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or have any subsidiary motion applied to it. For example, it cannot be laid on the table or postponed indefinitely. A vote on the motion cannot be reconsidered. In Congress a motion to suspend the rules for the same purpose cannot be renewed the same day; in ordinary societies it may be renewed after an adjournment, though the next meeting be held the same day. It is not in order when the body is acting under a suspension of the rules. Neither is it while the previous question is operating. Deliberative bodies usually state in their code of rules what vote is necessary to suspend the rules, and provide that it shall exceed a mere majority; for example, that it shall be two thirds or three fourths. The common usage is to require a twothirds vote.
The rule in the United States House of Representatives is that "No rule shall be suspended except by a vote of two thirds of the members voting, a quorum being present."
Some have held that unless the rules of the body provide for their own suspension they cannot be suspended unless by general or unanimous consent, but the common practice is to permit the suspension of a rule by a twothirds vote.
Good judgment should be used in introducing the motion to suspend, for its too frequent use tends to the destruction of the binding force of the rules. If the rules are suspended on any or every pretext, they practically cease to be rules.
1. To Adjourn. The most common of the privileged questions is the motion to Adjourn. The word “adjourn” is from the word jour, "a day," with the prefix ad. Primarily and literally, it is to a day, and, in a broader sense, to another time, with the idea, as applied to a meeting, that the business and the meeting cease until a future time, it may be a day, an hour, or a longer time or indefinitely. So it has the idea of a postponement, not as applied to a motion, but to the meeting.
So adjourn is defined as follows: "To put off or defer, properly to another day, but also till a later period indefinitely." "To suspend the meeting of, as a public or private body, to a future day or to another place." "To suspend a sitting or transaction till another day, or transfer it to another place; usually said of Legislatures, courts, or other formally organized bodies."
The power to adjourn is vested in a free parliamentary body, and the adjournment is taken on a motion offered by a member of the body. Where the body has a regular time of meeting from day to day, the simple motion to adjourn means until the time for the next regular meeting, at which time the house will reassemble and resume its business. When the intention of the adjournment is to bring the body together again at a time other than the regular day or hour, the time is indicated in the motion.
Various forms may be used. Thus: "Mr. President, I move that we adjourn"; or, "I move that the house do now adjourn"; or, "I move that the house adjourn.” If agreed to, the effect of the motion is to suspend the business and close the meeting.
The simple and unqualified motion to adjourn cannot
be debated, and cannot have an amendment or any other subsidiary motion applied to it, and the vote on it cannot be reconsidered. It supersedes all other motions except "to fix the time to which to adjourn," and to this it yields.
Jefferson says, "A motion to adjourn, simply, cannot be amended, as by adding 'to a particular day,' but must be put simply 'that this House do now adjourn'; and if carried in the affirmative, it is adjourned to the next sitting day, unless it has come to a previous resolution, 'that at its rising it will adjourn to a particular day,' and then the House is adjourned to that day."
When the simple motion to adjourn has been made the Chair promptly puts the motion "that this house do now adjourn," and the body is not adjourned until the question has been put to both sides, and the presiding officer has declared the house adjourned. As Jefferson says: "If a question be put for adjournment, it is no adjournment till the Speaker pronounces it. And from courtesy and respect, no member leaves his place till the Speaker has passed on it."
If the motion to adjourn is qualified in any way the qualification causes it to lose its privileged character, and it stands as any other principal motion.
In some assemblies it is occasionally moved that the house adjourn to meet on a certain day at a certain hour. Thus, "to meet this afternoon at three o'clock." This is not the motion to adjourn pure and simple. Of it Speaker Reed says, "Such a motion would be debatable, amendable, and privileged, but could not be repeated until some business had intervened."
It is frequently said that a motion to adjourn is always in order, but this is not strictly true. Thus, if the motion to adjourn is lost, it cannot be repeated until there has been some intervening business, or at least some progress in debate. Neither can the motion to adjourn be made while a member has the floor; yet the member may, if he pleases, give way, in order that the motion may be pre
sented. A motion to adjourn cannot be received while the yeas and nays are being called, or the house is dividing, or the members are voting on any question, or the verification of a vote is progressing, or when the previous question has been called and sustained and is still pending.
Business interrupted by an adjournment is the first in order after the reading of the minutes at the next meeting, and is to be considered as if there had been no adjournment. An adjourned meeting is the continuation of the meeting which was adjourned.
When the adjournment closes a session of a body which has more than one regular session in a year, then the unfinished business shall be taken up previously to new business at the next session as if no adjournment had taken place, provided the composition of the body has not changed, for example, by the expiration of the term of the members.
If the adjournment closes a session of a body that does not meet oftener than once in a year, or when it is an elective body, and the session ends the term of the members, the unfinished business of the last session falls, but it can be introduced as if it has never been before the body.
If the body has concluded its business, or reached the end of its session, and the intention is not to convene again until the time for the next session, the proper form of the motion to adjourn will be "That the house do now adjourn sine die," or, in plain English, "without day."
The joint resolution for closing the session in the United States Congress is in this form: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives be authorized to close the present session by adjourning their respective Houses on the day of
2. To Fix the Time to which to Adjourn. Another privileged question, and of higher grade than the simple motion to adjourn, is the motion to Fix the Time to which to Adjourn.
The motion to fix the time to which to adjourn does not adjourn the meeting, but is intended to fix the time to which the adjournment will stand when the meeting does adjourn. The form is, "I move that when we adjourn, we adjourn to meet at -" (such a time), or that, "When the house adjourns, it adjourns to meet at a time).
It is unde
It may be amended by altering the time. batable if made when another question is body. If no other question is pending when it is made, it is to be treated as a principal motion, and is debatable, amendable, and may be reconsidered.
As it may be important to determine such a matter even while other matters are pending, this motion takes precedence of all other questions, and if the presiding officer has not announced the result of the vote, it is in order after the meeting has voted to adjourn, otherwise the body might be adjourned out of existence. As Speaker Reed says, "When an assembly has not fixed the date to which it shall adjourn, and it is not otherwise limited by law, an adjournment would be equivalent to a dissolution" (Reed's Rules, p. 126). Under such circumstances Speaker Reed recommends that the presiding officer refuse to entertain the motion to adjourn "unless he puts it as a motion to dissolve, which would have no priority, and, indeed, none of the peculiarities of a motion to adjourn," which "is as its name implies, a proposition to resume another day, and means an intermission."
3. To Take a Recess. Recess, from the Latin recessus, "a going back, retreat, departure, also a retired place, corner, retreat, etc," with the idea of repose, a cessation of labor, "an interval of release from occupation; specifically, a period of relief from attendance, as of a school, a jury, a legislative body, or other assembly; a temporary dismissal."
In a parliamentary sense a recess is a period of release for the body from its duties, usually less extended than an adjournment, though essentially of the same nature.