Proxy Voting and Polling in Senate Committee Page: 2 of 6
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1) or proxy voting form. Other panels permit proxy votes to be authorized not only in
writing, but also orally or by "personal instruction."
Although Senate rules give committees wide latitude in structuring the use of proxies,
the Senate places specific limits on the practice as it relates to the motion to report a
measure or matter to the Senate. These limitations are established in the precedents of the
Senate and by Senate Rule XXVI.3 It is a fundamental principle of Senate parliamentary
procedure that a "reporting quorum" - a numerical majority of the members of a
committee - must be physically present when the committee votes to order a measure or
matter reported to the parent chamber. Under paragraph 7(a)(1) of Rule XXVI, should less
than a numerical majority be present for this vote, the measure or matter would not be
considered properly before the Senate, and a point of order might be raised against its
consideration.4 As such, under chamber precedents, proxies may not be used to constitute
such a reporting quorum.s
If a quorum is physically present and proxies are used on the motion to report, they
cannot make the difference in successfully ordering a measure or matter reported to the
Senate. If, with a reporting quorum present, a majority of committee members present
vote to order a measure reported, proxy votes to the contrary could prevent reporting. If,
however, a majority of the reporting quorum votes against ordering a measure or matter
reported, proxies could not count towards a majority vote to successfully report the
measure or matter.
Under Rule XXVI, if a committee permits proxy voting on the motion to report, a
Senator must be informed of the matter he or she is being recorded on by proxy. In
addition, a Senator must have actively requested to vote by proxy on that question; so-
called blind or general proxies are not permitted on this question.
Within the limits of Rule XXVI, each individual Senate committee has tailored
different types of proxy rules to meet the needs of its members. Some panels permit the
use of proxies on all questions with few restrictions. Still other panels limit their use, or
duration, or dictate the form or the manner in which the proxy must be executed or
preserved in the committee's official records.6 Because of this variation, questions about
a specific committee's use of proxies might best be answered by examining the
committee's official rules of procedure or consulting with the committee's chief clerk.7
3 The language of Senate Rule XXVI relating to proxy voting incorporates the provisions of
Section 106(a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-510. 84 Stat. 1140).
4 U.S. Congress, Senate, Riddick's Senate Procedure, S.Doc. 101-28, 101st Cong., 2"d sess.
(Washington: GPO, 1992), p. 1198.
5 Ibid., p. 1192.
6 For a summary of individual committee proxy rules, see CRS Report RL33972, Senate
Committee Rules in the 110th Congress: A Comparison of Key Provisions, by Betsy Palmer.
7 For a compilation of Senate committee rules, see U.S. Congress, Senate, Authority and Rules
of Senate Committees 2007-2008, S.Doc. 110-10, 110h Cong., 1St sess. (Washington: GPO, 2007).
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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/m1/2/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.