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times it is termed an amendment in the second degree. A motion may be made to amend an amendment, but this is the limit; there cannot be an amendment to an "amendment to an amendment." Like the amendment to the main question, the amendment to the amendment must be germane, and the same principle of debate applies to it as to a simple amendment.
The vote is first on the amendment to the amendment. If this prevails, then on the amendment as amended. If this prevails, then the final vote is on the original motion as amended. The carrying of the amendment to the amendment does not imply concurrence in the amendment, and agreement with the amendment to the amendment does not carry the main question as thus amended; so, after voting on the amendment to the amendment, and the amendment as thus amended, it is necessary to take a final vote on the main question as thus amended.
If the amendment to the amendment is lost, then the vote is on the amendment; and, if the amendment is lost, then the vote is on the original proposition.
It is possible when an amendment to the amendment has been voted upon to offer another amendment to the amendment until the house is satisfied with or finally accepts the amendment to the amendment as amended, or not amended; and when all the amendments have been disposed of it is possible to begin over again the process of amendment until the house is satisfied and the members are satisfied that the process has gone far enough.
It is also permissible to have a Substitute for the main question or original motion. A substitute is of the nature of an amendment, but is more extensive and comprehensive than an ordinary amendment. Thus the motion might be to substitute one resolution for another. To substitute is to put one thing in the place of another. The substitute is the thing substituted or proposed to be substituted. The substitution is the act of substituting.
A parliamentary substitute may be offered before any ordinary amendment has been presented, but it is also
allowable to have pending an amendment and an amendment to an amendment, and then to have a substitute. It is not good form to move a substitute "for all that is before the house," for a substitute is for the main question or original proposition. So, when a member arises and says, "I move the following substitute," the meaning is that he moves his substitute to take the place of the main question, and not "for all that is before the house."
It is also possible to have one amendment moved to the substitute, but there can be no amendment to an amendment to a substitute. Only one amendment to a substitute can be entertained at the same time. Thus there might be pending at the same time the main question, or original proposition, an amendment to that and an amendment to the amendment, and then a substitute followed by one amendment to the substitute, making five questions or motions at one time bearing upon the same thing.
A faulty and unphilosophical practice in some minor bodies has been to begin the voting on the substitute or the amendment to the substitute and to ignore the amendments to the main question. This is bad practice and will be avoided by all those who understand the philosophy of sound parliamentary practice. The proper procedure is very different. In such a case, where there is a substitute and amendments to the main question and one amendment to the substitute before the house, the parliamentary course is to pass upon the respective amendments and reduce the propositions to two, namely, the Main Question and the substitute therefor. In doing this the first vote is not upon the amendment to the substitute, but upon the amendment or amendments proposed to the original proposition, or main question, so as to clear them away, and then the vote is upon the amendment to the substitute, so that there remain the main question and the substitute for the main question, and the latter is placed against the former.
Then the first vote is upon the question of substitution; and if the substitute is agreed to, it acts like an amend
ment and takes the place of the former main question, and the final vote is upon the adoption of the main question as thus substituted. The principle is to perfect the main question and the substitute by clearing away the amendments to the main question and the substitute so as to bring one proposition squarely against the other.
The process begins with the amendments to the main question, because they were first moved and because when the main question is perfected the house may or may not want the substitute. The rule as stated in the Digest of the United States House of Representatives is as follows: "It has been for many years the practice of the House that there might be pending, at the same time with such amendment to the amendment, an amendment in the nature of a substitute for part or the whole of the original text, and an amendment to that amendment. . . . So that, notwithstanding the pendency of a motion to amend an amendment to the original matter, a motion to amend, in the nature of a substitute, and a motion to amend that amendment, were received, but could not be voted on until the original matter was perfected."
This may seem at first sight to be out of harmony with the rule, Last made, first put, but a little thought will Ishow that it is not. The substitute is later than the main question and is voted on before the main question, and the amendments are later than the propositions on which they bear. There are two alternative propositions. From them the amendments are cleared away, and then the vote is on the substitute which came later than the original motion, and, finally, the vote is on the main question, which was first made.
When a substitute is pending, other amendments to the main question cannot be presented until the substitute has been acted upon.
2. Commitment. The motion to Commit (or Recommit) is intended to take the subject from the main body and transfer it to the consideration of a smaller number, or to the whole number acting under broader privileges
than those of the formal body. The legitimate object of a committal is that the subject may be studied outside of the regular meetings of the body, and that as a result of such inquiry recommendations may be matured and reported to the body. Usually, it is a labor-saving device for the public body, and the committee is to prepare the matter for the consideration of the house.
The form of the motion is that the matter be referred to a committee, naming the committee, or "Mr. President, I move that the (matter, motion, or whatever the proposition may be) be referred to a committee" (indicating the character of the committee).
The motion to commit may be made as soon as the matter is introduced or after there has been discussion, amendment, or other stage in the consideration has been reached.
The motion to commit is amendable and may be amended by changing the committee as to kind or numbers, or by giving it instructions. If more than one kind of committee is suggested, then the vote will be, first, on the committee of the whole; second, on a standing committee; and, third, on a special (or select) committee.
Common parliamentary law makes a motion to commit debatable, and under it permits discussion on the merits of the main question. This is on the principle that it is well to let the committee know the views of the body, and, further, because of the risks the matter runs in being referred to a committee which may delay its report. Then the question of reference involves the consideration of the matter which it is proposed to refer, and so the motion to commit opens up, and permits debate upon, the entire merits of the question which may be committed.
Writing on the motion to commit or refer, H. M. Robert says, "It is debatable, and opens to debate the merits of the question it is proposed to commit" (Rules of Order, pp. 63, 64). Again, General Robert says of the motion to commit: "It is often important that the committee should know the views of the assembly on the
question, and it therefore is not only debatable, but opens to debate the whole question which it is proposed to refer to the committee" (Rules of Order, p. 104). Even if a technical rule limited the debate within narrow limits to the mere matter of reference, it would not be difficult for a debater to bring in the merits of the whole question involved as a reason why or why not the matter should or should not be referred to a particular committee or to no committee at all.
The motion to recommit is the same as to commit, only that it refers to a matter which has already been reported by a committee. The form of a recommitment is similar to a commitment. The effect of the adoption of the motion to commit, if decided affirmatively, is to end the consideration of the matter in the body, and to pass it over to the designated committee. If it is decided negatively, the question remains with the house for consideration or for disposal in some other way. If the motion to refer to a committee prevails, and the committee is not then in existence, the Chair may say, "How shall the committee be appointed?" The house may designate, or the house may cry "The Chair!" Then the Chair may ask, "Of how many shall the committee consist?" If only one number is suggested, that will be the number. If two or more numbers are mentioned, the Chair will put the matter to vote, beginning with the higher or highest number.
3. To Postpone to a Day Certain. The motion to Postpone to a Day Certain, or to a certain time, is used when the assembly is not prepared at the present to consider and decide the matter, but wishes to have a definite and well-understood time when it will be considered.
The motion to postpone to a certain day, or to a certain time, is intended to postpone the entire subject to the time specified. If carried, the matter cannot be taken up before that time except by a two-thirds vote, but when the time is reached the subject is entitled to be taken up in preference to everything except privileged questions.