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[Congressional Record: July 24, 2001 (Extensions)]
[Page E1417-E1418]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                       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

[[Page E1418]]

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 
naval record.
  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 
Public Laws.
  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 
legislative day.
  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.