[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 29. Lay on the Table]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


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                      CHAPTER 29 - LAY ON THE TABLE

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

  Sec. 1. In General; Effect
  Sec. 2. When in Order
  Sec. 3. Precedence
  Sec. 4. Application to Particular Propositions
  Sec. 5. Application to Particular Motions
  Sec. 6. Offering the Motion; Debate and Disposition
  Sec. 7. Collateral Matters Carried to the Table
  Sec. 8. Taking From the Table; Reconsideration
        Research References
          5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5389-5442
          8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2649-2660
          Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9-13
          Manual Sec. Sec. 445, 911, 914

  Sec. 1 . In General; Effect

      The motion to table (or, under the more formal terminology of rule 
  XVI clause 4, to ``lay on the table'') is used to adversely dispose of 
  a proposition pending in the House. Manual Sec. 914; Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. 9.1. The table referred to in rule XVI is the Clerk's table, not 
  the Speaker's table. 5 Hinds Sec. 5389 (note).
      The language ``to lay on the table''--to the extent that it 
  implies that the tabled matter is only temporarily in abeyance--is 
  misleading. The motion is not used simply to put aside a pending 
  matter. The action of the House in adopting the motion to table a 
  proposition is equivalent to a final adverse disposition thereof, and 
  does not merely represent a refusal to consider it. Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. 9.1; 95-2, Aug. 15, 1978, p 26204. In this respect the House 
  practice differs from general parliamentary usage, which permits the 
  use of the motion to temporarily suspend consideration of a matter. 
  Under the modern practice in the House, a tabling action is ordinarily 
  as much a final adverse decision as a negative vote on the passage of 
  a bill. 5 Hinds Sec. 6540 (note). With few exceptions, matters laid on 
  the table may

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  be taken therefrom only by unanimous consent or by a motion to suspend 
  the rules. Sec. 8, infra. The pending proposition being disposed of 
  finally and adversely, the adoption of the motion may have the effect 
  of depriving a Member of his right to debate a proposition he has 
  offered. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.2.
      If the House rejects the motion to table a proposition, the 
  proposition is before the House for disposition. Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. Sec. 9.19, 12.3.


  Sec. 2 . When in Order

      The motion to table is in order only in the House and not in the 
  Committee of the Whole. 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 4719, 4720; 8 Cannon 
  Sec. Sec. 2330, 2556a; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9.29, 9.30. It does 
  not apply to motions to go into the Committee of the Whole. 6 Cannon 
  Sec. 726. It is not applicable to propositions that are not debatable 
  or amendable. Manual Sec. 914.
      A motion to table a proposition is in order after the proposition 
  is called up for consideration but before debate thereon. 95-2, July 
  13, 1978, p 20606; 98-2, Oct. 4, 1984, p 30042. The motion is in order 
  before the Member entitled to prior recognition for debate on the 
  pending proposition has begun his remarks. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5393-
  5395; 6 Cannon Sec. 412; 8 Cannon Sec. 2649. The motion comes too late 
  after the Chair has put the question on the pending proposition and 
  asked for a vote. 96-1, Sept. 20, 1979, p 25512. The motion is in 
  order after the previous question has been moved on the pending 
  proposition but may not be made after the previous question has been 
  ordered or after the yeas and nays have been ordered thereon. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. Sec. 5408, 5415-5422; 8 Cannon Sec. 2655; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.


  Sec. 3 . Precedence

                                 Generally

      Under the rule, the motion to table is preferential. Deschler Ch 
  23 Sec. Sec. 9, 11.2. It yields to the motion to adjourn and to the 
  question of consideration. Manual Sec. 911; 5 Hinds Sec. 4943; 
  Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9. However, it enjoys precedence over the motions 
  for the previous question, to postpone, to refer, or to amend. Rule 
  XVI clause 4; Manual Sec. 911. A motion to table a measure is thus of 
  higher privilege than a motion to refer the measure to a committee. 5 
  Hinds Sec. 5303; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 12.5.

            As Related to the Motion for the Previous Question

      Pending the ordering of the previous question on a proposition 
  that is under debate, the motion to table the proposition is 
  preferential and is voted on first. Manual Sec. 914; Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. Sec. 9.11, 12.1. Although a motion

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  to table is not in order after the previous question has been ordered 
  on a pending proposition, if the previous question is voted down, the 
  motion to table again becomes in order and is preferential. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. Sec. 5415-5422; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9.21, 12.2.


