Watching the recorded House sessions, many bills are discussed and passed with voice votes only. Often, I can see vast areas of empty seats around the speakers, but the recordings of the sessions rarely show the whole chamber. Sometimes when the Speaker calls for Ayes and No's it sounds like there's maybe 5 people in the whole chamber!

How many members of the house are actually on the floor during these votes?

  • During votes for important stuff, or for post office renamings?
    – cpast
    Jan 31, 2016 at 6:56
  • Not particularly important stuff. But I had always thought that at least half the members would have to be present for any vote, regardless of importance.
    – Ben
    Jan 31, 2016 at 22:51
  • Legally, yes; however, Congress operates under the assumption that there's a quorum, and unless it's established that there's not a quorum there's no issue (the federal courts do not review the legalities of how a bill was passed, leaving it up to Congress and the President to look into congressional procedure). At the very least before a vote, a member can note the absence of a quorum, at which point they call the roll to see if there's enough people there.
    – cpast
    Jan 31, 2016 at 23:31

1 Answer 1


Most of the time the house (and senate) chambers are pretty empty during sessions. Most Congressmen are busy attending committee meetings, fundraising, and meeting with lobbyists/constituents. During important votes the chambers will be full, but there aren't many major bills in any given session. The actual number of people present at any given time isn't recorded so its impossible to give an exact number for the number of people present at any given time attendance is only tracked when the quorum is called into question and a quorum call is issued.

  • While true, we should be fair that sometimes they are meeting with continuents
    – user1530
    Feb 1, 2016 at 16:33

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