Senate Procedure For Considering a Message from the House

CPI Staff — Monday, December 10, 2018

In Senate procedural terms, a “Message” is a bill that has been amended in the House and sent back to the Senate. The Senate can do several things with the amendment —

  • Concur (i.e. pass the bill with the House Amendment)
  • Concur with an Amendment (i.e. amend the bill and send back to the House)
  • Refer the bill to Committee (with or without instructions)

Messages from the House are privileged. In other words, the motion to proceed is non-debatable. This means it cannot be filibustered and the bill can be brought before the Senate with 51 votes.

The amendment tree looks somewhat similar to the tree on normal bills, but the terminology is different. The amendments are called “motions to concur with amendment.”

The timeline is simple.

  • Lay the bill before the Senate (majority vote)
  • File cloture on the motion to concur
  • Fill the tree on the motion to concur
  • Cloture ripens (usually over a weekend)
  • Vote on cloture (usually on a Monday night)
  • Pass the bill and send to the President, 30 hours after the cloture vote.

The most recent example of this process being used was on the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which was added by the House to an unrelated “shell” (the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act of 2017).

  • Friday Sept 28, McConnell laid the bill before the Senate, filled the tree and filed cloture.
  • 5:30 P.M. Monday October 1, Cloture invoked.
  • 12:00 P.M. Wednesday October 3, the bill passed.

This is what the amendment tree looked like.

Amendment Tree

Here is the transcript of Friday’s proceedings.

SPORTS MEDICINE LICENSURE CLARITY ACT OF 2017

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I understand the Senate has received a
message from the House to accompany H.R. 302.
The ACTING PRESIDENT Pro Tempore. The Senator is correct.
Mr. McCONNELL. I move that the Chair lay before the Senate the
message to accompany H.R. 302.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The question is on agreeing to the
motion.
The motion was agreed to.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore laid before the Senate the following
message from the House of Representatives:

Resolved, that the House agree to the amendment of the
Senate to the bill (H.R. 302) entitled “An Act to provide
protections for certain sports medicine professionals who
provide certain medical services in a secondary State,” with
an amendment to the Senate amendment.

Motion to Concur

Mr. McCONNELL. I move to concur in the House amendment to the Senate
amendment.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] moves to concur
in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 302.

Cloture Motion

Mr. McCONNELL. I send a cloture motion to the desk on the motion to
concur.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The cloture motion having been
presented under rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the
motion.
The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

Cloture Motion

We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the
provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate,
do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to
concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.
302, an act to provide protections for certain sports
medicine professionals who provide certain medical services
in a secondary State.
Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Johnny Isakson, Orrin G.
Hatch, Lamar Alexander, John Boozman, Jerry Moran, Mike
Crapo, Thom Tillis, Roger F. Wicker, Todd Young, John
Thune, Tim Scott, Deb Fischer, John Barrasso, Roy
Blunt, Cory Gardner.

Motion to Concur with Amendment No. 4026

Mr. McCONNELL. I move to concur in the House amendment with a further
amendment.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] moves to concur
in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 302,
with an amendment numbered 4026.

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the
amendment be dispensed with.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
ordered.
The amendment is as follows:

At the end add the following.
“This Act shall take effect 1 day after the date of
enactment.”

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask for the yeas and nays on my amendment.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.

Amendment No. 4027 to Amendment No. 4026

Mr. McCONNELL. I have a second-degree amendment at the desk.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an
amendment numbered 4027 to amendment No. 4026.

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the
amendment be dispensed with.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
ordered.
The amendment is as follows:

Strike “1 day” and insert “2 days”

Motion to Refer With Amendment No. 4028

Mr. McCONNELL. I move to refer the House message on H.R. 302 to the
Committee on Commerce with instructions to report back forthwith.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] moves to refer
the message to accompany H.R. 302 to the Committee on
Commerce with instructions, being amendment numbered 4028.

The amendment is as follows:

At the end add the following.
“This Act shall take effect 3 days after the date of
enactment.”

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask for the yeas and nays on my motion.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.

Amendment No. 4029

Mr. McCONNELL. I have an amendment to the instructions.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an
amendment numbered 4029 to the instructions of the motion to
refer H.R. 302.

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the
amendment be dispensed with.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
ordered.
The amendment is as follows:

Strike “3 days” and insert “4 days”

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask for the yeas and nays on my amendment.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.

Amendment No. 4030 to Amendment No. 4029

Mr. McCONNELL. I have a second-degree amendment at the desk.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an
amendment numbered 4030 to amendment No. 4029.

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the
amendment be dispensed with.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
ordered.
The amendment is as follows:

Strike “4” and insert “5”

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call
be waived.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
ordered.