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When I see footage of congress in session I notice a lot of empty seats behind the tight shots on the speakers. This makes me think that the representatives are speaking to a nearly-empty room.

Apparently there is a roll-call record for the votes themselves, but is there some record of who is present during the debate portions of congressional sessions?

  • This is an interesting question! I do believe it's usually more empty than full (which can actually sometimes be an advantage), but would definitely be interesting to know the details of who's there and not. – user1530 Sep 11 '15 at 1:23
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    No, not to my knowledge. The congressional record contains no information about attendance, except specifically roll-call votes that list which members voted and how (yea/nay). In general, they are mostly speaking to an empty room. – user1873 Sep 11 '15 at 2:35
  • Then our constitutional mechanism of open debate seems to have proven itself ineffective. – soliton_zero Sep 12 '15 at 3:05
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    @soliton_zero Beg pardon? Committee hearings also tend to be open, and are much more likely to have people in them. And there is no constitutional mechanism of open debate; the floor debate can be attended by the public because Congress said so, but Congress could also constitutionally decide that the floor debate is closed to anyone except members (in fact, for over 100 years the Senate was not open to the public). – cpast Sep 22 '15 at 21:03
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There is no daily attendance record for the house or senate. Both houses have passed rules that they operate under the assumption a quorum is present unless there is a challenge to that assumption. Attendance would be recorded if there were a quorum call, however there is an alert sent that members need to report to the correct chamber in such cases.

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