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According to this tweet from the Democrat Coalition, it seems to suggest that a bill can bypass committee action and be voted on in the Senate, should it obtain a number of cosponsors.

A Senate bill that would reverse the @FCC decision to repeal @BarackObama's #NetNeutrality rules now has 40 cosponsors, allowing it to bypass the @GOP-led committee and head straight to the Senate floor where it needs just 11 more votes to pass

Another tweet from Senator Claire McCaskill's office states that 30 cosponsors are needed to force a vote.

... In order to force a vote on the Senate Floor repealing @FCC’s recent decision to end #NetNeutrality rules, 30 cosponsors were needed ...


Since the minority party in the Senate usually controls at least 30 seats (currently 51–49), it would be relatively easy for the minority party to get 30 cosponsors and force a vote in the Senate. If this is the case, could the Democrats have forced a vote on Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination in the Senate, since no committee action was taken?

So, how does this process exactly work, specifically, which Senate rule enables this? How can a bill be put to a vote without committee action?

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This is Senate rule XIV (14). It is usually reserved to either facilitate a full senate consideration or to get around potential committee inaction. This places the vote on the Senate Calendar but that doesn't mean it will come up for vote as the Senate Majority Leader is ultimately responsible for scheduling the debates and votes and may simply not schedule them.

This is only used for bills before the Senate. Executive appointees (such as a SCOTUS appointee) are not bills but fall under "Advise and Consent". If a committee approves an appointee, it does not move to the Senate Calendar but rather the Executive Calendar and is scheduled differently than the bill. I am unsure if there is a bypass for this but it would not be Rule XIV.

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