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SPECIFIC CLASSIFICATION OF MOTIONS
THERE are six subsidiary, or secondary, Motions as follows: 1. To Amend. 2. To Commit, Refer, or Recommit. 3. To Postpone to a Certain Day. 4. To Postpone Indefinitely. 5. For the Previous Question. 6. To Lay on the Table.
The order of mention may be changed without any difference in effect. It will be seen that all these motions have a direct relation to the primary motion or main question, and, generally, they are intended to modify the form of the main question, or to remove it from the immediate consideration of the body.
Incidental Questions are those which arise incidentally during the progress of the business or while other questions are being considered. It may be, under the principal motion, a subsidiary motion, or some other question.
They are apt to spring up so irregularly that no one can certainly anticipate when an incidental question will be introduced. They may be interjected at almost any moment and in a sense interrupt the ordinary process, and must be considered and decided before the regular business can be resumed.
The following are styled Incidental Questions: 1. Objection to the consideration of a question, or, in other words, The Question of Consideration. 2. Questions of Order (including appeals from the decision of the Chair). 3. Reading of Papers. 4. Withdrawal of a Motion. 5. Suspension of the Rules.
From their very nature they must be decided before the questions which give rise to them. They cannot be amended, and, excepting an appeal, they cannot be
debated, and an appeal is debatable only under circumstances to be stated hereafter.
Privileged Questions are so called because they are conceded special privileges above any other class of motions. Thus they may be presented while other propositions are pending and hold other business in abeyance until they have been considered and settled. Sometimes a privileged question has a certain precedence over other questions by a rule or special order of the assembly, but the privileged questions of general parliamentary practice have their peculiar privileges because of something in their essential nature or because of the rights or necessities of the body itself.
There are four Privileged Questions: 1. To adjourn. 2. To fix the time to which the body shall adjourn. 3. To take a recess. 4. To Call for the Orders of the Day. 5. Questions of Privilege: (a) concerning the body; (b) concerning the individual member. They are undebatable excepting when they relate to the rights of the meeting or its members.
A few parliamentary questions in regard to the classification of which there is some uncertainty or difference of opinion because they do not seem to clearly come under any of the previously presented heads, have been grouped under the less definite title of Miscellaneous Questions. For example, the following questions have been so classed: 1. The Call of the House. 2. Parliamentary Inquiries. 3. To Reconsider. 4. Renewing a Motion. 5. To Fill Blanks. 6. Nominations.
1. Amendments. The most frequently used subsidiary motion is the motion to Amend.
The legitimate purpose of an amendment is to mend or improve the motion or measure to which the amendment is applied. Sometimes, however, the amendment is employed to defeat the purpose of the original mover. Naturally it applies to that which precedes it and cannot stand alone as a separate and independent motion.
The motion to amend may be in several forms: (1) To "add" or "insert"; (2) to "strike out"; (3) to "strike out certain words and insert others"; (4) to "substitute" one motion or resolution for another; (5) to "divide the question" into two or more parts, as the mover specifies, each part to be treated as an independent question in the order in which it stands; and (6) to fill blanks.
The mover, having secured the floor, addresses the Chair and says: "Mr. President, I move to amend"stating exactly what he proposes, whereupon the presiding officer states the question, and the house proceeds to its consideration, the original motion becoming the main question, and the motion to amend being the subsidiary question.
An amendment must be germane; that is to say, it must be akin or closely related to the main question. It must be relevant. In other words, when the main question is on one subject the amendment must not introduce another and foreign issue. It is possible, however, to amend so that the main question may be made to do the very opposite from that which was originally proposed, but the amendment must be on the same subject. Thus, it is allowable to amend a proposition in such a manner as to
entirely alter its nature and directly conflict with the spirit of the original motion and bear a sense very different from that intended by the mover of the original proposition, but it must have a direct bearing upon the subject of that motion. Thus, "thanks" might be stricken out and the word "censure" inserted. Sometimes Legislatures amend a bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting an entirely new bill. Other bodies also amend by striking out all after the word "Resolved," and insert an entirely different phraseology and a proposition of a wholly different tenor, provided the matter proposed to be inserted relates to the same subject as that proposed to be stricken out.
The rule in the United States House of Representatives is: "No motion or proposition on a subject different from that under consideration shall be admitted under color of amendment."
In regard to an amendment which is inconsistent with one already adopted, Cushing, in his Lex Parliamentaria Americana, says: "The inconsistency . . . of a proposed amendment. with an amendment which has already been adopted, though it may be urged as an argument for its rejection by the house, is no ground for the suppression of it by the Speaker as against order."
In support of this he cites Jefferson, Section XXXV, and on this point Jefferson says: "If an amendment be proposed inconsistent with one already agreed to, it is a fit ground for its rejection by the House, but not within the competence of the Speaker to suppress it as if it were against order."
Nevertheless, if the proposed amendment were clearly in opposition to an amendment already adopted, it would seem to be the duty of the Chair to rule against its admissibility on the principle that the house having decided the opposite, it could not overturn itself without a reconsideration. From the decision an appeal could be taken if desired.
In debating an amendment the discussion is on the
amendment and its relation to the main question, but the close relation between the two permits discussion that involves both, so that while the question is on the amendment a skillful debater can discuss both the amendment and the original proposition.
The presiding officer, in putting the question on an amendment, should read, or cause the clerk to read, first, the passage to be amended; then the words to be stricken out, if any; then the words to be inserted, if any; and, finally, the whole resolution as it will stand if the amendment is adopted, and then state the precise question. If the amendment is lost he will announce the result, and then say, "The question now recurs on the resolution"; or, if it is carried, he will say, "The question now recurs on the resolution as amended," for the carrying of the amendment does not imply agreement with the original proposition, and, therefore, strictly speaking, a separate vote is needed upon the resolution as amended.
Before a motion has been stated by the Chair the mover may change it in part, or withdraw it at his pleasure. Even after it has been stated, he is usually allowed to modify it. It has also become common, after an amendment has been moved and seconded, for the mover of the original motion to accept the amendment, and modify his motion accordingly. Both of these practices involve the principle of withdrawal of a motion and the substitution of another, so that there should be, according to the old method, permission granted, but, by recent practice, the mover may withdraw or modify at any time before decision or amendment. The member can move to amend his own motion even under the old principle.
While a main question is under consideration, and an amendment has been moved, it is allowable to move another amendment, not to the main question, however, but to the pending amendment to the main question, for it is a general principle that only one motion at a time can bear upon another motion. This second amendment is called an amendment to the amendment, and some