  Sec. 4 . Application to Particular Propositions

                     Generally; Bills and Resolutions

      The motion to table has been held specifically applicable to:

    A House bill. 5 Hinds Sec. 5426.
    A House bill with Senate amendments. 5 Hinds Sec. 6140.
    A vetoed bill. 4 Hinds Sec. 3549.
    A House resolution and an amendment thereto. 5 Hinds Sec. 6139.
    A series of resolutions on a particular subject. 5 Hinds 
         Sec. 6138.
    A privileged resolution. 95-2, July 13, 1978, p 20606.
    A resolution proposing an impeachment or authorizing an 
         impeachment investigation. 6 Cannon Sec. 541; Deschler Ch 23 
         Sec. 9.14.
    A resolution raising a question of the privileges of the House. 
         6 Cannon Sec. 560; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.25.
    A resolution to expel a Member. 94-2, Oct. 1, 1976, p 35111.
    A resolution establishing a select committee. Deschler Ch 23 
         Sec. 9.22.
    A resolution of inquiry adversely reported from committee. 
         Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.17.
    A resolution providing for adjournment sine die. Deschler Ch 23 
         Sec. 9.10.
     An appeal from a decision of the Speaker. 8 Cannon Sec. 3453; 
         Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.3.
     A privileged resolution from a party caucus electing Members 
         to committees. Manual Sec. 914.

                              Special Orders

      Special orders of business reported from the Committee on Rules 
  and called up under rule XIII clause 5 are not subject to the motion 
  to table, as rule XIII clause 6 prohibits dilatory motions. Manual 
  Sec. 857. However, after rejection of the previous question, the 
  motion to table has been applied to a resolution providing a special 
  order. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.23.
      The motion to table may not be applied to a resolution providing a 
  special order if the resolution is before the House under the 
  operation of the discharge rule, because such rule prohibits such 
  intervening motion. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.28.

                            Conference Reports

      In the later practice, the motion to table has not been applied to 
  conference reports on bills in disagreement between the Houses because 
  this

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  would carry the entire bill and amendments of the other House to the 
  table and would leave no opportunity for the House and Senate to have 
  a second conference. Manual Sec. 914; 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 6539, 6540.


  Sec. 5 . Application to Particular Motions

      The motion to table is applicable to debatable secondary motions 
  for the disposal of another matter, such as a motion to refer or a 
  motion to recede and concur in a Senate amendment in disagreement. 
  Manual Sec. 914; 5 Hinds Sec. 5433. The motion has been held 
  specifically applicable to:

    A motion to postpone to a day certain. 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2654, 
         2657.
    A motion to rerefer a bill to a committee. Deschler Ch 23 
         Sec. 9.12.
    A motion to instruct conferees. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9.7, 
         9.8.
    A motion to reconsider a vote. 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2652, 2659; 
         95-2, Apr. 20, 1978, p 10990.

      The motion to table may not be applied to a motion relating to the 
  order of business or to any motion that is neither debatable nor 
  amendable. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9.26, 9.27. The motion is 
  inapplicable to:

    Motions for the previous question. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5410, 
         5411.
    Motions to dispose of measures on which the previous question 
         has been ordered. 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2653, 2655.
    Motions to recommit made after the ordering of the previous 
         question, including a debatable motion to recommit with 
         instructions. Manual Sec. 1002a; 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5412-5414; 8 
         Cannon Sec. Sec. 2653, 2655.
    Motions to dispense with further proceedings under a call of 
         the House. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 9.26, 12.4.
    Motions to go into the Committee of the Whole. 5 Hinds 
         Sec. 5404; 6 Cannon Sec. 726.
    Motions limiting the time for debate. 5 Hinds Sec. 5403.
    Motions to suspend the rules. Manual Sec. 886; 5 Hinds 
         Sec. Sec. 5405, 5406; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.
    Motions that when the House adjourn it stand adjourned until a 
         day and time certain. Manual Sec. 914.
     Motions to adjourn. Manual Sec. 912.

      The motion to table may not be applied to a motion to discharge a 
  committee under rule XV clause 2 unless the proposition before the 
  committee is a vetoed bill or a resolution of inquiry. Manual 
  Sec. 914; 5 Hinds Sec. 5407; 6 Cannon Sec. 415; Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. Sec. 9.15, 9.16.

