Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Randyl Kent Plampin
ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER
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Rules Of Order
Rules of Order.
A Compendium of Parliamentary Law, based upon the rules
and practice of Congress.
Organization and Conduct Of Business.
A simple explanation of the methods of organizing and
conducting the business of societies, conventions,
and other deliberative assemblies.
By Major Henry M. Robert,
Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.
S. C. Griggs & Company.
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Copyright, A.D. 1876, by H. M. Robert
Printed by Burdick & Armitage, Milwaukee
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There appears to be much needed a work on parliamentary law, based, in
its general principles, upon the rules and practice of Congress, and
adapted, in its details, to the use of ordinary societies. Such a work
should give, not only the methods of organizing and conducting the
meetings, the duties of the officers and the names of the ordinary
motions, but in addition, should state in a systematic manner, in
reference to each motion, its object and effect; whether it can be
amended or debated; if debatable, the extent to which it opens the main
question to debate; the circumstances under which it can be made, and
what other motions can be made while it is pending. This Manual has
been prepared with a view to supplying the above information in a
condensed and systematic manner, each rule being either complete in
itself, or giving references to every section that in any way qualifies
it, so that a stranger to the work can refer to any special subject with
To aid in quickly referring to as many as possible of the rules relating
to each motion, there is placed immediately before the Index, a Table of
Rules, which enables one, without turning a page, to find the answers to
some two hundred questions. The Table of Rules is so arranged as to
greatly assist the reader in systematizing his knowledge of
The second part is a simple explanation of the common methods of
conducting business in ordinary
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meetings, in which the motions are classified according to their uses,
and those used for a similar purpose compared together. This part is
expressly intended for that large class of the community, who are
unfamiliar with parliamentary usages and are unwilling to devote much
study to the subject, but would be glad with little labor to learn
enough to enable them to take part in meetings of deliberative
assemblies without fear of being out of order. The object of Rules of
Order in deliberative assemblies, is to assist an assembly to accomplish
the work for which it was designed, in the best possible manner. To do
this, it is necessary to somewhat restrain the individual, as the right
of an individual in any community to do what he pleases, is incompatible
with the best interests of the whole. Where there is no law, but every
man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real
liberty. Experience has shown the importance of definiteness in the
law, and in this country, where customs are so slightly established and
the published manuals of parliamentary practice so conflicting, no
society should attempt to conduct business without having adopted some
work upon the subject, as the authority in all cases not covered by
their own rules.
It has been well said by one of the greatest of English writers on
parliamentary law: "Whether these forms be in all cases the most
rational or not is really not of so great importance. It is much more
material that there should be a rule to go by, than what that rule is,
that there may be a uniformity of proceeding in business, not subject to
the caprice of the chairman, or captiousness of the members. It is very
material that order, decency and regularity be preserved in a dignified
H. M. R.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Parliamentary Law .................................................. 9
Plan of the Work .................................................. 12
'' Part I .................................................... 13
'' Part II ................................................... 14
Definitions ....................................................... 15
Part I.--Rules of Order.
Art. I.--Introduction of Business.
Sec. 1. How introduced .............................................. 17
2. Obtaining the floor ............................................ 17
3. What precedes debate on a question ............................. 19
4. What motions to be in writing, and
how they shall be divided ...................................... 20
5. Modification of a motion by the mover .......................... 21
Art. II.--General Classification of Motions.
Sec. 6. Principal or Main motions ................................... 22
7. Subsidiary or Secondary motions ................................ 22
8. Incidental motions ............................................. 23
9. Privileged motions ............................................. 24
Art. III.--Motions and their Order of Precedence.
10. To fix the time to which to adjourn ........................... 25
11. Adjourn ....................................................... 26
12. Questions of privilege ........................................ 28
13. Orders of the day ............................................. 28
14. Appeal [Questions of Order] ................................... 30
15. Objection to the consideration of a
question ...................................................... 32
16. Reading papers ................................................ 33
17. Withdrawal of a motion ........................................ 34
18. Suspension of the Rules ....................................... 34
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Sec. 19. Lie on the table ........................................... 35
20. Previous Question ............................................. 37
21. Postpone to a certain day ..................................... 40
22. Commit [or Re-commit] ......................................... 41
23. Amend ......................................................... 43
24. Postpone indefinitely ......................................... 46
25. Filling blanks, and Nominations ............................... 47
26. Renewal of a motion ........................................... 48
27. Reconsideration ............................................... 49
Art. IV.--Committees and Informal Action.
Sec. 28. Committees ................................................. 54
29. '' Form of their Reports .............................. 58
30. '' Reception '' .............................. 59
31. '' Adoption '' .............................. 61
32. Committee of the Whole ........................................ 61
33. Informal consideration of a question .......................... 65
Art. V.--Debate and Decorum.
Sec. 34. Debate ..................................................... 66
35. Undebatable questions and those opening
the main question to debate ................................... 68
36. Decorum in debate ............................................. 71
37. Closing debate, methods of .................................... 72
Sec. 38. Voting, various modes of ................................... 74
39. Motions requiring more than a
majority vote ................................................. 80
Art. VII.--Officers and the Minutes.
Sec. 40. Chairman or President ...................................... 81
41. Clerk, or Secretary, and the Minutes .......................... 85
Sec. 42. Session .................................................... 90
43. Quorum ........................................................ 93
44. Order of business ............................................. 94
45. Amendment of the Rules of Order ............................... 97
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Part II.-Organization and Conduct of Business.
Art. IX.--Organization and Meetings.
Sec. 46. An Occasional or Mass Meeting.
(a) Organization .............................................. 99
(b) Adoption of resolutions .................................. 101
(c) Committee on '' .................................. 102
(d) Additional Officers ...................................... 105
47. A Convention or Assembly of
Delegates .................................................... 106
48. A Permanent Society.
(a) First meeting ............................................. 108
(b) Second meeting ............................................ 111
49. Constitutions, By-Laws, Rules of
Order and Standing Rules ..................................... 115
Art. X.--Officers and Committees.
Sec. 50. President or Chairman ..................................... 119
51. Secretary, or Clerk, and the Minutes ......................... 120
52. Treasurer .................................................... 123
53. Committees ................................................... 127
Art. XI--Introduction of Business.
Sec. 54. Introduction of Business .................................. 129
Sec. 55. Motions classified according to their
object ....................................................... 131
56. To Amend or modify.
(a) Amend .................................................... 133
(b) Commit ................................................... 134
57. To Defer action.
(a) Postpone to a certain time ............................... 134
(b) Lie on the table ......................................... 135
58. To Suppress Debate.
(a) Previous Question ........................................ 136
(b) An Order limiting or closing
debate ................................................... 137
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Sec. 59. To Suppress the question.
(a) Objection to its consideration ........................... 138
(b) Postpone indefinitely .................................... 139
(c) Lie on the table ......................................... 139
60. To Consider a question the second time
(a) Reconsider ............................................... 140
61. Order and Rules.
(a) Orders of the day ........................................ 142
(b) Special orders ........................................... 143
(c) Suspension of the rules .................................. 144
(d) Questions of order ....................................... 144
(e) Appeal ................................................... 145
(a) Reading of papers ........................................ 146
(b) Withdrawal of a motion ................................... 146
(c) Questions of privilege ................................... 146
63. To close a meeting.
(a) Fix the time to which to adjourn ......................... 147
(b) Adjourn .................................................. 147
64. Order of Precedence of motions ............................... 149
Sec. 65. Rules of speaking in debate ............................... 150
66. Undebatable questions and those that
open the main question to debate ............................. 151
Sec. 67. Forms of stating and putting questions .................... 154
68. Motions requiring a two-thirds vote
for their adoption ........................................... 154
69. Unfinished business .......................................... 154
70. Session ...................................................... 155
71. Quorum ....................................................... 156
72. Order of Business ............................................ 156
73. Amendment of Constitutions, By-Laws
and Rules of Order ........................................... 157
Legal Rights of Deliberative Assemblies ............................ 158
Table of Rules Relating to Motions ................................. 166
Index .............................................................. 169
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Parliamentary Law refers originally to the customs and rules of
conducting business in the English Parliament; and thence to the customs
and rules of our own legislative assemblies. In England these customs
and usages of Parliament form a part of the unwritten law of the land,
and in our own legislative bodies they are of authority in all cases
where they do not conflict with existing rules or precedents.
But as a people we have not the respect which the English have for
customs and precedents, and are always ready for innovations which we
think are improvements, and hence changes have been and are being
constantly made in the written rules which our legislative bodies have
found best to adopt. As each house adopts its own rules, it results
that the two houses of the same legislature do not always agree in their
practice; even in Congress the order of precedence of motions is not
the same in both houses, and the Previous Question is admitted in the
House of Representatives, but not in the Senate. As a consequence of
this, the exact method of conducting business in any particular
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legislative body is to be obtained only from the Legislative Manual of
The vast number of societies, political, literary, scientific,
benevolent and religious, formed all over the land, though not
legislative, are still deliberative in their character, and must have
some system of conducting business, and some rules to govern their
proceedings, and are necessarily subject to the common parliamentary law
where it does not conflict with their own special rules. But as their
knowledge of parliamentary law has been obtained from the usages in this
country, rather than from the customs of Parliament, it has resulted
that these societies have followed the customs of our own legislative
bodies, and our people have thus been educated under a system of
parliamentary law which is peculiar to this country, and yet so well
established as to supersede the English parliamentary law as the common
law of ordinary deliberative assemblies.
The practice of the National House of Representatives should have the
same force in this country as the usages of the House of Commons have in
England, in determining the general principles of the common
parliamentary law of the land; but it does not follow that in every
matter of detail the rules of Congress can be appealed to as the common
law governing every deliberative assembly. In these matters of detail,
the rules of each House of Congress are adapted to their own peculiar
wants, and are of no force whatever in other assemblies.
