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R. 49. The hour at which every motion to adjourn is October 9 made shall be entered on the Journal.

R. 50. The previous question shall be in this form : | April 7, “Shall the main question be now put?” [It shall only Febr'y, 24, be admitted when demanded by a majority of the members present;] and its effects shall be to put an end to all | August 5, debate, and bring the House to a direct vote upon a motion to commit, if such motion shall have been made, and if this motion does not prevail, then upon amendments reported by a committee, if any, then [upon pending Jan, 14, amendments, and then upon the main question.] On a Sept. 14, motion for the previous question,* and prior to the seconding of the same, a call of the House shall be in order; but after a majority shall have seconded such



the rising of the Committee of the Whole before 4 o'clock, which was abrogated on the 25th March, 1824.

* The previous question was recognised in the rules established April 7, 1789, and could be demanded by five members, (the parliamentary law places it in the power of two members—one to move, the other to second.) On the 230 December, 1811, it was placed on a footing with the yeas and nays

- that is, at the command of one-fifth of the members present. It remained so until the 24th February, 1812, when the rule was changed to its present form of a majority. According to former practice, the previous question brought the House to a direct vote on the main question that is, to agree to the main proposition, to the exclusion of all amendments and incidental motions; but on the 14th January, 1840, it was changed to its present form -first to embrace pending amendments, and then the main proposition.

The original intent of the previous question was, to ascertain the sense of the House, in the early stages of a subject, as to the propriety of entertaining the matter; and, if decided affirmatively, the debate went on; if decided negatively, the debate ceased, and the subject passed from before the House without motion or further question. This was the practice in Congress under the Confederation; and it is still the practice in the British Parliament. Now, by the practice of the House, as well as by the terms of the rule, it is reversed; if the motion for the previous question be decided in the affirmative, debate ceases, and the House proceeds to vote; if in the negative, the proceedings go on as if the motion for the previous question had not been made.




Dec. 17, 1805.


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motion, no call shall be in order prior to a decision of the

main question.*
Dec. 17, R. 51. On a previous question there shall be no de-
Seget n.5, | bate.t [All incidental questions of order arising after a

motion is made for the previous question, and pending
such motion, shall be decided, whether on appeal or
otherwise, without debate.]

R. 52. When a question is postponed indefinitely, the

same shall not be acted upon again during the session. Sept. 15, R. 53. Any member may call for the division of a

question, which shall be divided if it comprehend propo-
sitions in substance so distinct, that one being taken
away, a substantive proposition shall remain for the de-

cision of the House. (A motion to strike out and insert March 13, shall be deemed indivisible ;] but a motion to strike out

being lost, shall preclude neither amendment nor a mo

tion to strike out and insert. April 7, R. 54. Motions and reports may be committed at the

pleasure of the House.

R. 55. No motion or proposition on a subject different

from that under consideration shall be admitted under Sept. 15, color of amendment. I [No bill or resolution shall, at any

time, be amended by annexing thereto, or incorporating

Dec. 23,




March 13,



* See rules 63 and 64, for mode of proceeding in a call of the House.

+ The rules as established 7th April, 1789, allowed each member to speak once on the previous question—that is, Shall the main question be now put? and so remained until 17th December, 1805, when debate was prohibited ; yet, on the 15th December, 1807, after the previous question had been ordered, the House, on an appeal from the Speaker, reversed his decision, and decided that the main question was open to further debate, 103 to 14-no party vote. This decision was reaffirmed by the House, December 2, 1808 --yeas 101, nays 18.

# This rule was originally established on the 7th April, 1789, and was in these words: “No new motion or proposition shall be admitted, under color of amendment, as a substitute for the motion or proposition under debate.” On the 13th March, 1822, it was changed to its present form, in which the words "new" and “ substitutedo not appear.


therewith, any other bill or resolution pending before the House.* ]

R. 56. When a motion has been once made, and car- Januarz.? ried in the affirmative or negative, it shall be in order for any member of the majority to move for the reconsideration thereof, [on the same or the succeeding day]; and such motion shall take precedence of all other questions,

May 6, except a motion to adjourn,t [and shall not be withdrawn March 2 after the said succeeding day, without the consent of the

Dec. 23, 1811.



* The latter clause of this rule was adopted at the 1st session of the 25th Congress; and, as originally reported by the committee, the following words were contained at the end of it: “nor by any proposition containing THE SUBSTANCE, in whole or in part, of any other bill or resolution pending before the House.These words were stricken out by the House before it

would agree to the rule; by which it would seem to be decided that a bill or resolution might be amended by incorporating therein the su BSTANCE of any other bill or resolution before the House. Such has been the general practice of the House.

