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Some bodies fix by rule a recess in the midst of the meeting and indicate at what moment it shall begin and how long it will last, so that the recess is a standing order. In such a case when the time is reached the Chair announces the fact, and when the period ends the Chair calls the house to order and the business is resumed. Where there is no such standing rule a motion for a recess must be made and adopted. A member may say, "Mr. President, I move that the house now take a recess until" (such a time); or, "I move that this house take a recess from one o'clock this afternoon until ten o'clock to-morrow morning," or whatever time may be desired. If the motion for a recess is carried, it acts like an adjournment, the business is suspended, and the members disperse until the end of the recess time, when the body resumes its work.
4. Call for the Orders of the Day. The Call for the Orders of the Day is a question of high privilege, because the matters involved are of special moment, and have been designated, or ordered, by the house for a particular time, that the members may know just when it will be before the house.
Orders of the day are matters the consideration of which has been fixed for some particular day or time. This is done by a motion that the subject be made the "order of the day" for such a time, and the matter so assigned becomes the order of the day for that day or that time. If several subjects are assigned for the same day they are called "orders of the day."
In well-organized bodies there is a general or daily order of business which is usually fixed by the rules, but a special order of the day is made by a motion which fixes the specific time when it is to be taken up.
The usual form of the resolution in Congress is: "That be made the special order for the
and from day to day till the same is disposed of," or
there may be the simpler form: "I move that
When an order is made for the consideration of a subject on a particular day it becomes a privileged question for that day, for the order is a repeal, as to this special matter, of the general rule of business.
As special orders fix a specific time, and suspend the rules that interfere with their consideration at the time specified, it requires a two-thirds vote to make any question a special order.
A special order can be called up when the specified time is reached, even though a committee were reporting, and takes precedence of all business except the reading of the minutes.
When the hour for the order arrives the chairman announces the fact that the order of the day has been reached, or some member calls for the order of the day, and the Chair says the order of the day having been reached, the body will now proceed to consider the question assigned for this time. If there is objection, or one raises the question of consideration, the Chair will say: "Shall the orders of the day be taken up?" or, "Will the body now proceed to the orders of the day?" or, "Will the house now consider it?"
A call for the orders of the day supersedes every other question excepting "to fix the time to which to adjourn," "to adjourn," "questions of privilege," and a "reconsideration." But the motion to entitle it to precedence must be for the orders generally.
A motion to take up a particular part of the “orders of the day" is not a privileged question, and therefore cannot take precedence, as does the call for the "orders of the day."
If the question is decided in the affirmative, the business before the body is interrupted as by an adjournment or postponement, and the order of the day is taken up. If it is decided in the negative, the effect is to discharge the orders only so far as they interfere with the consideration of the matter then before the body, and to entitle that subject to be first disposed of.
Unless the "orders of the day" are taken up on the day specified they fall to the ground, but they may be renewed for some other day. When any subject embraced in the "orders of the day" is taken up, the body, instead of considering it at that time, can assign it, by a majority vote, to some other time.
The "orders of the day" cannot be considered before the time assigned except by a two-thirds vote.
When the "orders of the day" are taken up the questions must be considered in the exact order of their assignment.
"If there were several questions appointed for the day, each would have priority in the order of assignment, and the first one assigned would be the first one to be considered. If an hour is fixed for one of the orders of the day, when that hour arrives the business in which the assembly is engaged is suspended until the business appointed for that hour is disposed of. This is the rule, even if the business pending is itself an order of the day" (Reed's Rules, p. 190).
Questions of Privilege
5. Questions of Privilege. should not be confused with privileged questions in general. There is to be noted an important distinction. A question of privilege is a privileged question, but all privileged questions are not questions of privilege. A question of privilege belongs to the class called privileged questions, and therefore comes under that general head, but all privileged questions are not specifically questions. of privilege. Questions of privilege form a species belonging to the family of privileged questions, and, while they are one kind of privileged question, they have an individuality of their own.
Questions of privilege relate to the rights and privileges. of the body, or of any of its members, and are of many kinds, as, for example, when charges are made against the official character of a member, when the proceedings are disturbed by members or strangers, or when an open window endangers the health or comfort of a member.
The rule of the United States House of Representatives is: "Questions of privilege shall be, first, those affecting the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings; second, the rights, reputation, and conduct of members individually in their representative capacity only; and shall have precedence of all other questions, except motions to adjourn,” which motions include the motions to fix the day to which the House shall adjourn, to adjourn, and to take a recess.
Speaker Reed says: "Examples of breaches of privilege of the first class are disorder in the gallery, surrounding the assembly with soldiers or with a mob, divulging the secrets of the body, tampering with a bill. Examples of the second class are an offer to bribe a member, threats used toward a member by a witness, a duel between members" (Reed's Rules, p. 131).
Questions of privilege “relate to the safety or efficiency of the house itself as an organ for action,” and matters of personal privilege relating to the rights of the individual member.
As between these two classes of questions of privilege there is an order of precedence. As the body itself is more important than the individual member, when the two forms demand attention, the question of privilege that relates to the house as a whole would have the preference over the question that relates merely to the individual member.
Questions of privilege supersede all other questions, excepting the motions to fix the time to which to adjourn, and to adjourn. If the question requires immediate action, it can interrupt a member who has the floor.
A member rising and addressing the Chair says, "I rise to a question of privilege," whereupon the Chair requests the member to state the point, and then the Chair decides whether it is or is not a question of privilege. If the presiding officer is of the opinion that it is a question of privilege he must entertain it in preference to other busi
If the Chair rules that it is not a question of priv
ilege, any member has the right of appeal on this as on any other question. If the ruling stands that it is not a question of privilege, then the business which was before the house proceeds as though no point had been raised. If it is decided to be a question of privilege it is for the body to take such action as it deems wise, and as upon any other question by motion which may be followed by subsidiary motions, and when the matter has been disposed of the body resumes the business which had been interrupted by the introduction of the question.
It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a matter presented is strictly a question of privilege, and in some assemblies great latitude has been taken by members which has been greatly to the inconvenience of these bodies, a waste of time, and an interference with the real business. In not a few instances it would seem that the announcement that the member had a question of privilege simply meant that he wanted to say something about something that interested him. Such persons need instruction as to the nature of the question of privilege and until instructed the Chair and the house should keep them within reasonable bounds.
Mr. William E. Barton says: "It is hard to set definite limits to questions of privilege. A personal explanation is not a question of privilege, though the house may so regard it if it desires, particularly if the explanation be an apology, or offered manifestly in the interests of peace. The right to rise to a question of privilege does not entitle a member with a grievance to interrupt important business with his complainings, nor to indulge in violent language nor tedious harangue. The theory of questions of privilege is that individual rights are so sacred that a member must not suffer by reason of the machinery of the assembly; and therefore in case of real grievance he may be heard briefly and courteously, even when no motion is before the house; or if the case be more urgent, while other business is pending; and if the matter be a wrong through the words of a member who is speaking, then