Democratic Senators have been blocking Committee work by refusing to show up en masse, thus preventing regular order.

So I was wondering where is Mitch McConnell on this move, and why he hasn't compelled the attendance of the missing Senators under Senate Rule 6, (note that Senate Committees generally follow the Senate chamber rules, although there are exceptions). Has McConnell's office issued any statement or public utterances on his failure to act or on this subject at all? There's nothing on his website, and I haven't been able to find anything. Or any of the committee chairs mentioned in the article would do.

Under Senate Rule 6.

  1. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.

  2. No Senator shall absent himself from the service of the Senate without leave.

  3. If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate.

  4. Whenever upon such roll call it shall be ascertained that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate; and pending its execution, and until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, or to recess pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent, shall be in order.

  • 1
    In most jobs, if you refuse to show up for work, you don't get paid and are subject to discipline. Are there any provisions for replacing committee members who refuse to do their job, or other remedies, like redefining a quorum, or passing the matter directly to the floor without a committee decision?
    – user11810
    Jan 31, 2017 at 21:30
  • 2
    It has been done in the past. Senator ‘arrested’ to compel a quorum: Nov. 14, 1942 but one of the Senators who was "arrested" got even by causing the Serganst at Arms to lose his job. Jan 31, 2017 at 21:38
  • 3
    @fixer1234 I don't blame Schumer, he's sticking up for his base. But McConnell has once again brought a nerf gun to a knife fight. There is a remedy rather than changing the rules, and that remedy is to compel attendance
    – user9790
    Jan 31, 2017 at 21:41
  • 1
    Hatch suspended the rules at the Finance committee and Mnuchin passed
    – user9790
    Feb 1, 2017 at 16:47

3 Answers 3


I haven't seen any comment from Senator McConnell, but Senator Cotton has suggested this:

"I don't know how long they plan to do this," the Republican said from the Senate floor. "I don't know if they intend to abscond out of the District, if we're going to have to vote to have the sergeant at arms track them down, haul them to work to do their business."

I highly doubt this will happen though, just because of the poor optics.

  • @KDog I'm 99% sure McConnell has not suggested using the sergeant at arms, because it would have been reported on (like Cotton was), but I didn't watch CSPAN all day today so I cant say. Jan 31, 2017 at 23:00
  • I think the practicality of tracking them down and bringing them back is also a significant obstacle. Feb 1, 2017 at 21:38
  • @PoloHoleSet The Democrats were in the hallway outside the chamber holding a press conference for the Finance Committee situation.
    – user9790
    Feb 3, 2017 at 15:05
  • @KDog - I'm talking about if they really wanted to be scarce, the ability to relocate oneself and to not be noticed is a bit more than it was in the time of the Founders. Feb 3, 2017 at 15:14
  • We all have heard of malfeasance of office (literally evil capacity) which is abusing the powers of the office, but an elected official who fails to show up for his job can be charged with nonfeasance of office (literally without capacity) which is failure to do the job at all. I'm not sure who could press the charges in this case however, since it usually is the electorate themselves seeking a cause for recall/removal of a bad official they elected.
    – O.M.Y.
    Feb 22, 2017 at 15:03

It appears he was planning to use rule changes to make it unnecessary.

By changing what was required for a committee to proceed the committees can make decisions without the absent senators.


Has McConnell's office issued any statement or public utterances on his failure to act or on this subject at all?

I haven't seen any of that.

But that's not needed, as the nuclear option is available. and it is fairly common sense that if those senators are elected to do a job, they should do their job.

You must log in to answer this question.