Queen-of-the-Hill Rules in the House of Representatives
Queen-of-the-Hill Rules in the
House of Representatives
Megan Suzanne Lynch
Analyst on the Congress and Legislative Process
Government and Finance Division
Special Rules and the Amending Process
A special rule is a House resolution intended to regulate floor consideration of a
specific legislative measure named in the resolution. When adopted by the House, the
requirements prescribed by a special rule can supersede the standing rules of the House
(as well as rulemaking provisions in statutes such as the Congressional Budget Act), but
only in application to the measure named. Special rules serve two key functions: (1) to
enable the House to consider a specified measure, and (2) to establish terms for
considering it, including any modifications of the amending process. This report concerns
one specific set of modifications commonly referred to as a “queen-of-the-hill” rule.
The amending process normally does not allow for amendments that would amend
text that has already been amended. As a result, once a substitute for the full text of a
measure has been adopted, no further amendments are in order, since any would constitute
attempts to re-amend amended text. However, special rules occasionally provide that an
amendment be in order “notwithstanding the adoption of a previous amendment.” Such
a structure can be used to afford the House the opportunity to vote in succession on each
of several competing alternatives for the same text. For more information on legislative
process, see [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml].
Typically, when a queen-of-the-hill structure has been used, any substitutes made in
order are not themselves subject to further amendment. In some instances, however, such
as with the H.Res. 442 (for considering H.R. 2183, the campaign finance reform bill in
the 105th Congress), amendments in the nature of substitutes to a bill that are made in
order as part of a queen-of-the-hill structure may be subject to amendment as well.
King-of-the-Hill: Predecessor to Queen-of-the-Hill
Beginning in 1981, the House Rules Committee developed a standard form for
special rules that would provide a structure for the House to consider a series of
alternative amendments to the same text. These rules were called king-of-the-hill rules
because they provided that, if more than one alternative were adopted, the last one that
secured a majority vote would be the one considered as finally adopted. Initially, king-of-
the-hill rules were used infrequently (only three times in the 97th Congress and twice in
nature of a substitute for the concurrent resolution on the budget. However, over time,
king-of-the-hill rules came to be used somewhat more frequently (peaking at 19 king-of-st
the-hill structures in 15 special rules in the 101 Congress, out of a total of 115 special
rules adopted for the consideration of bills and resolutions), and for a wider variety of
measures. Special rules could also incorporate one or more king-of-the-hill structures for
considering alternatives for a portions of a measure, such as a single title or section. Forth
example, H.Res. 435 and H.Res. 436 (100 Congress) incorporated 10 separate king-of-
the-hill structures for considering alternatives to different provisions in H.R. 4264 (the
Department of Defense authorization). In all, between 1981 and 1994, 88 king-of-the-hill
structures were provided in 63 special rules.1 Because king-of-the-hill rules provided that
only the last alternative to secure a majority vote would be considered as adopted, the
perception developed that the order in which amendments could be offered had a
significant effect on outcomes. However, more than one alternative was adopted in only
a small number of instances (in 81 of the 88 king-of-the-hill structures identified, one or2
none of the alternatives were adopted).
Beginning in 1995, the Rules Committee has occasionally used a modified form for
special rules allowing multiple alternatives to be voted on regardless of the results of any
previous votes. In this modification, if more than one alternative obtains a majority, the
one that is considered as finally adopted is the one that receives the greatest number of
votes. These rules have been termed queen-of-the-hill or “most votes wins” rules. In all
other respects, the queen-of-the-hill structure works in the same manner as its
predecessor. The Rules Committee has reported queen-of-the-hill rules infrequently; onththth
three occasions in the 104 Congress, twice in the 105 Congress, and once in the 107
Congress. No queen-of-the-hill rules have been reported since the 107th Congress.
Table 1. Queen-of-the-Hill Rules
104thH.Res. 44H.J.Res. 1 (Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment)6a
104thH.Res. 116H.J.Res. 73 (Term Limits Constitutional Amendment)4
104thH.Res. 119H.R. 4 (Personal Responsibility Act of 1995)3
105thH.Res. 47H.J.Res. 2 (Term Limits Constitutional Amendment)11
105thH.Res. 442H.R. 2183 (Campaign Finance Reform)11
107thH.Res. 344H.R. 2356 (Campaign Finance Reform)3
a. Two alternatives adopted. For all other cases shown in this table, one or none of the alternatives was adopted.
1 One additional king-of-the-hill rule was adopted in the 103rd Congress, but the measure made
in order was not considered by the House. In some cases, although a special rule allowed for a
king-of-the-hill structure, one or more of the alternatives made in order were not offered.
2 In two of these cases the last alternative adopted was also the one that received the most votes.
In one other instance, a motion to recommit allowed for amendment language, which had been
adopted and superseded under a king-of-the-hill provision, to be readopted.