Proxy Voting and Polling in Senate Committee Page: 1 of 6
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Order Code RS22952
September 16, 2008
~. CRS Report for Congress
Proxy Voting and Polling in
Christopher M. Davis
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process
Government and Finance Division
In an effort to operate efficiently despite the competing scheduling demands placed
on its members, all Senate standing committees permit "proxy voting" in some instances
and many of them permit certain questions to be "polled." Proxy voting is a practice
whereby an absent Senator authorizes a second, present, Senator to cast his or her vote
in addition to their own during a committee markup meeting. When polling, a
committee or subcommittee asks its members to approve questions relating to legislation
or internal committee business without formally meeting. Under Senate rules and
precedents, committees have significant freedom to regulate their use of proxies and
polls. Proxy votes may not be used, however, to constitute the quorum necessary to
successfully order a committee report. In addition, Senators must be informed about and
affirmatively request to vote by proxy on the motion to report. With respect to polling,
Senate rules do not permit committees to order a measure or matter reported to the
Senate by poll.
Proxy voting is a practice by which an absent Senator authorizes a second, present,
Senator to cast his or her vote, in addition to their own, during a committee markup
meeting.' The standing rules of the Senate give each Senate committee the discretion to
permit or ban proxy voting by its members. In the 110th Congress (2007-2008), every
Senate standing committee, and all but one Senate select or special committee, has
adopted rules permitting proxy voting in at least some circumstances.2 Some, but not all,
Senate committees require proxy votes to be authorized in writing, often by letter (Figure
Voting by proxy is not permitted on the Senate floor. The House of Representative bans proxy
voting both in its committees and on the floor.
2 The Senate Special Committee on Aging has not adopted a proxy voting rule. It does not have
legislative jurisdiction, and thus may have less need for the practice.
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Proxy Voting and Polling in Senate Committee, report, September 16, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc815612/m1/1/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.