with further proceedings
under the quorum call.” While the quorum call is in progress, no debate or motion is in order, nor
may the Senate act on any unanimous consent request except a request to dispense with the call.
Quorum calls in the Senate usually are not intended to secure the presence of Senators on the
floor. Instead, they are a useful and essential device by which the Senate can suspend its formal
proceedings temporarily. During the course of any session, Senators often “suggest the absence of
a quorum.” Later, but before the clerk has completed the alphabetical call of the roll, the Senate
agrees to a unanimous consent request to rescind the quorum call. A quorum call of this kind may
last for only moments or it may continue for an hour or more. The clerk calls the names of
Senators very slowly because it is not really the intent of the Senate to demonstrate a quorum,
rather the goal is to get a time out from the formal floor proceedings.
Because most quorum calls are intended to suspend the Senate’s floor proceedings, Senators feel
under no obligation to come to the floor to record their presence. So long as the Senate agrees by
unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call before the last Senator’s name is called, the
Senate can resume its business, because the absence of a quorum has not actually been
demonstrated. The presumption that a majority of Senators is present remains in force unless and
until the call of the roll is completed and less than a majority of Senators have responded. Only
then would it be demonstrated that the Senator was correct when he or she “suggested” the
absence of a quorum.
There are many reasons why Senators initiate quorum calls of this kind. For example, if a Senator
completes a statement and notices that no one else is on the floor and seeking recognition, the
Senator typically suggests the absence of a quorum. When another Senator then does appear and
wishes to speak, he or she first asks unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call that is in
progress. Alternatively, a quorum call may take place while the Senate awaits the arrival of a
Senator who is expected on the floor to manage a bill, offer an amendment, or make a speech.
When that Senator arrives, the Senate dispenses with the quorum call by unanimous consent and
proceeds with its business as planned.
6 For more on when a Senator may suggest the absence of a quorum, see Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp. 1062-1065.
7 “Cloture is the means by which the Senate limits debate on a measure or matter,” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp.
Quorum calls also create a valuable opportunity for informal discussions and negotiations among
Senators. When the Senate Majority Leader is trying to win the approval of his colleagues for a
unanimous consent agreement on a particular bill, and a Senator objects to the unanimous consent
request, the leader will frequently suggest the absence of a quorum and allow a quorum call to
begin. Then, he can speak directly with the Senator who had objected and find out if they can
reach an agreement on the issue, so as to allow the unanimous consent agreement to proceed.
The Senate’s rules, and especially the opportunities they create for filibusters, provide powerful
incentives for Senators to seek the widest possible agreement on the Senate’s schedule as well as
its policy decisions. Under most circumstances, any Senator can conduct a filibuster against any
measure or amendment or even against the motion that the Senate begin floor consideration of a
particular bill or resolution. This situation encourages Senators to seek the most generally
acceptable solutions to procedural problems and policy disagreements. In seeking these solutions,
it often is more convenient for Senators to engage in the necessary discussions and negotiations in
an informal manner, rather than under the rules of formal Senate debate. Quorum calls allow for
such informal consultations, which may take place either on or off the Senate floor.
When the Senate finds itself confronted with a procedural problem or policy disagreement, a
Senator often will respond by suggesting the absence of a quorum in the hope that the matter can
be resolved through informal conversations. When the conversations end, the Senate agrees to a
unanimous consent request to terminate the quorum call; the Senate’s formal proceedings then
resume. If the discussions were successful, a Senator may make a motion or unanimous consent
request that embodies whatever decision was reached during the quorum call. If the discussions
were inconclusive, a Senator may report on the progress that was made and then again suggest the
absence of a quorum so that the negotiations can resume.
Because of quorum calls, the Senate’s floor proceedings often have an unpredictable, “stop-and-
go” character. Its debates frequently are punctuated by quorum calls. On occasion, the Senate
even may spend much of the day in quorum calls. This frequent apparent lack of action does not
mean that Senators are not considering legislation while the quorum calls are in progress. It is
quite likely that many Senators are discussing the bill at issue or the procedures for considering it.
