The Senate's Calendar of Business

The Senate’s Calendar of Business
Betsy Palmer
Analyst on the Congress and Legislative Process
Government and Finance Division
The Senate’s Calendar of Business lists bills, resolutions, and other items of
legislative business that are eligible for floor consideration. When a Senate committee
reports a bill, it is said to be placed “on the calendar.” It is not in order for the majority
leader or any other Senator to move that the Senate proceed to the consideration of a
measure that is not on the calendar, though, the majority leader could ask unanimous
consent to do so. A Senate measure that is not on the calendar either has been referred
to a committee and is awaiting committee action, or it is being “held at the desk” by
unanimous consent. Being held at the desk means it is awaiting a decision to refer it to
committee, to place it on the calendar, or to bring it directly to the floor for consideration
by unanimous consent. For more information on legislative process, see
[] .1
The Senate’s other calendar, the Executive Calendar, lists treaties and nominations
— which constitute the Senate’s executive business — that are available for floor action.
Both of these documents are published each day the Senate is in session and distributed
to Senators’ personal offices and to all committee and subcommittee offices. There are
no cumulative issues of the Calendar of Business; each issue documents the status of the
Senate’s legislative business as of its publication. The Calendar of Business is available
on the Legislative Information System website at [
The following is a summary of the contents of the Calendar of Business.
General Orders
When Senators speak of the calendar, they usually are referring to a list printed in
the Calendar of Business called “General Orders, under Rule VIII.” This is a list made
up of all measures that committees have reported to the Senate and any bills and joint
resolutions that, under the provisions of Rule XIV, Senators have had placed directly on
the calendar without having been referred to committee. Each measure on this list is
given an “order number” that reflects the chronological order in which it was placed on

1 This report was written by Stanley Bach, formerly a Senior Specialist in the Legislative Process
at CRS. The listed author updated the report and is available to answer questions concerning its

the calendar during the two-year Congress. Following the order number are columns
displaying: the number of the measure (e.g., S. 1 or H.R. 2); its sponsor, if it is a Senate
measure; its title; and the date and manner in which it was placed on the calendar. This
last column provides details on how the measure was placed on the calendar. It shows
whether the measure was placed directly on the calendar without being referred to
committee, whether the measure is an original bill drafted in committee, or whether the
measure was reported from committee with or without amendment. The column also
shows whether the measure is accompanied by a written committee report and whether
that report contains additional or minority views.
Other Contents
The front cover of the Calendar of Business gives the dates on which each session
of the current Congress convened and adjourned sine die and the number of days the
Senate actually has met during each session. It also shows the date and time at which the
Senate is next scheduled to convene. Also, the calendar lists any unfinished business or
business that is pending before the Senate and any unanimous consent agreements that
continue to apply to legislative business that the Senate is considering.
On the back cover is a convenient chart that shows the history of legislative action
on, and the current status of, appropriations bills during the current session of Congress.
Also included in the Calendar of Business are the following:
!calendars for the current month and year, showing the days on which the
Senate met and the anticipated dates of future non-legislative periods;
!a list of Senators and the year in which each Senator’s term will expire;
!Senate committee membership and Senate members of joint committees;
!a cross index of order numbers and measure numbers for the bills and
resolutions listed under “General Orders”;
!a list of any “resolutions and motions over, under the rule.” The list
includes any simple and concurrent Senate resolutions that have been
placed directly on the calendar instead of being referred to committee.
This happens when there is objection to the immediate consideration of
a simple or concurrent resolution that a Senator has just submitted. The
resolution must lie over one legislative day, under paragraph 6 of Rule
XIV, before it is eligible for consideration on the floor;
!“bills and joint resolutions read the first time” and awaiting the start of
the next legislative day when they will read by title for a second time;
after this second reading, each such measure probably will be placed
directly on the calendar instead of being referred to committee;
!a list of “subjects on the table” but still eligible for consideration; there
are rarely, if ever, any subjects listed here;
!motions for reconsideration that Senators have entered for later Senate
action; on rare occasions, a Senator will enter such a motion instead of
making it for the Senate to consider immediately; and
!a list of bills that have been sent to conference, including, for each, the
names of the House and Senate conferees and the dates on which the
House or Senate agreed to the conference report.