† A difference of opinion, and a discrepancy in action, have sometimes occurred in administering this rule. Twenty years ago, and previously, a motion to reconsider could not be made after the subject was disposed of, if there was another subject before the until that subject had passed away; it was then often too late to make the motion. It was under this practice that Mr. Randolph was unable to move a reconsideration of the settlement of the celebrated Missouri question, (notice of which he gave out of time,) as before he could do so the bill had been taken to the Senate. The practice, of late years, has been changed, so as to allow the motion to reconsider to be made at any moment within the prescribed time. If the motion be made when a different subject is before the House, it is entered, and remains until that subject is disposed of, and then“ takes precedence of all other business, except a motion to adjourn.” When any final vote has been taken, and a motion made to reconsider, that motion may be laid on the

in which case, according to the practice of several years past, the vote stands as though the motion to reconsider had not been made. This is correct, as, if the House wished to retain the matter, it would agree to the motion to reconsider, instead of laying it on the table. Motions to reconsider should be promptly acted on, otherwise it is in the power of a single member (voting on the strong side, against his sentiments, solely for the purpose of placing himself in a situation to make the motion) to arrest business, which a majority have determined to despatch.



Nov. 13,




House, and thereafter any member may call it up for

consideration.] Nov. 13, R. 57. When the reading of a paper is called for, and

the same is objected to by any member, it shall be determined by a vote of the House. *

R. 58. The unfinished business in which the House was engaged at the last preceding adjournment shall have the preference in the orders of the day; and no motion on any other business shall be received, without

special leave of the House, until the former is disposed of. April 7,

R. 59. Every order, resolution, or vote, to which the concurrence of the Senate shall be necessary, shall be read to the House, and laid on the table, on a day preceding that in which the same shall be moved, unless the House shall otherwise expressly allow.

R. 60. The name of the member who presents a petition or memorial, or who offers a resolution to the consideration of the House, shall be inserted on the Journals.

R. 61. A proposition requesting information from the President of the United States, or directing it to be furnished by the head of either of the Executive Departments, or by the Postmaster General, or to print an extra number of any document or other matter, excepting messages of the President to both Houses at the commencement of each session of Congress, and the reports and documents connected with or referred to in it, shall lie

on the table one day for consideration, unless otherwise Jan’y 22, | ordered by the unanimous consent of the House ; [and

all such propositions shall be taken up for consideration in the order they were presented, immediately after reports are called for from select committees; and, when adopted, the Clerk shall cause the same to be delivered.]

March 22,


Dec. 13,



* As originally adopted, this rule contained, after the word “for,” the words “which had before been read to the House.” They were stricken out on the 14th December, 1795.


Nov'r 13, 1789, and

Nov'r 13,


R. 62. Upon calls of the House, or in taking the yeas April 7, and nays on any question, the names of the members shall be called alphabetically.

R. 63. Upon the call of the House, the names of the members shall be called over by the Clerk, and the ab- | Dec. 14, sentees noted; after which, the names of the absentees shall again be called over: the doors shall then be shut, and those for whom no excuse or insufficient excuses are made may, by order of those present, if fifteen in number, be taken into custody as they appear, or may be sent for and taken into custody, wherever to be found, by special messengers to be appointed for that purpose.*

R. 64. When a member shall be discharged from custody, and admitted to his seat, the House shall determine whether such discharge shall be with or without paying fees; and, in like manner, whether a delinquent member, taken into custody by a special messenger, shall or shall not be liable to defray the expense of such special messenger.

R. 65. Any fifteen members (including the Speaker, if | April 7, there be one) shall be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members.

R. 66. No member shall absent himself from the ser- April 13, vice of the House, unless he have leave, or be sick, or unable to attend.

R. 67. A Sergeant-at-arms shall be appointed, to hold April 14, his office during the pleasure of the House, whose duty




* The rule as originally established in relation to a call of the House, which was on the 13th of November, 1789, differed from the present rule in this; there was one day's notice to be given, and it required a vote of the House, and 'not fifteen members, to order a member into custody. It was changed to its present form on the 14th December, 1795. On the 7th Jan, uary, 1802, it was changed back to its original form, to require “an order of the House” to take absent members into custody, and so remained until the 230 December, 1811, when it was again changed to what it now ismi. e. fifteen members.

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