[Congressional Record: July 24, 2001 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
PRIVATE CALENDAR AGREEMENT
HON. HOWARD COBLE
of north carolina
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, July 24, 2001
Mr. COBLE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to set
forth some of the history behind, as well as describe the workings of
the Private Calendar. I hope this might be of some value to the Members
of this House, especially our newer colleagues.
Of the five House Calendars, the Private Calendar is the one to which
all Private Bills are referred. Private Bills deal with specific
individuals, corporations, institutions, and so forth, as distinguished
from public bills which deal with classes only.
Of the 108 laws approved by the First Congress, only 5 were Private
Laws. But their number quickly grew as the wars of the new Republic
produced veterans and veterans' widows seeking pensions and as more
citizens came to have private claims and demands against the Federal
Government. The 49th Congress, 1885 to 1887, the first Congress for
which complete workload and output data is available, passed 1,031
Private Laws, as compared with 434 Public Laws. At the turn of the
century the 56th Congress passed 1,498 Private Laws and 443 Public
Laws--a better than three to one ratio.
Private bills were referred to the Committee on the Whole House as
far back as 1820, and a calendar of private bills was established in
1839. These bills were initially brought before the House by special
orders, but the 62nd
Congress changed this procedure by its rule XXIV, clause six which
provided for the consideration of the Private Calendar in lieu of
special orders. This rule was amended in 1932, and then adopted in its
present form on March 22, 1935.
A determined effort to reduce the private bill workload of the
Congress was made in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.
Section 131 of that Act banned the introduction or the consideration of
four types of private bills: first, those authorizing the payment of
money for pensions; second, for personal or property damages for which
suit may be brought under the Federal tort claims procedure; third,
those authorizing the construction of a bridge across a navigable
stream, or fourth, those authorizing the correction of a military or
This ban afforded some temporary relief but was soon offset by the
rising postwar and cold war flood for private immigration bills. The
82nd Congress passed 1,023 Private Laws, as compared with 594 Public
Laws. The 88th Congress passed 360 Private Laws compared with 666
Under rule XXIV, clause six, the Private Calendar is called the first
and third Tuesday of each month. The consideration of the Private
Calendar bills on the first
On the first Tuesday of each month, after disposition of business on
the Speaker's table for reference only, the Speaker directs the call of
the Private Calendar. If a bill called is objected to by two or more
Members, it is automatically recommitted to the Committee reporting it.
No reservation of objection is entertained. Bills unobjected to are
considered in the House in the Committee of the Whole.
On the third Tuesday of each month, the same procedure is followed
with the exception that omnibus bills embodying bills previously
rejected have preference and are in order regardless of objection.
Such omnibus bills are read by paragraph, and no amendments are
entertained except to strike out or reduce amounts or provide
limitations. Matters so stricken out shall not be again included in an
omnibus bill during that session. Debate is limited to motions
allowable under the rule and does not admit motions to strike out the
last word or reservation of objections. The rules prohibit the Speaker
from recognizing Members for statements or for requests for unanimous
consent for debate. Omnibus bills so passed are thereupon resolved in
their component bills, which are engrossed separately and disposed of
as if passed separately.
Private Calendar bills unfinished on one Tuesday go over to the next
Tuesday on which such bills are in order and are considered before the
call of bills subsequently on the calendar. Omnibus bills follow the
same procedure and go over to the next Tuesday on which that class of
business is again in order. When the previous question is ordered on a
Private Calendar bill, the bill comes up for disposition on the next
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to describe to the newer Members the
Official Objectors system the House has established to deal with the
great volume of Private Bills.
The Majority Leader and the Minority Leader each appoint three
Members to serve as Private Calendar Objectors during a Congress. The
Objectors are on the Floor ready to object to any Private Bill which
they feel is objectionable for any reason. Seated near them to provide
technical assistance are the majority and minority legislative clerks.
Should any Member have a doubt or question about a particular Private
Bill, he or she can get assistance from objectors, their clerks, or
from the Member who introduced the bill.
The great volume of private bills and the desire to have an
opportunity to study them carefully before they are called on the
Private Calendar has caused the six objectors to agree upon certain
ground rules. The rules limit consideration of bills placed on the
Private Calendar only shortly before the calendar is called. With this
agreement adopted on July 24, 2001, the Members of the Private Calendar
Objectors Committee have agreed that during the 107th Congress, they
will consider only those bills which have been on the Private Calendar
for a period of seven (7) days, excluding the day the bill is reported
and the day the calendar is called. Reports must be available to the
Objectors for three (3) calendar days.
It is agreed that the majority and minority clerks will not submit to
the Objectors any bills which do not meet this requirement.
This policy will be strictly enforced except during the closing days
of a session when the House rules are suspended.
This agreement was entered into by: the gentleman from North Carolina
(Mr. Coble), the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Barr), the gentleman from
Ohio (Mr. Chabot), the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Boucher), and the
gentlelady from Connecticut (Mrs. DeLauro).
I feel confident that I speak from my colleagues when I request all
Members to enable us to give the necessary advance considerations to
private bills by not asking that we depart from the above agreement
unless absolutely necessary.
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