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and amendment is increased by sending the measure to the Committee of the Whole after the bill has been considered on second reading. In this way the measure is more certainly perfected.
It would be to the interest of ordinary bodies, as well as National and State legislatures, to follow this form of first, second, and third reading with periods between and also wherever practicable with the reference to the committee. It may take more time, but the question of time is of less consequence than the reaching of a safe and sound determination.
PROCEEDINGS IN BICAMERAL BODIES
SOME parliamentary bodies consist of a single house, but many, especially in the most highly developed legislative bodies, consist of two houses, an upper and a lower, or of two chambers, and, so, are Bicameral bodies.
In the British Parliament there are the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The United States Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. In various legislatures there is a Senate and there is an Assembly, the Senate being the upper house and the Assembly being the lower. In the Protestant Episcopal General Convention there are in the same way two bodies, namely, the House of Bishops and the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies.
In a double assembly business may originate in either branch, but a bill passed by one house must go to the other and must be acted upon by the second house before it becomes a law or is rejected. If the second house agrees to the measure in the form in which it was passed by the house which first considered it, it becomes the action of the joint body and is ready for the official signature and whatever else may be necessary to make the bill a law, or the measure a legal enactment.
If, on the other hand, the second branch votes it down, the measure fails, because it requires the concurrence of both houses to make it a legal action. If, however, the second house amends the measure, then it must be sent back to the house where it originated for further consideration, and, particularly, as to whether that house will agree to the changes made in its bill by the other branch of the legislature.
The amended bill having been returned to the branch where the measure originated, the question before that house would be would it concur in the change or changes made by the other house. Agreement or disagreement with the changes would be the subject for consideration. A proper motion would be to concur, or, under some circumstances the motion to non-concur, the one being the reverse of the other. It may be demanded that the motion to concur be put first.
If the house wherein the bill originated concurs with the changes made by the other house, then, both houses having agreed to the same thing, in due process it becomes a law, or an enactment of the legislature as a whole.
If the originating branch refuses to concur, then there is a condition of disagreement between the two houses, and, as long as that continues, the measure is not a legal enactment.
When there is such a disagreement on a measure the house which has the papers, in other words, the one that has refused to concur, may by a message ask the other house for a Conference. This being granted, each house selects its committee or conferees from its own number to present its views on the matter in question, and when these two committees come together they form practically a committee of conference, though each is independent of the other. If the committee from each house numbers three, the usual course is two from the majority side and one from the minority.
These Conference committees seek to acquaint each other with the reasons that have governed their respective houses in the matter over which they differ, and endeavor to reach an agreement by an abandonment of some feature or by some form of compromise. A free Conference is where the conferees are not restricted to the reasons held by their house. but are free to present their own personal views, and this is the kind of conference used by American parliamentary bodies. The Conference committee can sit while both houses are in session,
but at the Conference none but the conferees are entitled
to be present.
The report to be valid must be agreed to by a majority of the conferees from each house. It must be in writing and have the signatures of the above majority, and there must accompany the report a detailed statement informing the house what effect the proposed amendments or other propositions will have upon the measures to which they relate. The report should be made to and acted upon first by the house which had been invited to the conference, and then by the other house. A conference report takes precedence over all other business and "is privileged, even against a motion to adjourn, and may be made at any time except while the journal is being read, the roll called, or the house dividing," in the United States House of Representatives. This privilege exists because there is involved an agreement between the two houses, and, as it is joint business, courtesy between them requires this precedence to facilitate final action.
If an agreement has been reached in conference, and both houses agree to the report, no further conference is needed, for, having passed in the reported form in both houses, the measure is legally adopted. On the other hand, if not agreed to by either house, the measure is lost, unless the question is renewed by a further conference, or by one house receding from its position and concurring with the other.
The report of a conference committee cannot be amended in either house, but must be accepted or rejected just as it comes from the conference. If the conferees agree on some things and disagree upon others, the two branches may ratify the agreements and enter upon another conference as to the rest.
The proper motions in reference ro conference reports are the following: To concur, to non-concur, to recede, to insist, and to adhere, and they have priority in that order. The motion to recede is used when the house having previously non-concurred, upon the matter coming
up again, desires to recede from its former position. When the house has non-concurred in an amendment and determines to stand by that action the proper motion is to insist. When one house wishes the other branch to understand that it will not change its decision, the proper motion is to adhere.
"After both houses have adopted the motion to adhere, the bill is lost. Nevertheless, if one house asks a committee of conference, even after the other house has voted to adhere, it is usual to grant the request" (Reed's Rules, p. 189).
These methods where a legislative body consists of two houses tend to prevent hasty action and ensure safe decisions, and the two houses themselves act as checks upon each other in preventing hasty legislation, as they compel double consideration and give time for reflection, and so they are safer than a single impulsive body.