Filed Under: U.S.

What is unanimous consent?

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Very little gets done in Washington with everyone’s approval. But when it does, it happens through unanimous consent.

What is unanimous consent?

It’s a parliamentary procedure senators and representatives can use on their chamber’s floor to expedite business. If a member of Congress wants to get something done quickly and bypass all the procedures that routinely tie up bills or nominations, they can ask for the measure to be approved unanimously.

A UC agreement is often used for everyday items, like wanting to make a speech. But it can also be used to pass legislation. Senators passed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, providing around-the-clock police protection to justices’ families, via unanimous consent.

The process is quite technical and needs to be followed precisely.

“I ask unanimous consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further consideration of S4160 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration,” Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., said as she tried to get the Parity Act approved. “I ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motions to be reconsidered made and laid upon the table.”

If no one objects, the presiding officer will state “without objection” and bang the gavel. Just like that, it is approved — which is how the Parity Act passed.

However, if just one senator objects, the request is rejected. That’s what happened when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., objected to New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s request for unanimous consent to approve the 9/11 victims compensation fund extension.

“Any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable,” Sen. Paul said on the Senate floor when explaining why he was blocking the bill. “But until then I will object.”

“I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders,” Sen. Gillibrand responded.

Because of Sen. Paul’s objection, the bill had to go through many more hurdles and a full roll call vote, which takes time.

The UC goes all the way back to 1846 and was created by a senator who was frustrated with hours of endless debate. In a place of history and rigid rules, the UC is occasionally the butt of jokes.

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said of his early years trying to navigate Congress, “Finally I went to the parliamentarian. I said, ‘What are the rules here?’ He said there are only two rules in the Senate: one is exhaustion and the other is unanimous consent.”

Is there another esoteric D.C. term that needs explaining? Let us know in the comments. Here’s more from our D.C. dictionary, including “cloture” and “contempt of Congress.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell – R-KY says: “I ask unanimous consent 

Very little get’s done in Washington with everyone’s approval. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer – D-NY says: “I ask unanimous consent:

But when it does, it happens through unanimous consent. 

Rep. Jackie Speier – D-CA says: “I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks” 

“Without objection.”

So what is Unanimous consent? Let’s check our DC dictionary. 

If a member of congress wants to get something done quickly, and bypass all the procedures that routinely tie up other bills or nominations, they can ask for the measure to be approved unanimously. 

A UC agreement is often used for everyday procedural items. But it can also be used to pass legislation. Senators passed the Supreme Court Police Parity act, providing around the clock police protection to justices’ families, via unanimous consent.

Sen. Tina Smith – D-MN says: “I ask unanimous consent that the Judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of S4160 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration. 

“I ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motions to be reconsidered made and laid upon the table.” “without objection.”

If just one Senator objects, the request is rejected. That’s what happened when Senator Rand Paul objected to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s request for unanimous consent to approve the 9/11 victims compensation fund extension.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY says:  “Any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70-80 years should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. But until then I will object. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY says: “I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders.”

UC goes all the way back to 1846. And In a place of history, rigid rules and procedures, it’s also occasionally the butt of jokes.

Former Senate Leader Trent Lott – R-MS says: “Finally I went to the parliamentarian. I said what are the rules here?’ He said there are only 2 rules in the Senate, one is exhaustion and the other is unanimous consent.”

Very little gets done in Washington with everyone’s approval. But when it does, it happens through unanimous consent.

What is unanimous consent?

It’s a parliamentary procedure senators and representatives can use on their chamber’s floor to expedite business. If a member of Congress wants to get something done quickly and bypass all the procedures that routinely tie up bills or nominations, they can ask for the measure to be approved unanimously.

A UC agreement is often used for everyday items, like wanting to make a speech. But it can also be used to pass legislation. Senators passed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act, providing around-the-clock police protection to justices’ families, via unanimous consent.

The process is quite technical and needs to be followed precisely.

“I ask unanimous consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further consideration of S4160 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration,” Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., said as she tried to get the Parity Act approved. “I ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and the motions to be reconsidered made and laid upon the table.”

If no one objects, the presiding officer will state “without objection” and bang the gavel. Just like that, it is approved — which is how the Parity Act passed.

However, if just one senator objects, the request is rejected. That’s what happened when Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., objected to New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s request for unanimous consent to approve the 9/11 victims compensation fund extension.

“Any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable,” Sen. Paul said on the Senate floor when explaining why he was blocking the bill. “But until then I will object.”

“I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders,” Sen. Gillibrand responded.

Because of Sen. Paul’s objection, the bill had to go through many more hurdles and a full roll call vote, which takes time.

The UC goes all the way back to 1846 and was created by a senator who was frustrated with hours of endless debate. In a place of history and rigid rules, the UC is occasionally the butt of jokes.

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said of his early years trying to navigate Congress, “Finally I went to the parliamentarian. I said, ‘What are the rules here?’ He said there are only two rules in the Senate: one is exhaustion and the other is unanimous consent.”

Is there another esoteric D.C. term that needs explaining? Let us know in the comments. Here’s more from our D.C. dictionary, including “cloture” and “contempt of Congress.”

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