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But upon all great parliamentary questions, such as what motions can be
made, what is their order of precedence, which can be debated, what is
their effect, etc., the common law of the land is settled by the
practice of the U. S. House of Representatives, and not by that of the
English Parliament, the U. S. Senate, or any other body.
While in extreme cases there is no difficulty in deciding the question
as to whether the practice of Congress determines the common
parliamentary law, yet between these extremes there must necessarily be
a large number of doubtful cases upon which there would be great
difference of opinion, and to avoid the serious difficulties always
arising from a lack of definiteness in the law, every deliberative
assembly should imitate our legislative bodies in adopting Rules of
Order for the conduct of their business.* [Where the practice of
Congress differs from that of Parliament upon a material point, the
common law of this country follows the practice of Congress. Thus in
every American deliberative assembly having no rules for conducting
business, the motion to adjourn would be decided to be undebatable, as
in Congress, the English parliamentary law to the contrary
notwithstanding; so if the Previous Question were negatived the debate
upon the subject would continue as in Congress, whereas in Parliament
the subject would be immediately dismissed; so too the Previous Question
could be moved when there was before the assembly a motion either to
amend, to commit, or to postpone definitely or indefinitely, just as in
Congress, notwithstanding that, according to English parliamentary law,
the Previous question could not be moved under such circumstances.
When the rules of the two Houses of Congress conflict, the H. R. rules
are of greater authority than those of the Senate in determining the
parliamentary law of the country, just as the practice of the House of
Commons, and not the House of Lords, determines the parliamentary law of
England. For instance, though the Senate rules do not allow the motion
for the Previous Question, and make the motion to postpone indefinitely
take precedence of every other subsidiary motion [Sec. 7] except to lie on
the table, yet the parliamentary law of the land follows the practice of
the House of Representatives, in recognizing the Previous Question as a
legitimate motion, and assigning to the very lowest rank the motion to
postpone indefinitely. But in matters of detail, the rules of the House
of Representatives are adapted to the peculiar wants of that body, and
are of no authority in any other assembly. No one for instance would
accept the following H. R. rules as common parliamentary law in this
country: That the chairman, in case of disorderly conduct, would have
that power to order the galleries to be cleared; that the ballot could
not be used in electing the officers of an assembly; that any fifteen
members would be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members
and make them pay the expenses of the messengers sent after them; that
all committees not appointed by the Chair would have to be appointed by
ballot, and if the required number were not elected by a majority vote,
then a second ballot must be taken in which a plurality of votes would
prevail; that each member would be limited in debate upon any question,
to one hour; that a day's notice must be given of the introduction of a
bill, and that before its passage it must be read three times, and that
without the special order of the assembly it cannot be read twice the
same day. These examples are sufficient to show the absurdity of the
idea that the rules of Congress in all things determine the common
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Plan of the Work.
This Manual is prepared to partially meet this want in deliberative
assemblies that are not legislative in their character. It has been
made sufficiently complete to answer for the rules of an assembly, until
they see fit to adopt special rules conflicting with and superseding any
of its rules of detail, such as the Order of Business [Sec. 44], etc. Even
in matters of detail the practice of Congress is followed, wherever it
is not manifestly unsuited to ordinary assemblies, and in such cases, in
Part I, there will be found, in a footnote, the Congressional practice.
In the important matters referred to above, in which the practice of the
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Representatives settles the common parliamentary law of the country,
this Manual strictly conforms to such practice.* [On account of the
party lines being so strictly drawn in Congress, no such thing as
harmony of action is possible, and it has been found best to give a bare
majority, in the House of Representatives (but not in the Senate) the
power to take final action upon a question without allowing of any
discussion. In ordinary societies more regard should be paid to the
rights of the minority, and a two-thirds vote be required, as in this
Manual [Sec. 39], for sustaining an objection to the introduction of a
question, or for adopting a motion for the Previous Question, or for
adopting an order closing or limiting debate. In this respect the
policy of the Pocket Manual is a mean between those of the House and
Senate. But some societies will doubtless find it advantageous to
follow the practice of the H. R., and others will prefer that of the
Senate. It requires a majority, according to the Pocket Manual, to
order the yeas and nays, which is doubtless best to the majority of
assemblies; but in all bodies in which the members are responsible to
their constituents, a much smaller number should have this power. In
Congress it requires but a one-fifth vote, end in some bodies a single
member can require a vote to be taken by yeas and nays. Any society
adopting this Manual, should make its rules govern them in all cases to
which they are applicable, and in which they are not inconsistent with
the By-Laws and Rules of Order of the society. Their own rules should
include all or the cases where it is desirable to vary from the rules in
the Manual, and especially should provide for a Quorum [Sec. 43], and an
Order of Business [Sec. 44], as suggested in these rules.]
The Manual is divided into two distinct, parts, each complete in itself.
[The table at the end contains a large amount of information in a
tabular form for easy reference in the midst of the business of a
Part I contains a set of Rules of Order systematically arranged, as
shown in the Table of Contents. Each one of the forty-five sections is
complete in itself, so that no one unfamiliar with the work can be
misled in examining any particular subject. Cross references are freely
used to save repeating
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from other sections, and by this means, the reader, without using the
index, is referred to everything in the Rules of Order that has any
bearing upon the subject he is investigating. The references are by
sections, and for convenience the numbers of the sections are placed at
the top of each page. The motions are arranged under the usual classes,
in their order of rank, but in the index under the word motion will be
found an alphabetical list of all the motions generally used. In
reference to each motion there is stated:
(1) Of what motions it takes precedence (that is, what motions may,
be pending, and yet it be in order to make this motion).
(2) To what motions it yields (that is, what motions may be made
while this motion is pending).
(3) Whether it is debatable or not.
(4) Whether it can be amended or not.
(5) In case the motion can have no subsidiary motion applied to it,
the fact is stated [see Adjourn, Sec. 11, for an example: the
meaning is, that the particular motion to adjourn, for example,
cannot be laid on the table, postponed, committed or amended].
(6) The effect of the motion if adopted.
(7) The form of stating the question when peculiar, and whatever other
information is necessary to enable one to understand the question.
Part II. While the second part covers the entire ground of the first
part, it does so in a much simpler manner, being intended for those who
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no acquaintance with the usages of deliberative assemblies. It also
explains the method of organizing an assembly or society, and conducting
a meeting. The motions are treated on an entirely different plan, being
classified according to the objects for which they are used, and those
of each class compared together so that the reader may obtain the best
motion for the accomplishment of any given object. It omits the
complications of parliamentary law, and has but few references to the
rules of Congress, or those in this Manual. In order to make it
complete in itself, it was necessary to repeat a few pages from the
In addition to the terms defined above (taking precedence of, yielding
to and applying to, see p. 14), there are other terms that are liable to
be misunderstood, to which attention should he called.
Meeting and Session.--In this Manual the term "meeting" is used to
denote an assembling together of the members of a deliberative assembly
for any length of time, during which there is no separation of the
members by adjournment. An adjournment to meet again at some other
time, even the same day, terminates the meeting, but not the session,
which latter includes all the adjourned meetings. The next meeting, in
this case, would be an "adjourned meeting" of the same session.
A "meeting" of an assembly is terminated by a
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temporary adjournment; a "session" of an assembly ends with an
adjournment without day, and may consist of many meetings [see Session,
Previous Question--This term is frequently understood to refer to the
question previously under consideration. As used in this country it is
equivalent to a motion to "Stop debate, and proceed to voting on all the
questions before the assembly," with certain exceptions, where it
affects only one motion (as to postpone, to reconsider and an appeal;
See Sec. 20 for a full explanation).
Shall the Question be Considered (or discussed)? This question, which
is put as soon as a subject is brought before an assembly, if any member
"objects to its consideration" (or "discussion," or "introduction"), is
not intended to merely cut off debate, but to prevent the question from
coming before the assembly for its action. If decided by a two-thirds
vote in the negative, the question is removed from before the assembly
immediately [see Sec. 15].
Whenever the word "assembly," which is used throughout these rules,
occurs in forms of motions (as in Appeals, Sec. 14), it is better to
replace it by the special term used to designate the particular
assembly; as for instance, "Society," or "Convention," or "Board." The
term "Congress," when used in this Manual, refers to the House of
Representatives of the U.S.
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Rules of Order.
Art. I. Introduction of Business.
1. All business should be brought before the assembly by a motion of a
member, or by the presentation of a communication to the assembly. It
is not usual, however, to make a motion to receive the reports of
committees [Sec. 30] or communications to the assembly; and in many other
cases in the ordinary routine of business, the formality of a motion is
dispensed with; but should any member object, a regular motion becomes
2. Before a member can make a motion or address the assembly upon any
question, it is necessary that he obtain the floor; that is, he must
rise and address the presiding officer
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by his title, thus: "Mr. Chairman" [Sec. 34], who will then announce the
member's name. Where two or more rise at the same time the Chairman
must decide who is entitled to the floor, which he does by announcing
that member's name. From this decision, however, an appeal [Sec. 14] can
he taken; though if there is any doubt as to who is entitled to the
floor, the Chairman can at the first allow the assembly to decide the
question by a vote--the one getting the largest vote being entitled to
The member upon whose motion the subject under discussion was brought
before the assembly (or, in case of a committee's report, the one who
presented the report) is entitled to be recognized as having the floor
(if he has not already had it during that discussion), notwithstanding
another member may have first risen and addressed the Chair. If the
Chairman rise to speak before the floor has been assigned to any one, it
is the duty of a member who may have previously risen to take his seat.
