Has a bill ever failed to pass in a house of Congress with zero votes in favor?

  • 19
    Who would have bothered bringing it to the floor for a vote? Jul 7 at 16:29
  • 9
    @jeffronicus It makes no sense but apparently it did happen, see my answer. Jul 7 at 16:44
  • 1
    One hypothetical scenario is that the bill gets amended by the opposition such that neither side wants it to pass - the opposition because they didn't want it in the first place, and the sponsor's party because they didn't want to take the poison pill.
    – Bobson
    Jul 7 at 23:58
  • 1
    @Bobson: Another issue is that if a bill or motion fails, only someone who had voted against it can propose its reconsideration. It's common to have at least one supporter of a bill vote against it if it's going to fail for that reason. Having all supporters vote against it for that reason would be bizarre, but if nobody wants to have to be the one person who voted against it, it could perhaps happen.
    – supercat
    Jul 8 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


There's been 2 such bills as per the data on the GovTrack website.

  1. H.R. 3989 (105th): User Fee Act of 1998 failed to pass with 0 votes in favor and 421 votes opposed. Even the bill's sponsor (Gerald Solomon) voted against it.
  2. H.R. 3085 (106th): Discretionary Spending Offsets Act for Fiscal Year 2000. Failed with 0 votes in favor and 419 votes against. The bill's sponsor (Terry Lee) likewise voted against it.

There's also been 35 other votes with 0 votes in favor, but those were motions rather than bill votes.

  • 9
    Why would someone sponsor a bill, then oppose it?
    – Someone
    Jul 7 at 16:49
  • 6
    @Someone-OnStrike if you click into the bills under the links, it does say it is possible a different bill with similar provisions could have passed, making these bills unnecessary.
    – Seth R
    Jul 8 at 5:18
  • 2
    @Someone-OnStrike there's a tongue-in-cheek saying that "a good compromise leaves everyone angry". Maybe that literally happened here, the authors ended up tryign to appease two such disparate groups that they ended up with something that appeared to be a compromise but was actually unpalatable to both sides (for different reasons). And they themselves thought (incorrectly) that it was a bad compromise, but the only thing that might pass.
    – Brondahl
    Jul 8 at 7:30
  • 3
    @Someone-OnStrike: In politics, it's usually a wise idea not to stand out for failures. Political calculus might suggest that it's better to vote against your own bill than be the one person who votes for something no one likes. Jul 9 at 4:34
  • 4
    The "User Fee Act" was described in Congress as a "sham bill" that was "just another way to try to embarrass the President." In other words, it was a strawman, only introduced to be shot down. You can read the (sometimes angry) debate congress.gov/105/crec/1998/06/05/…
    – James K
    Jul 9 at 7:49

Yes, in the Senate.

I am not sure about the US House of Representatives.

However, for the Senate there is a recent one.

The Green New Deal. It received 0 yes votes and 57 no votes.

Introduce on Valentine's Day 2019 (02/14/2019) and voted down the following month on 03/26/2019.

The sponsors of the bill and associated party voted "present" instead of a yea or nay, resulting in the 0-57 final tally.

  • 1
    why did this happen, any idea?
    – whoisit
    Jul 7 at 16:49
  • 5
    @whoisit The bill was sent to the floor by the opposition party knowing it would fail with the intent to put senators "on record". Rather than presenting disunity within the party and playing into what Democrats characterized as a "sham" vote, none voted "yea" and simply voted "present" instead. Jul 7 at 16:57
  • 6
    @whoisit At the time the Republican party held 57 seats. The Democrats held 43 seats. The bill would require 60 yes votes to pass. Since the Republicans held the majority, they called the bill for a vote to kill it. The sponsors of the bill belonged to the Democrat party, however, it was not unanimously popular among the Democrat party at the time. The bill needed 17 Republicans to switch from No to Yes to pass. Given this was unlikely, the democrats choose instead to unanimously "protest" the vote. This was viewed as a better alternative than to put their disagreements on public record.
    – David S
    Jul 7 at 16:58
  • 5
    Technically it wasn't a bill vote but rather a Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S.J. Res. 8. Jul 7 at 17:46
  • 4
    @DavidS Good example, but your partisan breakdowns are off. At the time the GOP held 53 seats. The no votes were the 53 Republicans plus Jones (D-AL), King (I-ME), Sinema (D-AZ), and Manchin (D-WV).
    – A. Howells
    Jul 8 at 13:09

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