However, they are doing so informally (and off the public record), whether on or off the Senate
floor. In fact, it sometimes seems that the more contentious the issue the Senate is considering,
the more time is consumed by quorum calls.
There are two circumstances under which a Senator may not be able to initiate a quorum call
when no one else has control of the floor. First, when the Senate is operating under cloture, a
Senator may suggest the absence of a quorum, but the presiding officer is empowered to respond
by counting to determine whether or not a quorum actually is present. Only if he or she finds that
a quorum is not present does the presiding officer direct the clerk to call the roll. Also under
cloture, the presiding officer may decline to entertain quorum calls on the ground that they are
suggested for dilatory purposes, an authority that is likely to be exercised only under unusual
Second, when the Senate is operating under a time agreement, only a Senator who controls some
of the time for debate may suggest the absence of a quorum. A time agreement is a unanimous
consent agreement that limits and allocates control of the time for debating the pending question.
The time consumed by the quorum call is charged to the Senator who suggested the absence of a
quorum (unless the Senate agrees otherwise by unanimous consent). For this reason, the Senate’s
precedents indicate that a Senator must control at least 10 minutes of remaining time in order to
initiate a quorum call; this requirement evidently is intended to reflect some reckoning of how 8
long a quorum call is expected to last.
The alternative to the kind of routine quorum calls discussed above is a “live” quorum call in
which Senators actually are requested to come to the floor and record their presence.
There are three circumstances under which live quorum calls are most likely to occur. First, the
Senate’s rules provide for a live quorum call immediately preceding any cloture vote, and before
the Senate acts on a unanimous consent request to set a date for voting on whether to pass a bill or
joint resolution. Both these quorum calls may be dispensed with by unanimous consent, which is
frequently done when setting a date for a vote and sometimes done prior to cloture.
Second, the majority leader occasionally suggests the absence of a quorum and announces that
the quorum call is to be live because he wishes to bring Senators to the floor for some reason.
Third, should the clerk complete calling the roll for a routine quorum call without a majority of
Senators having responded to their names, the quorum call may become a live one.
In the case of a live quorum call, the clerk calls Senators’ names more quickly. At the end of the
call, the Senate resumes its business if a majority of Senators have responded. However, if the
clerk finishes calling the roll and the presiding officer announces that a majority of Senators have
failed to respond, the Senate cannot resume its business, including debate, nor can it dispense
with the quorum call by unanimous consent, because the absence of a quorum has been
In that event, the Senate usually has only two options: to adjourn or to take steps necessary to 9
establish a quorum. The usual recourse is for the majority leader to make a motion directing the 10
sergeant at arms to request the attendance of absent Senators. A rollcall vote is ordered on this
motion and, almost invariably, a majority of Senators do come to the floor to vote on the motion;
in the process, they demonstrate the presence of a quorum. “Then no further action on the quorum 11
call is necessary, a quorum having been established.”
8 “But, it has been equally well established by the precedents that any Senator has a right to call for a quorum before a
vote begins even if that Senator controlled no time, or even if there was an order that a vote occur at a time certain.
However, certain unanimous consent agreements have been interpreted to preclude quorum calls.” Riddick’s Senate
Procedure, p. 1038. For more on initiating quorum calls under time agreements and charging the time they consume,
see ibid., pp. 1066-1071.
9 Under paragraph 4 of Rule VI, the Senate also may consider and agree to a motion “to recess pursuant to a previous
order entered by unanimous consent.”
10 “[I]t is the practice in the Senate for the presiding officer to direct the clerk to call the names of the absent Senators
prior to the adoption of an order directing the sergeant at arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel their
attendance, but such practice is based on custom, and not on the requirement of any rule.” Riddick’s Senate Procedure,
11 Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 223.