[See Decorum in Debate, Sec. 36.]
When a member has obtained the floor, he cannot be cut off from
addressing the assembly, nor be interrupted in this speech by a
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motion to adjourn, or for any purpose, by either the Chairman or any
member, except (a) to have entered on the minutes a motion to reconsider
[Sec. 27]; (b) by a call to order [Sec. 14]; (c) by an objection to the
consideration of the question [Sec. 15]; or (d) by a call for the orders of
the day [Sec. 13].* [See note to Sec. 61.] In such cases the member when he
arises and addresses the Chair should state at once for what purpose he
rises, as, for instance, that he "rises to a point of order." A call
for an adjournment, or for the question, by members in their seats, is
not a motion; as no motion can be made, without rising and addressing,
the Chair, and being announced by the presiding officer. Such calls for
the question are themselves breaches of order, and do not prevent the
speaker from going on if he pleases.
3. Before any subject is open to debate [Sec. 34] it is necessary, first,
that a motion he made; second, that it be seconded, (see exceptions
below); and third, that it be stated by the presiding officer. When the
motion is in writing it shall be handed to the Chairman, and read before
it is debated.
This does not prevent suggestions of alterations, before the question is
stated by the
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presiding officer. To the contrary, much time may be saved by such
informal remarks; which, however, must never be allowed to run into
debate. The member who offers the motion, until it has been stated by
the presiding officer, can modify his motion, or even withdraw it
entirely; after it is stated he can do neither, without the consent of
the assembly. [See Sec.Sec. 5 and 17]. When the mover modifies his motion,
the one who seconded it can withdraw his second.
Exceptions: A call for the order of the day, a question of order
(though not an appeal), or an objection to the consideration of a
question [Sec.Sec. 13, 14, 15], does not have to be seconded; and many
questions of routine are not seconded or even made; the presiding
officer merely announcing that, if no objection is made, such will be
considered the action of the assembly.
4. All Principal Motions [Sec. 6], Amendments and Instructions to
Committees, should be in writing, if required by the presiding officer.
Although a question is complicated, and capable of being made into
several questions, no one member (without there is a special rule
allowing it) can insist upon its being divided; his resource is to move
that the question be divided, specifying in his motion how it is to be
divided. Any one else can move as
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an amendment to this, to divide it differently.
This Division of a Question is really an amendment [Sec. 23], and subject
to the same rules. Instead of moving a division of the question, the
same result can be usually attained by moving some other form of an
amendment. When the question is divided, each separate question must be
a proper one for the assembly to act upon, even if none of the others
were adopted. Thus, a motion to "commit with instructions," is
indivisible, because if divided, and the motion to commit should fail,
then the other motion to instruct the committee would be improper, as
there would be no committee to instruct.* [The 46th Rule of the House of
Representatives requires the division of a question on the demand of one
member, provided "it comprehends propositions in substance so distinct
that one being taken away, a substantive proposition shall remain for
the decision of the House." But this does not allow a division so as to
have a vote on separate items or names. The 121st Rule expressly
provides that on the demand of one-fifth of the members a separate vote
shall be taken on such items separately, and others collectively, as
shall be specified in the call, in the case of a bill making
appropriations for internal improvements. But this right to divide a
question into items extends to no case but the one specified. The
common parliamentary law allows of no division except when the assembly
orders it, and in ordinary assemblies this rule will be found to give
less trouble than the Congressional one.]
The motion to "strike out certain words and insert others," is
indivisible, as it is strictly one proposition.
5. After a question has been stated by the presiding officer, it is in
the possession of the
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assembly for debate; the mover cannot withdraw or modify it, if any one
objects, except by obtaining leave from the assembly [Sec. 17], or by
moving an amendment.
Art. II. General Classification of Motions.
6. A Principal or Main Question or Motion, is a motion made to bring
before the assembly, for its consideration, any particular subject. No
Principal Motion can be made when any other question is before the
assembly. It takes precedence of nothing, and yields to all Privileged,
Incidental and Subsidiary Questions [Sec.Sec. 7, 8, 9].
7. Subsidiary or Secondary Questions or Motions relate to a Principal
Motion, and enable the assembly to dispose of it in the most appropriate
manner. These motions take precedence of the Principal Question, and
must be decided before the Principal Question can be acted upon. They
yield to Privileged and Incidental Questions [Sec.Sec. 8, 9], and are as
follows (being arranged in their order of precedence among themselves):
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Lie on the Table .................... See Sec. 19.
The Previous Question ............... '' Sec. 20.
Postpone to a Certain Day ........... '' Sec. 21.
Commit .............................. '' Sec. 22.
Amend ............................... '' Sec. 23.
Postpone Indefinitely ............... '' Sec. 24.
Any of these motions (except Amend) can be made when one of a lower
order is pending, but none can supersede one of a higher order. They
cannot be applied* [See Plan of Work and Definitions, in Introduction,
for explanation of some of these technical terms.] to one another except
in the following cases: (a) the Previous Question applies to the motion
to Postpone, without affecting the principal motion, and can, if
specified, be applied to a pending amendment [Sec. 20]; (b) the motions to
Postpone to a certain day, and to Commit, can be amended; and (c) a
motion to Amend the minutes can be laid on the table without carrying
the minutes with it [Sec. 19].
8. Incidental Questions are such as arise out of other questions, and,
consequently, take precedence of, and are to be decided before, the
questions which give rise to them. They yield to Privileged Questions
[Sec. 9], and cannot be amended. Excepting an Appeal,
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they are undebatable; an Appeal is debatable or not, according to
circumstances, as shown in Sec. 14. They are as follows:
Appeal (or Questions of Order) ........................... See Sec. 14.
Objection to the Consideration of a Question ............. '' Sec. 15.
The Reading of Papers .................................... '' Sec. 16.
Leave to Withdraw a Motion ............................... '' Sec. 17.
Suspension of the Rules .................................. '' Sec. 18.
9. Privileged Questions are such as, on account of their importance,
take precedence over all other questions whatever, and on account of
this very privilege they are undebatable [Sec. 35], excepting when relating
to the rights of the assembly or its members, as otherwise they could be
made use of so as to seriously interrupt business. They are as follows
(being arranged in their order of precedence among themselves):
To Fix the Time to which the Assembly shall Adjourn ...... See Sec. 10.
Adjourn .................................................. '' Sec. 11.
Questions relating to the Rights and
Privileges of the Assembly or any of
its Members ............................................ '' Sec. 12.
Call for the Orders of the Day ........................... '' Sec. 13.
=== Page 25 ============================================================
Art. III. Motions and their Order of Precedence.* [For a list of all
the ordinary motions, arranged in their order of precedence, see Sec. 64.
All the Privileged and Subsidiary ones in this Article are so arranged.]
[Sec.Sec. 10-13. See Sec. 9.]
10. To Fix the Time to which the Assembly shall Adjourn. This motion
takes precedence of all others, and is in order even after the assembly
has voted to adjourn, provided the Chairman has not announced the result
of the vote. If made when another question is before the assembly, it
is undebatable [Sec. 35]; it can be amended by altering the time. If made
when no other question is before the assembly, it stands as any other
principal motion, and is debatable.** [In ordinary societies it is better
to follow the common parliamentary law, and permit this question to be
introduced as a principal question, when it can be debated and
suppressed [Sec. 58, 59] like other questions. In Congress, it is never
debatable, and has entirely superseded the unprivileged and inferior
motion to "adjourn to a particular time."]
The form of this motion is, "When this assembly
=== Page 26 ============================================================
adjourns, it adjourns to meet at such a time."
11. To Adjourn. This motion (when unqualified) takes precedence of all
others, except to "fix the time to which to adjourn," to which it
yields. It is not debatable, and cannot be amended, or have any other
subsidiary motion [Sec. 7] applied to it. If qualified in any way it loses
its privileged character, and stands as any other principal motion. The
motion to adjourn can be repeated if there has been any intervening
business, though it be simply progress in debate [Sec. 26]. When a
committee is through with any business referred to it, and prepared to
report, instead of adjourning, a motion should be made "to rise," which
motion, in committee, has the same privileges as to adjourn in the
assembly [Sec. 32].
The effect upon Unfinished Business of an adjournment is as follows*
["After six days from the commencement of a second or subsequent session
of any Congress, all bills, resolutions and reports which originated in
the House, and at the close of the next preceding session remained
undetermined, shall be resumed, and acted on in the same manner as if an
adjournment had not taken place." Rule 136, H. R. Any ordinary society
that meets as seldom as once each year, is apt to be composed of as
different membership at its successive meetings, as any two successive
Congresses, and only trouble would result from allowing finished
business to hold over to the next yearly meeting.] [see Session, Sec. 42]:
=== Page 27 ============================================================
(a) When it does not close the session, the business interrupted by the
adjournment is the first in order after the reading of the minutes at
the next meeting, and is treated the same as if there had been no
adjournment; an adjourned meeting being legally the continuation of the
meeting of which it is an adjournment.
(b) When it closes a session in an assembly which has more than one
regular session each year, then the unfinished business is taken up at
the next succeeding session previous to new business, and treated the
same as if there had been no adjournment [see Sec. 44, for its place in the
order of business]. Provided, that, in a body elected for a definite
time (as a board of directors elected for one year), unfinished business
falls to the ground with the expiration of the term for which the board
or any portion of them were elected.
(c) When the adjournment closes a session in an assembly which does not
meet more frequently than once a year, or when the assembly is an
elective body, and this session ends
=== Page 28 ============================================================
the term of a portion of the members, the adjournment shall put an end
to all business unfinished at the close of the session. The business
can be introduced at the next session, the same as if it had never been
before the assembly.
