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What Does a Quorum Call Mean?

Samarpita Choudhury Oct 24, 2020
A quorum call is one of the many procedures of the parliamentary parlance that still holds good in order to efficiently run the routine procedure, uninterrupted.

The Call for Majority

In many legislature meetings, the minimum percentage of the quorum should be equal to or greater than 51%, failing which the legislature is dissolved for the day.
Before delving deeper into the understanding of a quorum call, what it does, or what it means, it is pertinent to know the literal meaning of quorum. The word refers to the minimum number of people required to conduct meetings over a particular business. It is a select group and comprises the majority.
The parliamentary procedure by virtue of which the absent members are summoned to attend a meeting or debate is known as a quorum call. These members belong to groups or bodies who are entitled to make significant decisions. These members could comprise ex-officials of any office of importance, and also include honorary members.
The requirement of quorum is to ensure that the group as a whole arrives at a consensus, rather than having a decision moved by a handful of people with vested interests. This was suggested by Robert's Rules of defining a quorum.

What does a quorum call do?

In order to ensure the legality and authenticity of the bill, law, transaction, or an act, there should be a minimum number of individuals present at the given time. This is known as a quorum, and the quorum call is to ensure the presence of the quorum.
In order to determine the presence and absence of the quorum in the legislature, a quorum call is carried out by conducting an attendance. A quorum call also allows a minimum time to the absent legislative member so that s/he can put forth his/her point of view for discussion and debate.
The quorum call is used to call for members in the House as well as the Senate. Though quorum call is a habitual procedure in the Senate, it is also observed in the House of Representatives, though less frequently.

The average time limit for the quorum call duration is about 15 minutes.
In the Senate, the Senator can ask a quorum call at any given time in the absence of the quorum.

At this time, the clerk is asked to call out the names of the members, who are to respond upon hearing their own names.

However, it is observed that sometimes the quorum call is also called in order to delay the process of decision-making on important issues.

Quorum Busting

It is one of the tactics used to keep away the majority members of a quorum from attending the legislature meeting in order to delay the process.

It is an age-old process and has been around for years, until strict measures of limiting this were adopted.
Another feature of a quorum is the Disappearing quorum, which is a policy followed by those who are actually present in the house, but refuse to cast a vote. The process is obsolete and no longer holds good.
Quorum busting has stopped, and one of the main instances when it was harshly opposed was in an incident that occurred in the year 1988. Republican Senator, Robert Packwood was virtually dragged into the chamber at 1:17 am to discuss a Finance Reform Bill Campaign.