If a quorum fails to vote, the Senate can, by motion, direct its sergeant at arms to compel the 12
attendance of absent Senators or even to arrest absentees in order to establish a quorum. In
modern practice, however, it rarely is necessary for the Senate to resort to such motions.
Generally, once a quorum is established as a result of a rollcall vote or a live quorum call, the 13
Senate must transact some business before another quorum call is in order. However, if the
Senate dispenses with a quorum call by unanimous consent before it is completed, a Senator
again may suggest the absence of a quorum without business having intervened.
There are three ways in which the Senate can conduct votes on the floor: by voice vote, by
division vote, or by rollcall vote. In practice, contested questions usually are decided by rollcall
votes; many uncontested questions are decided “without objection” and without the formality of
even a voice vote.
Unless a rollcall vote has been ordered in advance, any question first is to be put to a voice vote.
The presiding officer asks those in favor to respond “Aye,” and then those opposed to respond
“No,” and then announces the result. At that time, any Senator may request either a division vote
or a rollcall vote. In the case of a division vote, those in favor stand and are counted, followed by
those opposed. The presiding officer then announces which side has prevailed but does not
announce the number of Senators voting for or against. Division votes are relatively unusual in 14
current Senate practice and are not formally authorized by the Senate’s rules.
A voice or division vote is considered valid, no matter how many or how few Senators
participated, unless a Senator takes the initiative to challenge the vote, before the result is
announced, for violating the constitutional requirement that a quorum must be present for the
Senate to do business:
Until a point of no quorum has been raised, the Senate operates on the assumption that a
quorum is present, and even if only a few Senators are present, a measure may be passed or a
nomination agreed to ... Voice votes may be taken on the passage of a bill and if no question
of a quorum is raised, that action is final, even though a majority of the Senators did not
participate; the Senate operates on the absolute assumption that a quorum is always present 15
until a point of no quorum is made.
12 Under the constitutional authority quoted at the beginning of this report, a quorum need not vote on any motion to
secure the attendance of absent Senators. For more on securing the attendance of absent Senators, see Riddick’s Senate
Procedure, pp. 214-224.
13 For a discussion of what does and does not constitute business for this purpose, see Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp.
14 “There is no authority in the rules of the Senate for the method of voting by a division; the method is intended to
advise the presiding officer whether or not the majority of the Senators present favor or oppose a given question; and
the judgment of the Chair may be questioned by a resort to a rollcall,” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1404.
15 Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1038.
Although a Senator may ask for a rollcall vote on a question after a voice or division vote has
been conducted (but before the final result has been announced), rollcall votes usually are ordered
in advance. At any time that a bill, amendment, motion, or other matter actually is the pending 16
question before the Senate, a Senator who has the floor may “ask for the yeas and nays” on it.
As noted at the beginning of this report, the Constitution provides for the yeas and nays (a rollcall
vote) to be ordered at the request of one-fifth of those present. Because of the other constitutional
requirement—that a quorum must be present to conduct business—the Senate assumes that those
present constitute a quorum, and so requires that the request for a rollcall vote must be supported 17
by at least one-fifth of the smallest possible quorum.
Consequently, at least 11 Senators—one-fifth of the minimal quorum of 51 Senators—must raise 18
their hands to support a request for a rollcall vote. If there is sufficient support, the Senate
thereby determines that the question then pending before the Senate will be decided by a rollcall
vote whenever the time for voting arrives.
Ordering the yeas and nays on a question does not bring about an immediate vote, nor does it
have any effect at all on when the vote will occur, the motion only controls how the vote will be 19
conducted when it does occur. It is not at all unusual, for example, for a Senator to offer an
amendment and then immediately ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment even before the 20
debate on it has commenced. The actual vote may not take place until hours or even days later,
or it may not take place at all if, for example, the Senate votes instead to lay the amendment on
the table (and thereby kill it).
In principle, the support of more than 11 Senators sometimes may be required to order a roll call. 21
If a previous rollcall vote had taken place “recently,” there is precedent for assuming that all the
Senators who participated in that vote remained on the floor, so one-fifth of that number may be
required to order the subsequent roll call. This precedent is rarely invoked.