12. Questions of Privilege. Questions relating to the rights and
privileges of the assembly, or any of its members, take precedence of
all other questions, except the two preceding, to which they yield. The
Previous Question [Sec. 20] can be applied to these, as to all other
13. Orders of the Day. A call for the Orders of the Day takes
precedence of every other motion, excepting to Reconsider [Sec. 27], and
the three preceding, to which latter three it yields, and is not
debatable, nor can it be amended. It does not require to be seconded.
When one or more subjects have been assigned to a particular day or
hour, they become the Orders of the Day for that day or hour, and they
cannot be considered before that time, except by a two-thirds vote [Sec.
39]. And when that day or hour arrives, if called up, they take
precedence of all but the three
=== Page 29 ============================================================
preceding questions [Sec.Sec. 10, 11, 12]. Instead of considering them the
assembly may appoint another time for their consideration. If not taken
up on the day specified, the order falls to the ground.
When the Orders of the Day are taken up, it is necessary to take up the
separate questions in their exact order, the one first assigned to the
day or hour, taking precedence of one afterwards assigned to the same
day or hour. (A motion to take up a particular part of the Orders of
the Day, or a certain question is not a privileged motion). Any of the
subjects, when taken up, instead of being then considered, can be
assigned to some other time.
The Form of this question, as put by the Chair when the proper time
arrives, or on the call of a member, is, "Shall the Order of the Day be
taken up?" or, "Will the assembly now proceed with the Orders of the
The Effect of an affirmative vote on a call for the Orders of the Day,
is to remove the question under consideration from before the assembly,
the same as if it had been interrupted by an adjournment [Sec. 11].
The Effect of a negative vote is to dispense
=== Page 30 ============================================================
with the orders merely so far as they interfere with the consideration
of the question then before the assembly.
[Sec.Sec. 14-18; see Sec. 8]
14. Appeal [Questions of Order]. A Question of Order takes precedence
of the question giving rise to it, and must be decided by the presiding
officer without debate. If a member objects to the decision, he says,
"I appeal from the decision of the Chair." If the Appeal is seconded,
the Chairman immediately states the question as follows: "Shall the
decision of the Chair stand as the judgement of the assembly?"* [The
word Assembly can be replaced by Society, Convention, Board, etc.,
according to the name of the organization.] This Appeal yields to
Privileged Questions [Sec. 9]. It cannot be amended; it cannot be debated
when it relates simply to indecorum [Sec. 36], or to transgressions of the
rules of speaking, or to the priority of business, or if it is made
while the previous question [Sec. 20] is pending. When debatable, no
member is allowed to speak but once, and whether debatable or not, the
presiding officer, without leaving the
=== Page 31 ============================================================
Chair, can state the reasons upon which he bases his decision. The
motions to Lie on the Table [Sec. 19], or for the Previous Question [Sec. 20],
can be applied to an Appeal, when it is debatable, and when adopted they
affect nothing but the Appeal. The vote on an Appeal may also be
reconsidered [Sec. 27]. An Appeal is not in order when another Appeal is
It is the duty of the presiding officer to enforce the rules and orders
of the assembly, without debate or delay. It is also the right of every
member, who notices a breach of a rule to insist upon its enforcement.
In such cases he shall rise from his seat, and say, "Mr. Chairman, I
rise to a point of order." The speaker should immediately take his
seat, and the Chairman requests the member to state his point of order,
which he does, and resumes his seat. The Chair decides the point, and
then, if no appeal is taken, permits the first member to resume his
speech. If the member's remarks are decided to be improper, and any one
objects to his continuing his speech, he cannot continue it without a
vote of the assembly to that effect. Instead of the method just
described, it is usual, when it is simply a case of improper language
used in debate, for a member to say, "I call the gentleman to order;"
=== Page 32 ============================================================
decides whether the speaker is in or out of order, and proceeds as
before. The Chairman can ask the advice of members when he has to
decide questions of order, but the advice must be given sitting, to
avoid the appearance of debate; or the Chair, when unable to decide the
question, may at once submit it to the assembly. The effect of laying
an appeal on the table, is to sustain, at least for the time, the
decision of the Chair, and does not carry to the table the question
which gave rise to the question of Order.
15. Objection to the Consideration a Question. An objection can be
made to any principal motion [Sec. 6], but only when it is first
introduced, before it has been debated. It is similar to a question of
order [Sec. 14,] in that it can be made while another member has the floor,
and does not require a second; and as the Chairman can call a member to
order, so can he put this question if he deems it necessary, upon his
own responsibility. It can not be debated [Sec. 35] or have any subsidiary
motion [Sec. 7] applied to it. When a motion is made and any member
"objects to its consideration," the Chairman shall immediately put the
question, "Will the assembly consider it?" or, "Shall the question be
=== Page 33 ============================================================
[or discussed]? If decided in the negative by a two-thirds vote [Sec. 39],
the whole matter is dismissed for that session [Sec. 42]; otherwise the
discussion continues as if this question had never been made.
The Object of this motion is not to cut off debate (for which other
motions are provided, see Sec. 37), but to enable the assembly to avoid
altogether any question which it may deem irrelevant, unprofitable or
contentious.* [In Congress, the introduction of such questions could be
temporarily prevented by a majority vote under the 41St Rule of the
House of Representatives, which is as follows: "Where any motion or
proposition is made, the question, 'Will the House now consider it?'
shall not be put unless it is demanded by some member, or is deemed
necessary by the Speaker." The English use the "Previous Question," for
a similar purpose [see note to Sec. 20]. The question of consideration is
seldom raised in Congress, but in assemblies with very short sessions,
where but few questions can or should be considered, it seems a
necessity that two-thirds of the assembly should be able to instantly
throw out a question they do not wish to consider. The more common
form, in ordinary societies, of putting this question, is, "Shall the
question be discussed?" The form to which preference is given in the
rule conforms more to the Congressional one, and is less liable to be
Reading Papers. [For the order of precedence, see Sec. 8.] Where papers
are laid before the assembly, every member has a right to have them once
read before he can be compelled to vote on them, and whenever a member
asks for the reading of any such
=== Page 34 ============================================================
paper, evidently for information, and not for delay, the Chair should
direct it to be read, if no one objects. But a member has not the right
to have anything read (excepting stated above) without getting
permission from the assembly.
17. Withdrawal of a Motion. [For order of precedence, see Sec. 8.] When a
question is before the assembly and the mover wishes to withdraw or
modify it, or substitute a different one in its place, if no one
objects, the presiding officer grants the permission; if any objection
is made, it will be necessary to obtain leave to withdraw, etc., on a
motion for that purpose. This motion cannot be debated or amended.
When a motion is withdrawn, the effect is the same as if it had never
been made.* [In Congress, a motion may be withdrawn by the mover, before
a decision or amendment [Rule 40, H. R.]. Nothing would be gained in
ordinary societies by varying from the common law as stated above.]
18. Suspension of the Rules. [For the order of precedence, see Sec. 8.]
This motion is not debatable, and cannot be amended, nor can any
subsidiary [Sec. 7] motion be applied to it, nor a vote on it be
reconsidered [Sec. 27],
=== Page 35 ============================================================
nor a motion to suspend the rules for the same purpose be renewed [Sec. 26]
at the same meeting, though it may be renewed after an adjournment,
though the next meeting be held the same day.* [In Congress, it cannot
be renewed the same day.] The rules of the assembly shall not be
suspended except for a definite purpose, and by a two-thirds vote.
The Form of this motion is, to "suspend the rules which interfere with,"
etc., specifying the object of the suspension.
[Sec.Sec. 19-24; see Sec. 7.]
19. To Lie on the Table. This motion takes precedence of all other
Subsidiary Questions [Sec. 7], and yields to any Privileged [Sec. 9] or
Incidental [Sec. 8] Question. It is not debatable, and cannot be amended or
have any other subsidiary motion [Sec. 7] applied to it. It removes the
subject from consideration till the assembly vote to take it from the
The Form of this motion is, "I move that the question lie on the table,"
or, "that it be laid on the table," or, "to lay the question
=== Page 36 ============================================================
on the table." When it is desired to take the question up again, a
motion is made, either "to take the question from the table," or "to now
consider such and such a question;" which motion is undebatable, and
cannot have any subsidiary motion applied to it.
The Object of this motion is to postpone the subject in such a way, that
at any time it can be taken up, either at the same or some future
meeting, which could not be accomplished by a motion to postpone, either
definitely or indefinitely. It is also frequently used to suppress a
question [Sec. 59], which it does, provided a majority vote can never be
obtained to take it from the table during that session [Sec. 42].
The Effect of this motion is in general to place on the table everything
that adheres to the subject; so that if an amendment be ordered to lie
on the table, the subject which it is proposed to amend, goes there with
it. The following cases are exceptional: (a) An appeal [Sec. 14] being
laid on the table, has the effect of sustaining, at least for the time,
the decision of the Chair, and does not carry the original subject to
the table. (b) So when a motion to reconsider [Sec. 27] a question is
=== Page 37 ============================================================
laid on the table, the original question is left where it was before the
reconsideration was moved. (c) An amendment to the minutes being laid
on the table does not carry the minutes with it.
Even after the ordering of the Previous Question up to the moment of
taking the last vote under it, it is in order to lay upon the table the
question before the assembly.
