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rectifies a former action by a new act. In the United States, however, reconsideration is a part of the common parliamentary law.
The reconsideration is of the vote that decided the matter in question, and the object of the motion to reconsider is to bring back to the consideration of the body a question that has been decided, but divested of its deciding vote, and to place it before the house just as it stood before the vote upon it had been taken.
The form of the motion is simple. The member may say, "I move to reconsider the action upon (naming the particular matter); or, "I move that the house reconsider the vote upon
-"; or, that "the The motion is made
Not every member can make the motion to reconsider. It can be made only by a member who voted on the prevailing side when the final vote was taken. Sometimes it has been said the mover must have voted with the majority, but the prevailing side is often a minority. For example, the measure may have been lost by a tie vote. In that case there is no majority on either side, but the prevailing side was the negative, and it would be necessary for the mover to come from the negative side, though it did not have a majority of the voters. Or, if the vote was a count vote requiring a certain proportion, as, for example, two thirds, to carry a measure, and the proposition was lost because of failure to receive the necessary two thirds, then the mover may come from a minority. Thus, if the measure received one less than two thirds, and the negative one more than one third, the proposition would be defeated, and the mover must come from the minority of one third plus one, for that was the prevailing side. If the vote was not by yeas and nays, the Chair may ask the member who proposes to make the motion to reconsider whether he voted with the prevailing party. The principle of requiring the motion from the side that had prevailed is just, for it would be useless for the house to take
time for a reconsideration, if no change of mind had occurred among those who had determined the decision when the former vote was taken.
When the motion to reconsider may be made is a matter that demands careful study. To make it possible to introduce this motion at any time, no matter how remote the period, would cause excessive uncertainty and would throw the work of the body into confusion. Something must be supposed to be settled, and hence there should be a limit on the time when a reconsideration may be moved, and this should not be a long time after the final vote had been taken on the measure. The reconsideration, if taken at all, should be taken soon, for if reasons for the reconsideration are not discovered soon they are not likely to exist. There should be a reasonable time, but it should have a limit, and, after this reasonable period, if the act is not satisfactory, it may be annulled by a motion to rescind or repeal.
Each body should have a special rule determining the period within which the motion to reconsider might be made, but where there is no special rule to regulate the matter the members should insist on the principle of promptitude.
In the United States House of Representatives the rule is: "When a motion has been made and carried or lost, it shall be in order for any member of the majority ['construed to mean any member of the prevailing side'], on the same or succeeding day, to move for the reconsideration thereof." Speaker Reed says, "A motion to reconsider must be made on the day on which the action sought to be revised was had and before any action has been taken by the assembly in consequence of it" (Reed's Rules, p. 151).
The common rule is that the motion to reconsider must be made on the same day that the question was decided, or upon the succeeding day, but the motion to reconsider need not be acted upon that day. The time when the motion must be made should be specified in the rules of
every society. If there is no special rule, "a motion to reconsider may be made," as Cushing states, “at any time" "precisely like any other motion, and subject to no other rules" (Cushing: Lex Parliamentaria Americana, p. 506).
When the motion to reconsider properly applies to a vote it can be made during the day on which the said vote was taken, when any other business is before the house, even when another member has the floor, or the meeting is voting on the motion to adjourn, but action on the motion cannot be taken to interfere with current business, but must be deferred until the business then before the house is disposed of.
It has been decided in the United States House of Representatives that "It is in order at any time, even when a member is on the floor, or the highest privileged question is pending, on the same or succeeding day, to move a reconsideration and have it entered, but it cannot be taken up and considered while another question is before the House."
In such a case the motion is made and seconded and entered upon the minutes, then the business before the house proceeds, and the motion to reconsider is held over to be called up at any time before the close of the session. As soon as the subject interrupted has been disposed of, the reconsideration, if called up, takes precedence of all other motions except to adjourn or to fix the time to which to adjourn, and the consideration of a Conference report.
A motion to reconsider may be applied to most questions, but there are some important exceptions. When the motion is applied to a vote on a subsidiary motion it takes precedence of the main question. It yields to incidental motions and all privileged questions, except for the orders of the day. A motion to reconsider may be laid on the table.
In the United States House of Representatives it has been decided that: "A vote to lay the motion to recon
sider on the table does not carry with it the pending measure." "A motion to reconsider the vote ordering the yeas and nays is in order, and the vote may be reconsidered by a majority." "A negative vote on a motion to lie on the table may be considered."
When the motion to reconsider cannot be made: The motion to reconsider can be applied to votes on all other questions, excepting on motions to adjourn and to suspend the rules, and affirmative votes on motions to lay on the table or to take from the table.
A question cannot be reconsidered more than once. When, as the result of a vote, anything the body cannot reverse has been done, that vote cannot be reconsidered. It cannot be after the thing voted has been executed. One of the rules of the United States Senate is that no motion to reconsider a matter that has gone out of the possession of the Senate shall be in order. On the same principle, when the matter proposed to be reconsidered has passed from the control of the meeting, the motion to reconsider should not be received. When the previous question has been partly executed it cannot be reconsidered.
The following decisions in the United States House of Representatives are suggestive: "Where a vote ordering the yeas and nays is reconsidered, and the yeas and nays are again ordered, a further motion. to reconsider that vote is not in order." "A motion to reconsider a vote laying a motion to reconsider on the table is not in order." "A motion to reconsider a vote by which the House refused to adjourn is not in order." "Nor can a vote on a motion to suspend the rules be reconsidered." "A vote on the reconsideration of a vetoed bill cannot be reconsidered." "It is not in order to move a reconsideration of a vote sustaining a decision of the Chair after subsequent action has resulted from such decision which it is impossible for the House to reverse." "Where a motion to reconsider has once been put and decided it is not in order to repeat the motion. But it is otherwise where an
amendment has been adopted since the first reconsideration." Having been amended it becomes a different
A vote on an amendment, whether carried or lost, which has been followed by a vote on the motion to which the amendment was proposed, cannot be reconsidered until after the vote on the original motion has been reconsidered.
Generally speaking, the motion to reconsider is debatable, for reasons must be shown why the matter should be considered again, but it is debatable or not just as the question proposed to be reconsidered is debatable or undebatable. So it has been decided that "A motion to reconsider is not debatable, if the question proposed to be reconsidered was not debatable." But the fact of a question having been decided under the operation of the previous question does not prevent debate on the motion to reconsider, if the original question was otherwise debatable" (Digest of the United States House of Representatives). If the motion to reconsider is debatable, then it opens up for debate the entire subject which it is proposed to consider.
The motion to reconsider cannot be amended. If the previous question is ordered while this motion is pending it affects only the motion to reconsider. The motion to reconsider can be laid on the table, and, in such instances, the last motion cannot be reconsidered. If laid on the table, the reconsideration can, like any other motion, be taken from the table, but possesses no privilege. When the motion to reconsider is laid on the table it does not carry with it the pending measure.
Frequently this plan of laying the motion on the table is resorted to by the friends, or, it may be, by the foes, of a measure to prevent its reconsideration.
In some bodies sometimes both these motions are combined, but then they must be acted upon separately. As a matter of good taste and propriety this, however, may be deemed as doubtful as for a person to present a propo