If the required number of Senators fail to support a request for a rollcall vote, any Senator may
renew the request (as often as necessary) at any time before the question is put to a vote. When a
16 Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1419. A Senator loses the floor when he or she asks for the yeas and nays.
17 In the absence of a quorum, however, one-fifth of the Senators present may demand the yeas and nays on any of the
few motions that are in order, such as the motion to adjourn.
18 It is within the discretion of the chair to decide whether a there is a sufficient second to order a rollcall vote, and, in
practice, votes are frequently ordered when there do not appear to be 11 Senators on the floor to support such a request.
But it is up to the chair to make that decision, and “It is not customary for the Chair to announce the number of
Senators who held up their hands to order the yeas and nays,” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1418.
19 Ordering the yeas and nays on an amendment does not preclude a Senator from moving to table the amendment. The
yeas and nays have to be ordered separately on the tabling motion.
20 Before the Senate orders the yeas and nays on an amendment, the Senator who offered it may modify or withdraw it
as a matter of right. After the yeas and nays have been ordered, the Senator loses the right to modify or withdraw the
amendment but gains the right to offer an amendment to his or her own amendment.
21 “[T]he Chair makes his calculations of one-fifth of those present on the basis of the number who voted at the last
rollcall, if that occurred recently.” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1418. For example, “[a] demand for the yeas and
nays immediately following a call of the Senate is seconded by one-fifth of those answering such call, or immediately
following a yea and nay vote, seconded by one-fifth of those voting.” Ibid., p. 1417.
Senator is insistent on having a rollcall vote on some motion, amendment, or measure, the Senate
usually will support his or her request.
If a roll call has been ordered, when the time to vote arrives, the presiding officer states that “the
yeas and nays have been ordered and the clerk will call the roll.” The clerk proceeds to do so and
the vote is deemed to have begun only after a Senator actually votes when his or her name is
called. At that time, a system of bells and lights is activated throughout the Senate wing of the
Capitol building and the Senate office buildings to inform Senators that they have 15 minutes in
which to come to the floor and vote. The bells ring again as a reminder when half of this time has
expired. The 15-minute period for voting is set by a unanimous consent agreement, normally on
the first day each Congress meets.
During a rollcall vote, the clerk calls the names of all Senators in alphabetical order, and then
reads the names of those voting in the affirmative followed by those voting in the negative.
Thereafter, when another Senator wishes to vote, he or she comes to the well (the open area
between the rostrum and Senators’ desks); the clerk calls the Senator’s name and then repeats the
Senator’s vote. Senators coming to the well frequently consult tally sheets kept at the tables
staffed by Republican and Democratic floor aides in order to observe how their colleagues are 22
Every Senator is expected to vote on each roll call unless, under paragraph 3 of Rule XII, “he
believes that his voting on such a matter would be a conflict of interest.” If a Senator declines to
vote for any other reason, paragraph 2 of the same rule prescribes a procedure for the Senator to
explain his or her reason and for the Senate to decide if that reason is sufficient; this procedure is
very rarely invoked.
For a rollcall vote to be constitutionally valid, a majority of Senators must vote, answer “Present,” 23
or announce that they have live pairs and refrain from voting for that reason. If less than a
majority is present on a rollcall vote, a quorum call usually ensues. Once a quorum is established,
a new vote takes place on the question before the Senate (in other words, the question is put de 24
The presiding officer may announce the result of the vote at any time after the 15-minute period
and after inquiring whether there are other Senators in the chamber wishing to vote. Alternatively,
any Senator may demand the “regular order,” which would be to announce the result of the vote.
22 Senators are required to vote from their desks, but this requirement rarely is enforced. On occasion, when a vote of
special constitutional importance, such as a vote to convict in an impeachment trial, is about to begin, the majority
leader will ask all Senators to come to the floor before the vote begins and then to vote from their desks, each Senator
rising and responding when his or her name is called. See Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp. 1403-1404.