20. The Previous Question* [The Previous Question is a technical name
for this motion, conveying a wrong impression of its import, as it has
nothing to do with the subject previously under consideration. To
demand the previous question is equivalent in effect to moving "That
debate now cease, and the assembly immediately proceed to vote on the
questions before it," (the exceptions are stated above). The English
Previous Question is an entirely different one from ours, and is used
for a different purpose. In the English Parliament it is moved by the
enemies of a measure, who then vote in the negative, and thus prevent
for the day, the consideration of the main question, (which in this
country could be accomplished by "objecting to the consideration of the
question" [Sec. 15], if the objection were sustained). In our Congress, it
is moved by the friends of a measure, who vote in the affirmative with a
view to cutting off debate and immediately bringing the assembly to a
vote on the questions before it. The rules in the two cases are as
different as the objects of the motions. It requires only a majority
vote for its adoption in the House of Representatives, and is not
allowed in the United Senate.] takes precedence of every debatable
question [Sec. 35], and yields to Privileged [Sec. 9] and Incidental [Sec. 8]
questions and to the motion to Lie on the table [Sec. 19]. It is not
debatable, and cannot be amended or have any other Subsidiary
=== Page 38 ============================================================
[Sec. 7] motion applied to it. It shall require a two-thirds vote for its
When a member calls for the previous question, and the call is seconded,
the presiding officer must immediately put the question: "Shall the
main question be now put?" If adopted, the member who introduced the
pending measure still has the right to close the debate [Sec. 34] after
which the presiding officer, without allowing further discussion, shall
put to vote the questions before the assembly, in their order of
precedence, till the main question, with all its subsidiary and
incidental questions, is disposed of (see the exceptions below). If it
fails, the discussion continues as if this motion had not been made.
The previous question can be moved on a pending amendment, and if
adopted, debate is closed on the amendment only. After the amendment is
voted on, the main question is again open to debate and amendments. [In
this case the form of the question would be similar to this : "Shall
the amendment be now put to the question?"]
=== Page 39 ============================================================
The Object of this motion is to bring the assembly to a vote on the
question before it without further debate. In ordinary assemblies it is
rarely expedient to deprive a large minority of the right of debate, and
yet two-thirds of the members should have the right to close the debate
when they think it best.
It applies to questions of privilege [Sec. 12] as well as any other
debatable questions. It is allowable for a member to submit a
resolution and at the same time move the previous question thereon.
To illustrate the Effect of this motion, suppose it is adopted when we
have before the assembly, (a) the main question; (b) an amendment; (c) a
motion to commit; (d) a motion to amend the last motion by giving the
committee instructions. The previous question being carried, the
presiding officer would immediately put the question on the last motion
(d); then on the motion to commit, (c); and if this is adopted, of
course the subject is referred to the committee and disposed of for the
present; but if it fails, the amendment (b) is put, and finally the main
Exceptions: If the Previous Question is
=== Page 40 ============================================================
carried while a motion to Postpone is pending, its effect is only to
bring the assembly to a vote on that motion; if it is voted not to
postpone, the subject is again open for debate. So if an Appeal [Sec. 14]
or a motion to Reconsider [Sec. 27] is pending when the Previous Question
is ordered, it applies only to them and is exhausted by the vote on
An affirmative vote on the motion to Commit [Sec. 22] exhausts the Previous
Question and if the vote is reconsidered, it is divested of the Previous
[For other methods of closing debate see Sec. 37 and Sec. 58].
21. To Postpone to a Certain Day. This motion takes precedence of a
motion to Commit, or Amend, or Indefinitely Postpone, and yields to any
Privileged [Sec. 9] or Incidental [Sec. 8] question, and to the motion to Lie
on the Table, or for the Previous Question. It can be amended by
altering the time, and Previous Question can be applied to it without
affecting any other motions pending. It allows of very limited debate
[Sec. 35], and must not go into the merits of the subject matter any
further than is necessary to enable the
=== Page 41 ============================================================
assembly to judge the propriety of the postponement.
The Effect of this motion is to postpone the entire subject to the time
specified, until which time it cannot be taken up except by a two-thirds
vote [Sec. 13]. When that time arrives it is entitled to be taken up in
preference to every thing except Privileged questions. Where several
questions are postponed to different times and are not reached then,
they shall be considered in the order of the times to which they were
postponed. It is not in order to postpone to a time beyond that session
[Sec. 42] of the assembly, except* [In Congress a motion cannot be
postponed to the next session, but it is customary in ordinary
societies.] to the day of the next session when it comes up with the
unfinished business, and consequently takes precedence of new business
[Sec. 44]. If it is desired to hold an adjourned meeting to consider a
special subject, the time to which the assembly shall adjourn [Sec. 10]
should be first fixed before making the motion to postpone the subject
to that day.
22. To Commit [or Recommit as it is called when the subject has been
previously committed]. This motion takes precedence of the motions to
Amend or Indefinitely Postpone, and yields to any Privileged [Sec. 9] or
=== Page 42 ============================================================
[Sec. 8] Question, and also to the motion to Lie on the Table, or for the
Previous Question, or to Postpone to a certain day. It can be amended
by altering the committee, or giving it instructions. It is debatable,
and opens to debate [Sec. 35] the merits of the question it is proposed to
The Form of this motion is "to refer the subject to a committee." When
different committees are proposed they should he voted in the following
order: (1) Committee the whole [Sec. 32], (2) a standing committee, and
(3) a special (or select) committee. The number of a committee is
usually decided without the formality of a motion, as in filling blanks
[Sec. 25]: the Chairman asks "of how many shall the committee consist?"
and a question is then put upon each number suggested, beginning with
the largest. The number and kind of the committee need not be decided
till after it has been voted to refer the subject to a committee. If
the committee is a select one, and the motion does not include the
method of appointing it, and there is no standing rule on the subject,
the Chairman inquires how the committee shall be appointed, and this is
usually decided informally. Sometimes the Chair "appoints," in which
case he names the members of the committee and no vote is taken
=== Page 43 ============================================================
upon them; or the committee is "nominated" either by the Chair or
members of the assembly (no member nominating more than one except by
general consent), and then they are all voted upon together, except
where more nominations are made than the number of the committee, when
they shall be voted upon singly.
Where a committee is one for action (a committee of arrangements for
holding a public meeting, for example), it should generally be small and
no one placed upon it who is not favorable to the proposed action; and
if any such should be appointed he should ask to be excused. But when
the committee is for deliberation or investigation, it is of the utmost
importance that all parties be represented on it, so that in committee
the fullest discussion may take place, and thus diminish the chances of
unpleasant debates in the assembly.
In ordinary assemblies, by judicious appointment of committees, debates
upon delicate and troublesome questions can be mostly confined to the
committees, which will contain the representative members of all
parties. [See Reports of Committees, Sec. 29.]
23. To Amend. This motion takes precedence of nothing but the question
which it proposed to amend, and yields to any Privileged
=== Page 44 ============================================================
[Sec. 9], Incidental [Sec. 8] or Subsidiary [Sec. 7] Question, except to
Indefinitely Postpone. It can be amended itself, but "amendment of an
amendment" cannot be amended. An Amendment may be inconsistent with one
already adopted, or may directly conflict with the spirit of the
original motion, but it must have a direct bearing upon the subject of
that motion. To illustrate: a motion for a vote of thanks could be
amended by substituting for "thanks" the word "censure;" or condemning
certain customs could be amended by adding other customs.
An Amendment may be in any of the following forms: (a) to "add or
insert" certain words or paragraphs; (b) to "strike out" certain words
or paragraphs, the question, however, being stated by the Chair thus:
"Shall these words (or paragraphs) stand as a part of the resolution?"
and if this is adopted (that is, the motion to "strike out," fails) it
does not preclude either amendment or a motion to "strike out and
insert;" (c) "to strike certain words and insert others," which motion
is indivisible, and if lost does not preclude
=== Page 45 ============================================================
another motion to strike out the same words and insert different ones;
(d) to "substitute" another motion on the same subject for the one
pending; (e) to "divide the question" into two or more questions, as the
mover specifies, so as to get a separate vote on any particular point or
points [see Sec. 4].
If a paragraph is inserted it should be perfected by its friends
previous to voting on it, as when once inserted it cannot be struck out
or amended except by adding to it. The same is true in regard to words
to be inserted in a resolution, as when once inserted they cannot be
struck out, except by a motion to strike out the paragraph, or such a
portion of it as shall make the question an entirely different one from
that of inserting the particular words. The principle involved is that
when the assembly has voted that certain words shall form a part of a
resolution, it is not in order to make another motion which involves
exactly the same question as the one they have decided. The only way to
bring it up again is to move a Reconsideration [Sec. 27] of the vote by
which the words were inserted.
In stating the question on an Amendment the Chairman should read (1) the
passage to be amended; (2) the words to be struck out, if any; (3) the
words to be inserted, if any; and (4) the whole passage as it will stand
=== Page 46 ============================================================
the amendment is adopted. [For amending reports of committees, and
propositions containing several paragraphs, see Sec. 44.]
The numbers prefixed to paragraphs are only marginal indications, and
should be corrected, if necessary, by the clerk, without any motion to
The following motions cannot be amended:
To Adjourn (when unqualified) ............................ See Sec. 11.
For the Orders of the Day ................................ '' Sec. 12.
All Incidental Questions ................................. '' Sec. 8.
To Lie on the Table ...................................... '' Sec. 19.
For the Previous Question ................................ '' Sec. 20.
An Amendment of an Amendment ............................. '' Sec. 23.
To Postpone Indefinitely ................................. '' Sec. 24.
Reconsider ............................................... '' Sec. 27.
An Amendment to Rules of Order, By-Laws or a Constitution shall require
previous notice and a two-thirds vote for its adoption [see Sec. 45].
24. To Postpone Indefinitely. This motion takes precedence of nothing
except the Principal Question [Sec. 6], and yields to any Privileged [Sec. 9],
Incidental [Sec. 8] or Subsidiary [Sec. 7] Motion, except to Amend. It cannot
be amended; it opens to debate the entire question which it is proposed
to postpone. Its effect is to entirely remove the question from before
the assembly for that session [Sec. 42].
