Which committee has the power to prevent legislation from moving forward in the legislative process by not considering it? Or, what kind of power do standing committees have to do so?

  • 1
    My understanding is that different committees have jurisdiction over different areas of legislation. I don't think that there's any 1 committee that can prevent all legislation in general. Each has their own area of legislation that they can prevent Apr 24, 2014 at 22:16
  • I just figure out that gatekeeping power guarantees committee to do so...@SamIam
    – kengkeng
    Apr 25, 2014 at 1:39

2 Answers 2


Every committee has jurisdiction over certain types of legislation, but no committee has absolute power to prevent legislation from moving to the floor. Congress has a procedure called a "discharge petition" which can remove legislation from a particular committee and move it directly to the floor for a vote, though such a vote is subject to the filibuster in the Senate.

According to LexisNexis:

Discharge petition

Method for forcing a committee to act on a bill. In the House, a Member offers a motion on the floor "to discharge the committee from further consideration of the bill". The Clerk of the House then draws up a discharge petition, and if a majority of the House (218 Members) signs it, the petition is placed on the discharge calendar. If the committee has not acted within seven days after the petition is placed on the calendar, any Member can call up the discharge motion which, if approved by the House, leads the way for a motion to bring up the bill itself. The difficulty of obtaining 218 signatures, which are made public, is one reason why this procedure is infrequently used in the House.

The motion "to discharge a committee from consideration" is subject to filibuster in the Senate. This potential for obstruction of all legislative business is one reason that the Senate almost never uses the discharge petition as a way to force a bill from committee to the floor.

  • I am saying preventing from moving forward. so I think the answer is gatekeeping , however, your are right, discharge petition does enable the bill to be presented on the floor.
    – kengkeng
    May 1, 2014 at 4:07

The House Committee on Rules (wiki) is the closest thing to a "committee [that] has power to prevent legislation from moving forward". Under normal circumstances, it has to give approval to all legislation in the House before it can be voted on. There are ways around it, such as the discharge petition @user2953 mentioned, but they're rare.

In the Senate, no committee has that kind of power, but any Senator can filibuster (almost) any bill. These days, they don't even need to stand up and talk continuously to do it either - they just say they want to, and the bill is stranded.

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