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  Sec. 6 . Offering the Motion; Debate and Disposition

                             Generally; Debate

      The motion to table, although customarily made orally from the 
  floor, is subject to a timely demand that it be in writing. Deschler 
  Ch 23 Sec. 10.1.

      Member: Mr. Speaker, I move to lay the ________ [proposition] on 
    the table.

      The motion to table is not debatable. Rule XVI clause 4; Manual 
  Sec. 914; 5 Hinds Sec. 5301; 6 Cannon Sec. 412; 8 Cannon Sec. 2465; 
  Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 9.6. However, debate may be permitted by unanimous 
  consent. 98-2, Oct. 4, 1984, p 30042.

                           Disposition of Motion

      It has been established that the motion to table:

    May not be amended. Manual Sec. 914; 5 Hinds Sec. 5754.
    May not be divided for a vote. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 6138-6140.
    May be reconsidered pursuant to motion. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5628, 
         5629, 6288; 8 Cannon Sec. 2785.
    May be repeated after intervening business, but a call of the 
         House alone is not considered sufficient ``intervening 
         business.'' 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5398-5401.

  Sec. 7 . Collateral Matters Carried to the Table

      A bill or other proposition may be carried to the table when the 
  House votes to table a proposal that is closely related thereto. Thus, 
  when a proposed amendment to a pending measure is tabled, the pending 
  measure also goes to the table. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5423, 5424; 8 Cannon 
  Sec. 2656. This rule is applied even where a Senate amendment to a 
  House bill is tabled. 5 Hinds Sec. 5424. The tabling of a bill has 
  been held to result in the tabling of a pending motion to print the 
  bill. 5 Hinds Sec. 5426. The tabling of a proposal, however, will not 
  result in the tabling of a connected matter unless it is directly and 
  intimately related thereto. 8 Cannon Sec. 2658. It has been held, for 
  example, that:

    The tabling of an amendment to the Journal does not carry the 
         Journal to the table. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5435, 5436.
    The tabling of a proposition for adverse disposition of a 
         pending matter does not carry to the table the matter proposed 
         to be disposed of. 8 Cannon Sec. 2660.
    The tabling of a motion to reconsider a vote does not carry 
         with it the proposition voted on. 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2652, 
         2659.
    The tabling of a motion to instruct conferees does not carry 
         with it the bill in disagreement. 8 Cannon Sec. 2658.

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    The tabling of a resolution providing for the final disposition 
         of an impeachment proceeding does not carry with it such 
         proceeding. 6 Cannon Sec. 538.
    The tabling of a preamble does not carry with it accompanying 
         resolutions already agreed to. 5 Hinds Sec. 5430.
    The tabling of a resolution does not take with it a connected 
         resolution already agreed to. 5 Hinds Sec. 5428.
    The tabling of a motion to receive a petition does not carry 
         the petition with it. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5431-5433.
    The tabling of an appeal from a decision of the Speaker on a 
         question of order does not carry with it the matter that was 
         pending when the question of order arose. 5 Hinds Sec. 5434.
    The tabling of a motion to postpone consideration of a Senate 
         amendment does not carry with it pending motions for 
         disposition of the amendment. 8 Cannon Sec. 2657.

      A motion to refer or a motion to recede and concur in a Senate 
  amendment in disagreement may be laid on the table without carrying 
  the pending matter to the table because other motions remain available 
  for disposition of the pending amendment. Manual Sec. 914.


  Sec. 8 . Taking From the Table; Reconsideration

      A matter once laid on the table may be taken therefrom only by 
  suspension of the rules or by unanimous consent unless it is a matter 
  of privilege. Manual Sec. 445; 5 Hinds Sec. 6288; Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. Sec. 13.1, 13.2. Such matters of privilege include questions of 
  privilege (5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5438, 5439), propositions to impeach (3 
  Hinds Sec. 2049), and bills vetoed by the President (5 Hinds 
  Sec. 5439). An affirmative vote on a motion to table may be 
  reconsidered pursuant to a timely motion therefor. 5 Hinds Sec. 5628; 
  8 Cannon Sec. 2785.
      Moreover, a measure that has been tabled by the House may be 
  presented again in similar but not identical form. 4 Hinds Sec. 3385. 
  However, under modern practice, a tabled resolution raising a question 
  of the privileges of the House (even where the motion to reconsider 
  that vote was laid on the table), may be offered again in identical 
  form on a subsequent day if still constituting a question of 
  privilege. Manual Sec. 713.