=== Page 47 ============================================================
The Previous Question [Sec. 20], if ordered when this motion is pending,
applies only to it without affecting the main question.
25. Filling Blanks. In filling blanks the largest sum and the longest
time proposed shall be first put to the question. Sometimes the most
convenient way of amending a resolution is to create a blank by moving
to strike out a certain number or time. It is customary for any number
of members to propose numbers to fill a blank without the formality of a
motion, these different propositions not being regarded in the light of
Nominations are treated in a similar manner, so that the second
nomination, instead of being an amendment to the first, is an
independent motion, which, if the first fails, is to be immediately
voted upon. Any number of nominations can be made, the Chairman
announcing each name as he hears it, and they
=== Page 48 ============================================================
should be voted upon in the order announced until one receives a vote
sufficient for an election.
26. Renewal of a Motion. When any Principal Question [Sec. 6] or
Amendment has been once acted upon by the assembly, it cannot be taken
up again at the same session [Sec. 42] except by a motion to Reconsider [Sec.
27]. The motion to Adjourn can be renewed if there has been progress in
debate, or any business transacted. As a general rule the introduction
of any motion that alters the state of affairs makes it admissible to
renew any Privileged or Incidental motion (excepting Suspension of the
Rules as provided in Sec. 18), or Subsidiary motion (excepting an
amendment), as in such a case the real question before the assembly is a
To illustrate: a motion that a question lie on the table having failed,
suppose afterwards it be moved to refer the matter to a committee, it is
now in order to move again that the subject lie on the table; but such a
motion would not be in order, if it were not made till after the failure
of the motion to commit, as
=== Page 49 ============================================================
the question then resumes its previous condition.
When a subject has been referred to a committee which reports at the
same meeting, the matter stands before the assembly as if it had been
introduced for the first time. A motion which has been withdrawn has
not been acted upon, and therefore can be renewed.
27. Reconsider. It is in order at any time, even when another member
has the floor, or while the assembly is voting on the motion to Adjourn,
during the day* [In Congress any one can move a reconsideration,
excepting where the vote is taken by yeas and nays [Sec. 38], when the rule
above applies. The motion can be made on the same or succeeding day.]
on which a motion has been acted upon, to move to "Reconsider the vote"
and have such motion "entered on the record," but it cannot be
considered while another question is before the assembly. It must be
made, excepting when the vote is by ballot, by a member who voted with
the prevailing side; for instance, in case a motion fails to pass for
lack of a two-thirds vote, a reconsideration must be moved by one who
voted against the motion.
A motion to reconsider the vote on a Subsidiary [Sec. 7] motion takes
precedence of the main question. It yields to Privileged [Sec. 9]
=== Page 50 ============================================================
questions (except for the Orders of the Day, and Incidental [Sec. 8]
This motion can be applied* [It is not the practice to reconsider an
affirmative vote on the motion to lie on the table, as the same result
can be more easily reached by the motion to take from the table. For a
similar reason, an affirmative vote on the motion to take from the table
cannot be reconsidered.] to every question, except to Adjourn and to
Suspend the Rules. It is debatable or not, just as the question to be
reconsidered is debatable or undebatable [Sec. 35]; when debatable, it
opens up for discussion the entire subject to be reconsidered, and can
have the Previous question [Sec. 20] applied to it without affecting any
thing but the motion to reconsider. It can be laid on the table [Sec. 19],
and in such cases the last motion cannot be reconsidered; it is quite
common and allowable to combine these two motions (though they must be
voted on separately); in this case, the reconsideration like any other
question, can be taken from the table, but possesses no privilege.* [In
Congress this is a common method used by the friends of a measure to
prevent its reconsideration.] The motion to reconsider being laid on the
table does not carry with it the pending measure. If an amendment to a
motion has been either adopted or rejected, and then a vote taken on the
motion as amended, it is not in order to reconsider the vote on the
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after the vote on the original motion has been reconsidered. If
anything which the assembly cannot reverse, has been done as the result
a vote, then that vote cannot be reconsidered.
The Effect of making this motion is to suspend all action that the
original motion would have required until the reconsideration is acted
upon; but if it is not called up, its effect terminates with the session
[Sec. 42], provided,* [In Congress the effect always terminates with the
session, and it cannot be called up by any one but the mover, until the
expiration of the time during which it is in order to move a
reconsideration.] that in an assembly having regular meetings as often
as monthly, if no adjourned meeting upon another day is held of the one
at which the reconsideration was moved, its effect shall not terminate
till the close of the next succeeding session. [See note at end of this
section.] While this motion is so highly privileged as far as relates to
having it entered on the minutes, yet the reconsideration of another
question cannot be made to interfere with the discussion of a question
before the assembly, but as soon as that subject is disposed of, the
reconsideration, if called up, takes precedence of every thing except
the motions to adjourn, and to fix the time to which to adjourn. As
long as its effect lasts (as shown above), any one can call up the
motion to reconsider and have it acted upon--excepting that when its
effect extends beyond the meeting at which the motion was made, no one
but the mover can call it up at that meeting. But the reconsideration
of an Incidental [Sec. 8] or Subsidiary [Sec. 7]
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motion shall be immediately acted upon, as otherwise it would prevent
action on the main question.
The Effect of the adoption of this motion is to place before the
assembly the original question in the exact position it occupied before
it was voted upon; consequently no one can debate the question
reconsidered who had previously exhausted his right of debate [Sec. 34] on
that question; his only resource is to discuss the question while the
motion to reconsider is before the assembly.
When a vote taken under the operation of the previous question [Sec. 20] is
reconsidered, the question is then divested of the previous question,
and is open to debate and amendment, provided the previous question had
been exhausted [see latter part of Sec. 20] by votes taken on all the
questions covered by it, before the motion to reconsider was made.
A reconsideration requires only a majority vote, regardless of the vote
necessary to adopt the motion reconsidered. [For reconsidering in
committee see Sec. 28].
Note On Reconsider.--In the English Parliament a vote once taken
cannot be reconsidered, but in our Congress it is allowed to move a
reconsideration of the vote on the same or succeeding day, and after the
close of the last day for making the motion, any one can call up the
motion to reconsider, so that this motion cannot delay action more than
two days, and the effect
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of the motion, if not acted upon, terminates with the session. There
seems to be no reason or good precedent for permitting merely two
persons, by moving a reconsideration, to suspend for any length of time
all action under resolutions adopted by the assembly, and yet where the
delay is very short the advantages of reconsideration overbalance the
Where a permanent society has meetings weekly or monthly, and usually
only a small proportion of the society is present, it seems best to
allow a reconsideration to hold over to another meeting, so that the
society may have notice of what action is about to be taken. To prevent
the motion being used to defeat a measure that cannot be deferred till
the next regular meeting, it is provided that in case the society
adjourn, to meet the next day for instance, then the reconsideration
will not hold over beyond that session; this allows sufficient delay to
notify the society, while, if the question is one requiring immediate
action, the delay cannot extend beyond the day to which they adjourn.
Where the meetings are only quarterly or annual, the society should be
properly represented at each meeting, and their best interests are
subserved by following the practice of Congress, and letting the effect
of the reconsideration terminate with the session.
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Art. IV. Committees and Informal Action.
28. Committees. It is usual in deliberative assemblies, to have all
preliminary work in the preparation of matter for their action, done by
means of committees. These may be either "standing committees" (which
are appointed for the session [Sec. 42], or for some definite time, as one
year); or "select committees," appointed for a special purpose; or a
"committee of the whole" [Sec. 32], consisting of the entire assembly.
[For method of appointing committees of the whole, see Sec. 32; other
committees, see commit, Sec. 22.] The first person named on a committee is
chairman, and should act as such, without the committee should see fit
to elect another chairman, which they are competent to do. The clerk
should furnish him, or some other member of the committee, with notice
of the appointment of the committee, giving the names
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of the members, the matter referred to them, and such instructions as
the assembly have decided upon. The chairman shall call the committee
together, and if there is a quorum (a majority of the committee, see Sec.
43,) he should read or have read, the entire resolutions referred to
them; he should then read each paragraph, and pause for amendments to be
offered; when the amendments to that paragraph are voted on he proceeds
to the next, only taking votes on amendments, as the committee cannot
vote on the adoption of matter referred to them by the assembly.
If the committee originate the resolutions, they vote, in the same way,
on amendments to each paragraph of the draft of the resolutions, (which
draft has been previously prepared by one of their members or a
sub-committee); they do not vote on the separate paragraphs, but having
completed the amendments, they vote on the adoption of the entire
report. When there is a preamble, it is considered last. If the report
originates with the committee, all amendments are to be incorporated in
the report; but, if the resolutions were referred, the committee cannot
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the text, but must submit the original paper intact, with their
amendments (which may be in the form of a substitute, Sec. 23) written on a
A committee is a miniature assembly that must meet together in order to
transact business, and usually one of its members should be appointed
its clerk. Whatever is not agreed to by the majority of the members
present at a meeting (at which a quorum, consisting of a majority of the
members of the committee, shall be present) cannot form a part of its
report. The minority may be permitted to submit their views in writing
also, either together, or each member separately, but their reports can
only be acted upon, by voting to substitute one of them for the report
of the committee. The rules of the assembly, as far as possible, shall
apply in committee; but a reconsideration [Sec. 27] of a vote shall be
allowed, regardless of the time elapsed, only when every member who
voted with the majority is present when the reconsideration is moved.*
[Both the English common parliamentary law and the rules of Congress
prohibit the reconsideration of a vote by a committee; but the strict
enforcement of this rule in ordinary committees, would interfere with
rather than assist the transaction of business. The rule given above
seems more just, and more in accordance with the practice of ordinary
committees, who usually reconsider at pleasure. No improper advantage
can be taken of the privilege, as long as every member who voted with
the majority must be present when the reconsideration is moved.] A
committee (except a committee
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of the whole, Sec. 32) may appoint a sub-committee. When through with the
business assigned them, a motion is made for the committee to "rise"
(which is equivalent to the motion to adjourn), and that the chairman
(or some member who is more familiar with the subject) make its report
to the assembly. The committee ceases to exist as soon as the assembly
receives the report [Sec. 30].
