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What is a Super Majority and What is it Used for?

Updated on February 6, 2017
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We all know what a simple majority is. But lately, we hear about a super majority used for several different reasons. There are super majorities that apply to congress and to the states as well.

Congress Super Majorities

I did some research and here is what I found. The Senate has 100 members (two for each state). The house has 435 members total.

  • Senate - simple majority - at least 51% or at least 51 votes.
  • Senate - super majority - at least 2/3 of the senate or at least 67 votes
  • House - simple majority - at least 51% or at least 218 votes
  • House - super majority - at least 2/3 of the house or at least 290 votes

Measures or Actions in Congress that Require a Super Majority Vote

Measure or Action
House at Least
Senate at Least
Remove the President from Office
218
67
Expelling a Member of Congress
218
67
Override a Presidential Veto
218
67
Temporarily Suspend Rules of Debate
218
67
Ending a Fillabuster With Cloture (see note below*)
Does not apply
60
Amending the Constitution
2/3 of those present
2/3 of those present
Ratify a Treaty
218
67
Senate passing a motion to postpone a treaty indefintetly
Does not apply
67
*A cloture is required to end a fillabuster with at least 60 votes in the senate, but it does not apply to the house.
 
 

Requirements for Super Majority by the States

  • Calling a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution - 2/3 of the states legislature, 33 states
  • Ratifying an amendment to the Constitution - 3/4 of the states legislature, 38 states

Taxation and Federal Budgets

There are rules that apply to super majorities for taxation and federal budgets. But, in accordance with Article 1, section 5 of the Constitution, each chamber can make up their own rules.

My Related Hubs

This is a second in a series of hubs about congressional superlatives. The first one is about Super PACS's and how they work. The next one will be about Super Comittees, What are they and how are they used?

Conclusion

I know there are a lot of numbers in this hub, but it is intended as a reference, not to memorize. For those of you who are just curious as I was, it is just a point of reference. But I did find it interesting that for taxation and federal budgets, the rules are made up as both chambers see fit.

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    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Interesting topic. There are so many things that seem to be done by our Congress "as both chambers see fit." It is good to have your articles as a refresher course in some of the more technical nuances of our government--especially in an election year. Keep up the great work!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      yoginijoy: Thanks for dropping by and your comments. Yes, I didn't like that they have laws for everything except where it really matters.

    • S Leretseh profile image

      S Leretseh 4 years ago

      So if my reading comprehension is correct here, and I assume you have researched & posted the correct information, then Super Majority does not refer to any ONE political party, just the necessary votes to accomplish passing a law/measure before either House or Senate?

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 4 years ago from Placentia California

      S Leretseh: That's correct. They are used for measures that have significant consequences compared to simple measures and issues. Thanks for dropping by.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 3 years ago from Placentia California

      I have limited my Amazon book selection to two per Hub Pages Style Guide.

    • profile image

      Sanctuary 3 years ago

      I think you our in correct. Super majorities are used by loser parties who can not elect enough people to pass anything. So they use the Super majority to make up missing votes to prevent anything from passing. For example debt ceilings, a budget and most important of all when they intend to work this year. Your next subject should be Supreme Court Justices, how non elected officials prevent any Democracy from ever occurring in a Republic. Thank you MR. Bean.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 3 years ago from Placentia California

      MR. Bean: Thanks for your comments. I was just presenting the facts from a non-partisan view point. However, you are right about how super majorities can be used. I agree with your last sentence. That is how Super PACs work. I already have a hub on that topic. One of the most powerful, non-elected officials is Grover Norquist. He holds no official office, but he is able to hold the republican party hostage and will black ball anybody running for office that even talks about raising taxes. It's like a big mafia protection racket.

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