23 Pairing is a voluntary arrangement between individual Senators to offset their votes on a rollcall vote, so that if one
of the Senators needs to be absent it is offset by another member who does not cast his vote. “When less than a quorum
votes, but the addition of names of Senators present and paired and announcing votes made a quorum, the vote is
valid.” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1431.
24 “A yea and nay vote by less than quorum is not valid unless a sufficient number is present and paired to make a
quorum.” Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1075. “Where less than a quorum votes, as disclosed by a yea and nay vote,
the next business is for the presiding officer to direct a call of the roll to develop a quorum.” Ibid., p. 1064.
Alternatively, the Senate may vote to adjourn.
With the guidance of the majority leader, however, the time for voting often is extended long
enough to allow as many Senators as possible to reach the floor and vote. On occasion, votes
have been left open well beyond the prescribed 15-minute period in order to accommodate
Senators who are hurrying to Capitol Hill from other locations.
A Senator may not have his or her vote recorded after the result of a rollcall vote has been
announced. By unanimous consent, however, the Senate may a permit a Senator who has voted to
change or withdraw that vote. Paragraph 1 of Rule XII states in part that:
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.
If the yeas and nays are not ordered on the pending question, that usually indicates that there is no
uncertainty among Senators about what the outcome will be. In that case, when the time comes to
act, the presiding officer often states that, “without objection, the amendment is agreed to” (or the
bill is passed, etc.). “This is merely an abbreviated way of putting the question on a voice vote,
and does not imply that the proposition can be defeated by one objection. However, any Senator 25
may object to putting the question in this manner,” in which case the question is decided by
voice, division, or rollcall vote.
Immediately after the presiding officer announces the result of a vote, one Senator often makes a
motion to reconsider, another (or even the same Senator) moves to lay that motion on the table,
and the presiding officer announces that, without objection, the motion to table is agreed to. The
Senate’s rules allow it one opportunity to reconsider most of the votes it takes. A motion to
reconsider may be made only by a Senator who voted on the prevailing side or a Senator who did
not vote. When such a motion is made and the Senate then agrees to table (or kill) it, that
consumes the one opportunity to reconsider, and makes the result of the vote final. In most cases,
a motion to reconsider is made and tabled routinely; in the case of a very close and seriously
contested rollcall vote, however, there may be another roll call in connection with a 26
All questions are to be decided on the Senate floor by simple majority vote unless a constitutional
provision or Senate rule or precedent provides otherwise. A simple majority vote is defined as at
least 50% plus one of the Senators voting, provided that a quorum is present.
The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to
• expel a Senator,
• override a presidential veto,
• adopt a proposed constitutional amendment,
25 Riddick’s Senate Procedure, p. 1397.
26 See Rule XIII and Riddick’s Senate Procedure, pp. 1124-1149, for more on reconsideration.
• convict upon impeachment,
• give the Senate’s advice and consent to ratification of a treaty,
• determine that a president remains disabled, and
• remove political disabilities (now obsolete).
The Senate’s precedents require the support of two-thirds of those voting, a quorum being
present, to suspend the rules or to postpone indefinitely the consideration of a treaty. To invoke
cloture (under Rule XXII), a vote of three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn usually is
required; however, on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, cloture requires a vote of
two-thirds of the Senators present and voting. Also under cloture, the 30 hours available for post-
cloture consideration may be extended by a vote of three-fifths of all Senators duly chosen and
Finally, the Senate currently requires a vote of three-fifths of all Senators duly chosen and sworn
to set aside various procedures and prohibitions of the congressional budget process, either by
agreeing to motions waiving them or by overturning rulings of the Chair on appeal. These budget
process requirements are itemized and discussed in CRS Report 97-865, Points of Order in the
Congressional Budget Process, by James V. Saturno.
Analyst on the Congress and Legislative Process