The committee has no power to punish its members for disorderly conduct,
its resource being to report the facts to the assembly. No allusion can
be made in the assembly to what has occurred in committee, except it be
by a report of the committee, or by general consent. It is the duty of
a committee to meet on the call of any two its of members, if the
chairman be absent or decline to appoint such meeting. When a committee
adjourns without appointing a time for the next meeting, it is called
together in the same way as at its first meeting. When a committee
adjourns to meet at another time, it is not necessary (though
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usually advisable) that absent members should be notified of the
29. Forms of Reports of Committees. The form of a report is usually
similar to the following:
A standing committee reports thus: "The committee on [insert name of
committee] respectfully report," [or "beg leave to report," or "beg
leave to submit the following report,"] etc., letting the report follow.
A select or special committee reports as follows: "The committee to
which was referred [state the matter referred] having considered the
same respectfully report," etc. Or for "The committee" is sometimes
written "Your committee," or "The undersigned, a committee."
When a minority report is submitted, it should be in this form (the
majority reporting as above): "The undersigned, a minority of a
committee to which was referred," etc. The majority report is the
report of the committee, and should never be made out as the report of
All reports conclude with, "All of which is
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respectfully submitted." They are sometimes signed only by the chairman
of the committee, but if the matter is of much importance, it is better
that the report be signed by every member who concurs. The report is
not usually dated, or addressed, but can he headed, as for example,
"Report of the Finance Committee of the Y. P. A., on Renting a Hall."
30. Reception of Reports. When the report of a committee is to be
made, the chairman (or member appointed to make the report) informs the
assembly that the committee to whom was referred such a subject or
paper, has directed him to make a report thereon, or report it with or
without amendment, as the case may be; either he or any other member may
move that it be "received"* [A very common error is, after a report has
been read, to move that it be received; whereas, the fact that it has
been read, shows that it has been already received by the assembly.
Another mistake, less common, but dangerous, is to vote that the report
be accepted (which is equivalent to adopting it, see Sec. 31), when the
intention is only to have the report up for consideration and afterwards
move its adoption. Still a third error is to move that "the report be
adopted and the committee discharged," when the committee have reported
in full and their report been received, so that the committee has
already ceased to exist. If the committee however have made but a
partial report, or report progress, then it is in order to move that the
committee be discharged from the further consideration of the subject.]
now or at some other specified time.
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Usually the formality of a vote on the reception of a report of a
committee is dispensed with, the time being settled by general consent.
Should any one object, a formal motion becomes necessary. When the time
arrives for the assembly to receive the report, the chairman of the
committee reads it in his place, and then delivers it to the clerk, when
it lies on the table till the assembly sees fit to consider it. If the
report consists of a paper with amendments, the chairman of the
committee reads the amendments with the coherence in the paper,
explaining the alterations and reasons of the committee for the
amendments, till he has gone through the whole. If the report is very
long, it is not usually read until the assembly is ready to consider it
[see Sec.Sec. 31 and 44].
When the report has been received, whether it has been read or not, the
committee is thereby dissolved, and can act no more without it is
revived by a vote to recommit. If the report is recommitted, all the
parts of the report that have not been agreed to by the assembly, are
ignored by the committee as if the report had never been made.
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31. Adoption of Reports. When the assembly is to consider a report, a
motion should be made to "adopt," "accept," or "agree to" the report,
all of which, when carried, have the same effect, namely, to make the
doings of the committee become the acts of the assembly, the same as if
done by the assembly without the intervention of a committee. If the
report contains merely a statement of opinion or facts, the motion
should be to "accept" the report; if it also concludes with resolutions
or certain propositions, the motion should be to "agree to" the
resolutions, or to "adopt" the propositions. After the above motion is
made, the matter stands before the assembly exactly the same as if there
had been no committee, and the subject had been introduced by the motion
of the member who made the report. [See Sec. 34 for his privileges in
debate, and Sec. 44 for the method of treating a report containing several
propositions, when being considered by the assembly.]
32. Committee of the Whole. When an assembly has to consider a subject
which it does not wish to refer to a committee, and yet where the
subject matter is not well digested
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and put into proper form for its definite action, or, when for any other
reason, it is desirable for the assembly to consider a subject with all
the freedom of an ordinary committee, it is the practice to refer the
matter to the Committee of the Whole."* [In large assemblies, such as
the U. S. House of Representatives, where a member can speak to any
question but once, the committee of the whole seems almost a necessity,
as it allows the freest discussion of a subject, while at any time it
can rise and thus bring into force the strict rules of the assembly.]
If it is desired to consider the question at once, the motion is made,
"That the assembly do now resolve itself into a committee of the whole
to take under consideration," etc., specifying the subject. This is
really a motion to "commit" [see Sec. 22 for its order of precedence,
etc.] If adopted, the Chairman immediately calls another member to the
chair, and takes his place as a member of the committee. The committee
is under the rules of the assembly, excepting as stated hereafter in
The only motions in order are to amend and adopt, and that the committee
"rise and report," as it cannot adjourn; nor can it order the "yeas and
nays" [Sec. 38]. The only way to close or limit debate in committee of the
whole, is for the assembly to vote that the debate in committee shall
cease at a certain time, or that after a certain time no debate shall be
allowed excepting on new amendments, and then only one speech in favor
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and one against it, of say, five minutes each; or in some other way
regulate the time for debate.* [In Congress no motion to limit debate in
committee of the whole is in order till after the subject has been
already considered in committee of the whole. As no subject would
probably be considered more than once in committee of the whole, in an
ordinary society, the enforcement of this rule would practically prevent
such a society from putting any limit to debate in the committee. The
rule as given above, allows the society, whenever resolving itself into
committee of the whole, to impose upon the debate in the committee,
such restrictions as are allowed in Congress after the subject has
already been considered in committee of the whole.]
If no limit is prescribed, any member may speak as often as be can get
the floor, and as long each time as allowed in debate in the assembly,
provided no one wishes the floor who has not spoken on that particular
question. Debate having been closed at a particular time by order of
the assembly, it is not competent for the committee, even by unanimous
consent, to extend the time. The committee cannot refer the subject to
another committee. Like other committees [Sec. 28], it cannot alter the
text of any resolution referred to it; but if the resolution originated
in the committee, then all the amendments are incorporated in it.
When it is through with the consideration of the subject referred to it,
or if it wishes to adjourn, or to have the assembly limit debate, a
motion is made that "the committee rise and report," etc., specifying
the result of its proceedings.
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This motion "to rise" is equivalent to the motion to adjourn, in the
assembly, and is always in order (except when another member has the
floor), and is undebatable. As soon as this motion is adopted, the
presiding officer takes the chair, and the chairman of the committee,
having resumed his place in the assembly, arises and informs him, that
"the committee have gone through the business referred to them, and that
he is ready to make the report, when the assembly is ready to receive
it;" or he will make such other report as will suit the case.
The clerk does not record the proceedings of the committee on the
minutes, but should keep a memorandum of the proceedings for the use of
the committee. In large assemblies the clerk vacates his chair, which
is occupied by the chairman of the committee, and the assistant clerk
acts as clerk of the committee. Should the committee get disorderly,
and the chairman be unable to preserve order, the presiding officer can
take the chair, and declare the committee dissolved. The quorum of the
committee of the whole is the same as that of the assembly [Sec. 43]. If
the committee finds itself without a quorum, it can only rise and report
the fact to the assembly, which in such a case would have to adjourn.
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33. Informal Consideration of a Question (or acting as if in committee
of the whole).
It has become customary in many assemblies, instead of going into
committee of the whole, to consider the question "informally," and
afterwards to act "formally." In a small assembly there is no objection
to this.* [In the U. S. Senate all bills, joint resolutions and
treaties, upon their second reading are considered "as if the Senate
were in committee of the whole," which is equivalent to considering them
informally. [U. S. Senate Rules 28 and 38.) In large assemblies it is
better to follow the practice of the House of Representatives, and go
into committee of the whole.] While acting informally upon any
resolutions, the assembly can only amend and adopt them, and without
further motion the Chairman announces that "the assembly acting
informally [or as in committee of the whole] has had such a subject
under consideration, and has made certain amendments, which he will
report." The subject comes before the assembly then as if reported by a
committee. While acting informally, the Chairman retains his seat, as
it is not necessary to move that the committee rise, but at any time the
adoption of such motions as to adjourn, the previous question, to
commit, or any motion except to amend or adopt, puts an end to the
informal consideration; as for example, the motion to commit is
equivalent to the following motions when in committee of the whole: (1)
That the committee rise; (2) that the committee of
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the whole be discharged from the further consideration of the subject,
and (3) that it be referred to a committee.
While acting informally, every member can speak as many times as he
pleases, and as long each time as permitted in the assembly [Sec. 34], and
the informal action may be rejected or altered by the assembly. While
the clerk should keep a memorandum of the informal proceedings, it
should not be entered on the minutes, being only for temporary use. The
Chairman's report to the assembly of the informal action, should be
entered on the minutes, as it belongs to the assembly's proceedings.
Art. V. Debate and Decorum.
