Stand on Business

What Does “Stand on Business” Mean?

Legislative bodies such as the United States Congress and state legislatures use the phrase “stand on business” to indicate that they are ready to conduct their scheduled business. It is a procedural term that denotes the transition from the beginning routines to the meat of the agenda. 

But what exactly does “standing on business” mean, and why is it important in legislative assemblies? This article will look at the definition, origins, and purpose of legislators standing on business.


When a legislative chairperson says, “The House/Senate/Assembly stands on business,” it means that the body is now ready to begin the day’s planned business, such as debating bills, holding hearings, listening to speeches, and so on.

The phrase indicates that all preliminary matters, such as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, praying, calling the roll, and approving previous meeting minutes, have been completed. 

Now the legislative body can proceed with the scheduled orders of business on the agenda. Stand on business shifts the focus from opening routines to the actual legislative work that the members gathered to accomplish.


The term “standing on business” originated in the rules and procedures adopted by legislative bodies in both Congress and state legislatures. Most legislative bodies have some form of rule or order that allows the chairperson to declare the transition from opening remarks to actual business. 

For example, under Rule I of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker has the authority to announce when the House will take up business. This signals to members that it is time to move on from preliminary activities such as prayer, pledge, introductions, and procedural questions to scheduled debates, motions, votes, hearings, and other substantive work. The phrase serves to bridge the gap between housekeeping and legislative matters.


Standing on business serves a few key functions that facilitate legislative work.

Signalling a shift in agenda

For starters, it marks the formal transition from the session’s opening remarks to the actual legislative business. The phrase indicates when the basic introductory material concludes and the meat of the agenda begins. It’s a simple procedural phrase but a critical turning point.

Calling members to Order

Second, announcing that the body stands on business is the chair’s way of bringing unruly members to order. Members may still be mingling, chatting, or otherwise distracted while administrative tasks are completed. The statement grabs their attention by stating that productive work is about to begin.

Empowering the Presiding Officer

Finally, declaring the body is standing on business gives the presiding officer the authority to enforce the rules and ensure that work proceeds smoothly from that point forward.

By officially moving from preliminaries to business, the Speaker or President gains the authority to manage time, discussions, motions, votes, and anything else on the agenda in accordance with protocol. Members must follow the agenda.

Legislative sessions could easily devolve into unstructured, chaotic proceedings if this transitional phrase was not used to establish that the body is now prepared to address the issues at hand. Lawmakers may continue chatting off-topic, ignoring scheduled votes, or filibustering indefinitely. Standing on business gives leadership the necessary control.

When does business start?

So, when exactly during a legislative session is business officially stood on? The answer varies slightly between legislative bodies, but it usually occurs shortly after a few standard opening procedures are completed. Examples include:

  • The presiding officer calls the House or Senate to order.
  • Prayer or invocation was delivered.
  • Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
  • Attendance is taken via roll call.
  • Previous meeting minutes were submitted and approved.

Introductions of Special Visitors

Procedural questions are addressed

Once these routine matters are completed, the chairperson will declare something like, “The question occurs on standing on business” or “The Senate stands on the orders of the day.” That signals the start of real lawmaking work, such as introducing bills, voting on legislation, holding discussions, hearing witnesses on committee business, and so on.

It serves as an important transition from non-substantive opening fluff to substantive lawmaking tasks. The phrase provides structure and signals to everyone that it is time to begin doing the people’s business. Perhaps most importantly, standing on business gives the Speaker authority to manage the floor.

Why It Matters

Standing on business may appear to be a mundane procedural step, but it is a necessary maneuver to keep legislative activity on track and organized. Without it, sessions could devolve into lengthy talkfests in which nothing is accomplished. Standing on business ensures that measures are debated thoughtfully and either passed or failed. It keeps lawmakers on track and moving forward with substantive issues rather than going off on unproductive tangents.

Clearing the decks for business, particularly in Congress, prevents delay tactics such as filibusters from hijacking early session time. The phrase immediately defines purposeless obstruction, allowing the People’s work to be debated effectively. It also breaks down logjams in state legislatures, preventing nitpicking over procedural rules from impeding progress.

Ultimately, the effect is to ensure that American self-government remains functional. If lawmakers were unable to stand on business, the process of enacting laws for the benefit of citizens could come to a halt. So, while it may be an obscure bit of parliamentary procedure, standing on business is critical to a legislature’s entire purpose: to craft legislation.


When a legislative body “stands on business,” it means that the opening routine matters have been completed. Allowing substantive debate, votes, hearings, and other real work to proceed as scheduled on the agenda. The phrase derives from parliamentary rules enacted by Congress, state legislatures, and other legislative bodies. It helps lawmakers focus on productive business rather than unstructured talk.

While also giving the presiding officer the authority to lead an orderly, efficient session. Without a focus on business as a transition, legislative sessions could easily devolve into gridlock or pointless debates. So, while it may appear to be a minor procedural shorthand, standing on business is critical for responsible legislators. The simple act of standing on business allows government bodies to take positions on issues of real importance to the public. 

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