34. Debate.* [In connection with this section read Sec.Sec. 1-5.] When a
motion is made and seconded, it shall be stated by the Chairman before
being debated [see Sec. 3]. When any member is about to speak in debate,
he shall rise and respectfully address himself to "Mr. Chairman."
["Mr. President" is used where that is the designated title of the
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officer; "Brother Moderator" is more common in religious meetings.] The
Chairman shall then announce his name [see Sec. 2]. By parliamentary
courtesy, the member upon whose motion a subject is brought before the
assembly is first entitled to the floor, even though another member has
risen first and addressed the Chair; [in case of a report of a
committee, it is the member who presents the report] ; and this member
is also entitled to close the debate, but not until every member
choosing to speak, has spoken. This right to make the last speech upon
the question, is not taken away by the Previous Question [Sec. 20] being
ordered, or in any other way. With this exception, no member shall
speak more than twice to the same question (only once to a question of
order, Sec. 14), nor longer than ten minutes at one time, without leave of
the assembly, and the question upon granting the leave shall be decided
by a majority vote without debate.* [The limit in time should vary to
suit circumstances, but the limit of two speeches of ten minutes each
will usually answer in ordinary assemblies, and it can be increased,
when desirable, by a majority vote as shown above, or diminished as
shown in Sec. 37. In the U. S. House of Representatives no member can
speak more than once to the same question, nor longer than one hour.
The fourth rule of the Senate is as follows: "No Senator shall speak
more than twice in any one debate on the same day, without leave of the
Senate, which question shall be decided without debate." If no rule is
adopted, each member can speak but once to the same question.]
If greater freedom is desired, the
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proper course is to refer the subject to the committee of the whole [Sec.
32], or to consider it informally [Sec. 33]. [For limiting or closing the
debate, see Sec. 37.] No member can speak the second time to a question,
until every member choosing to speak has spoken. But an amendment, or
any other motion being offered, makes the real question before the
assembly a different one, and, in regard to the right to debate, is
treated as a new question. Merely asking a question, or making a
suggestion is not considered as speaking.
35. Undebatable Questions. The following questions shall be decided
without debate, all others being debatable [see note at end of this
To Fix the Time to which the Assembly shall Adjourn (when a
privileged question, Sec. 10).
To Adjourn [Sec. 11], (or in committee, to rise, which is used instead
of to adjourn).
For the Orders of the Day [Sec. 13], and questions relating to the
priority of business.
An Appeal [Sec. 14] when made while the Previous Question is pending,
or when simply relating to indecorum or transgressions of the rules of
speaking, or to the priority of business.
Objection to the Consideration of a Question [Sec. 15].
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Questions relating to Reading of Papers [Sec. 16], or Withdrawing a
Motion [Sec. 17], or Suspending the Rules [Sec. 18], or extending the limits
of debate [Sec. 34], or limiting or closing debate, or granting leave to
continue his speech to one who has been guilty of indecorum in debate
To Lie on the Table or to Take from the Table [Sec. 19].
The Previous Question [Sec. 20].
To Reconsider [Sec. 26] a question which is itself undebatable.
The motion to Postpone to a certain time [Sec. 21] allows of but very
limited debate, which must be confined to the propriety of the
postponement; but to Reconsider a debatable question [Sec. 26], or to
Commit [Sec. 22], or Indefinitely Postpone [Sec. 24], opens the main question
[Sec. 6] to debate. To Amend [Sec. 23] opens the main question to debate only
so far as it is necessarily involved in the amendment.
The distinction between debate and making suggestions or asking a
question, should always be kept in view, and when the latter will
assist the assembly in determining the question, is allowed to a
limited extent, even though the question before the assembly is
Note On Undebatable Questions.--The English common parliamentary law
makes all motions
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debatable, without there is a rule adopted limiting debate [Cushing's
Manual, Sec. 330]; but every assembly is obliged to restrict debate upon
certain motions. The restrictions to debate prescribed in this section
conform to the practice of Congress, where, however, it is very common
to allow of brief remarks upon the most undebatable questions, sometimes
five or six members speaking; this of course is allowed only when no one
By examining the above list, it will be found, that, while free debate
is allowed upon every principal question [Sec. 6], it is permitted or
prohibited upon other questions in accordance with the following
(a) Highly privileged questions, as a rule, should not be debated, as in
that case they could be used to prevent the assembly from coming to a
vote on the main question; (for instance, if the motion to adjourn were
debatable, it could be used [see Sec. 11] in a way to greatly hinder
business). High privilege is, as a rule, incompatible with the right of
debate on the privileged question.
(b) A motion that has the effect to suppress a question before the
assembly, so that it cannot again be taken up that session [Sec. 42],
allows of free debate. And a subsidiary motion [Sec. 7, except commit,
which see below,] is debatable to just the extent that it interferes
with the right of the assembly to take up the original question at its
Illustrations: To "Indefinitely Postpone" [Sec. 24] a question, places it
out of the power of the assembly to again take it up during that
session, and consequently this motion allows of free debate, even
involving the whole merits of the original question.
To "Postpone to a certain time" prevents the assembly taking up the
question till the specified time, and therefore allows of limited debate
upon the propriety of the postponement.
To "Lie on the Table" leaves the question so
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that the assembly can at any time consider it, and therefore should not
be, and is not debatable.
To "Commit" would not be very debatable, according to this rule, but it
is an exception, because it if often important that the committee should
know the views of the assembly on the question, and it therefore is not
only debatable, but opens to debate the whole question which it is
proposed to refer to the committee.
36. Decorum in Debate [see Sec. 2]. In debate a member must confine
himself to the question before the assembly, and avoid personalities.
He cannot reflect upon any act of the assembly, unless he intends to
conclude his remarks with a motion to rescind such action, or else while
debating such motion. In referring to another member, he should, as
much as possible, avoid using his name, rather referring to him as "the
member who spoke last," or in some other way describing him. The
officers of the assembly should always be referred to by their official
titles. It is not allowable to arraign the motives of a member, but the
nature or consequences of a measure may be condemned in strong terms.
It is not the man, but the measure, that is the subject of debate. If
at any time the Chairman rises to state a point of order, or give
information, or otherwise speak, within his privilege [see
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Sec. 40], the member speaking must take his seat till the Chairman has been
first heard. When called to order, the member must sit down until the
question of order is decided. If his remarks are decided to be
improper, he cannot proceed, if any one objects, without the leave of
the assembly expressed by a vote, upon which question there shall be no
Disorderly words should be taken down by the member who objects to them,
or by the clerk, and then read to the member; if he denies them, the
assembly shall decide by a vote whether they are his words or not. If a
member cannot justify the words he used, and will not suitably apologize
for using them, it is the duty of the assembly to act in the case,
requiring both members to withdraw* [If both are personally interested.
[See page 161.]] till it has decided its course, it being a general rule
that no member should he present in the assembly when any matter
relating to himself is under debate. If any business has taken place
since the member spoke, it is too late to take notice of any disorderly
words he used.
37. Closing Debate. Debate upon a question is not closed by the
Chairman rising to put the question, as, until both the affirmative
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and negative are put, a member can claim the floor, and re-open debate
[see Sec. 38]. Debate can be closed by the following motions, which are
undebatable [Sec. 35], and, except to Lie on the Table, shall require a
two-thirds* [In Congress where each speaker can occupy the floor one
hour, any of these motions to cut off debate can be adopted by a mere
majority. In ordinary societies harmony is so essential, that a
two-thirds vote should be required to force the assembly to a final vote
without allowing free debate.] vote for their adoption [Sec. 39]:
(a) An objection to the consideration of a question [only allowable
when the question is introduced, Sec. 15], which, if sustained, not only
stops debate, but also throws the subject out of the assembly for that
session [Sec. 42]; which latter effect is the one for which it was
(b) To lie on the table [Sec. 19], which, if adopted, carries the
question to the table, from which it cannot be taken without a majority
favors such action.
(c) The previous question [Sec. 20], which has the effect of requiring
all the questions before the assembly [excepting as limited in Sec. 20] to
be put to vote at once without further debate. It may be applied merely
to an amendment or to an amendment of an amendment.
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(d) For the assembly to adopt an order (1) limiting debate upon a
special subject, either as to the number or length of the speeches; or
(2) closing debate upon the subject at a stated time, when all pending
questions shall be put to vote without further debate. Either of these
two measures may be applied only to a pending amendment, or an amendment
thereto, and when this is voted upon, the original question is still
open to debate and amendment.
Art. VI. Vote.
38. Voting. Whenever from the nature of the question it permits of no
modification or debate, the Chairman immediately puts it to vote; if the
question is debatable, when the Chairman thinks the debate has been
brought to a close, he should inquire if the assembly is ready for the
question, and if no one rises he puts the question to vote. There are
various forms for putting the question, in use in different parts of the
country. The rule in Congress, in
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the House of Representatives, is as follows: "Questions shall be
distinctly put in this form, to-wit: 'As many as are of the opinion
that (as the question may be) say Aye;' and after the affirmative voice
is expressed, 'As many as are of the contrary opinion, say No.'" The
following form is very common: "It has been moved and seconded that
(here state the question). As many as are favor of the motion say Aye;
those opposed, No." Or, if the motion is for the adoption of a certain
resolution, after it has been read the Chairman can say, "You have heard
the resolution read; those in favor of its adoption will hold up the
right hand; those opposed will manifest it by the same sign." These
examples are sufficient to show the usual methods of putting a question,
the affirmative being always put first.
When a vote is taken, the Chairman should always announce the result in
the following form: "The motion is carried--the resolution is
adopted," or, "The ayes have it--the resolution is adopted." If, when
he announces a vote, any member rises and states that he doubts the
vote, or calls for a "division," the