[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 32. Motions]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


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                           CHAPTER 32 - MOTIONS

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

  Sec. 1. In General
  Sec. 2. Form; Reading of Motion
  Sec. 3. Recognition to Offer
  Sec. 4. Dilatory Motions
  Sec. 5. Withdrawal; Reoffering
        Research References
          5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5300-5358
          8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2609-2640
          Deschler Ch 23
          Manual Sec. Sec. 460, 902-905, 949


  Sec. 1 . In General

      Most motions that are used in the practice of the House are 
  specifically provided for by House rule. They are governed by separate 
  procedural requirements, serve different purposes, and are treated 
  under separate titles elsewhere in this work, such as Adjournment; Lay 
  on the Table; Postponement; Previous Question; Reconsideration; Refer 
  and Recommit; and Suspension of Rules.
      Motions must also conform to certain common procedural 
  requirements; for example, a Member offering a motion must rise to his 
  feet and address the Chair. Sec. 3, infra. Although recognition for a 
  motion is always at the discretion of the Speaker, he will ordinarily 
  be bound to entertain any motion that is in order under the rules of 
  the House and in accordance with its parliamentary practices. 4 Hinds 
  Sec. 3550; see also Recognition. Where a motion not in order under the 
  rules of the House is, by unanimous consent, considered and agreed to, 
  it controls the procedure of the House until carried out, unless the 
  House takes affirmative action to the contrary. Deschler Ch 23 
  Sec. 1.1.


  Sec. 2 . Form; Reading of Motion

      Under rule XVI clause 1, a motion entertained in the House or in 
  the Committee of the Whole must be reduced to writing if demanded by a 
  Member. If offered in the House, the motion is entered on the Journal 
  unless withdrawn on the same day. Manual Sec. 902. Not every motion is 
  in writing

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  when proposed. When a point of order is raised, the Chair may give the 
  proponent an opportunity to reduce the motion to writing before 
  putting the question thereon. Manual Sec. 902.
      Rule XVI clause 2 requires that a motion be stated by the Speaker 
  or read by the Clerk before it can be debated. Manual Sec. 904; 5 
  Hinds Sec. 4938. The Clerk's reading may be dispensed with only by 
  unanimous consent. Manual Sec. 904.
      Where there is a misunderstanding about the wording of a pending 
  motion, the Chair may restate the motion. However, it is not in order 
  to ask that the motion be rereported by the Clerk except by unanimous 
  consent. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. Sec. 2.4, 2.5. If there is doubt, the 
  motion voted on is the motion as stated by the Chair in putting the 
  question and not as stated by the Member in offering the motion. 
  Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 2.3.


  Sec. 3 . Recognition to Offer

      A Member may not make a motion without rising and addressing the 
  Chair. Manual Sec. Sec. 394, 945. A Member desiring to offer a motion 
  must actively seek recognition from the Chair before another motion to 
  dispose of the pending question has been adopted. Rule XVII clause 2 
  states: ``When two or more Members, Delegates, or the Resident 
  Commissioner rise at once, the Speaker shall name the Member, 
  Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who is first to speak. . . .'' 
  Manual Sec. 949.
      A motion is not pending until the Chair has recognized its 
  proponent thereon. For this reason, the Speaker often asks ``For what 
  purpose does the gentleman rise?'' when a Member seeks recognition. By 
  this question he determines whether the Member proposes a motion that 
  is entitled to precedence, and he may deny recognition. Manual 
  Sec. 953; 2 Hinds Sec. 1464; 6 Cannon Sec. Sec. 289-291, 293. As a 
  proper exercise of the Speaker's discretion, there is no appeal from 
  such denial. Manual Sec. 953; 2 Hinds Sec. 1464; 6 Cannon Sec. 292; 8 
  Cannon Sec. Sec. 2429, 2646, 2762.
      In certain rules the Chair's discretion in recognition is 
  explicitly stated. In rule XX clause 7(b), the Speaker may recognize a 
  Member to move a call of the House at any time; and further 
  proceedings under a call are considered as dispensed with ``unless the 
  Speaker recognizes for a motion'' to compel attendance of absentees. 
  In rule XVI clause 4, the motion that the Speaker be authorized to 
  declare a recess or the motion to set the day's adjournment to a day 
  and time certain is entertained ``in his discretion.'' Other motions 
  in rule XVI are given a precedence under the rules that the Chair must 
  acknowledge.

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      The Member in charge of the pending bill is entitled at all stages 
  to prior recognition for allowable motions intended to expedite the 
  bill. 2 Hinds Sec. 1457; 6 Cannon Sec. 300. However, the fact that a 
  Member has the floor on one matter does not necessarily entitle him to 
  prior recognition on a motion relating to another matter. 2 Hinds 
  Sec. 1464. Except when a Member in charge of a measure occupies the 
  floor in debate, such Member must yield to Members proposing 
  preferential motions. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5391-5395. Ordinarily, when an 
  essential motion made by the Member in charge is decided adversely, 
  the right to prior recognition passes to the Member leading the 
  opposition to the motion. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 1.2; see also 
  Recognition. As to precedence among particular motions, see motions 
  listed in Sec. 1, supra.


  Sec. 4 . Dilatory Motions

      Rule XVI clause 1, which was adopted in 1890, states that ``[n]o 
  dilatory motion shall be entertained by the Speaker.'' Manual 
  Sec. 902. The Speaker may decline to entertain the motion on his own 
  initiative or on a point of order from the floor. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. Sec. 5715-5722.
      Hinds has said that a motion must be made manifestly for delay in 
  order to justify its rejection as dilatory. 5 Hinds Sec. 5714. Yet the 
  determination of whether a motion is dilatory is entirely within the 
  discretion of the Chair. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 4.1. Indeed, the Speaker 
  determines a question of dilatoriness not necessarily by the length of 
  time at issue or the character of the underlying business. Rather, the 
  Speaker determines whether under the circumstances the motion is made 
  with intent to delay the business of the House. 8 Cannon Sec. 2804.
      The Speaker may decline to entertain debate or an appeal on a 
  question as to the dilatoriness of a motion if to do so would defeat 
  the object of the rule. 5 Hinds Sec. 5731. For discussion of dilatory 
  motions pending consideration of a report from the Committee on Rules, 
  see Manual Sec. 857. For the rule prohibiting offering of dilatory 
  amendments printed in the Congressional Record, see Manual 
  Sec. Sec. 857, 858.


  Sec. 5 . Withdrawal; Reoffering

                                 Generally

      A motion having been made, rule XVI clause 2 places it in the 
  possession of the House but permits its withdrawal at ``any time 
  before a decision or amendment thereon.'' Manual Sec. 904. This rule 
  is interpreted to mean that a motion may be withdrawn in the House as 
  a matter of right unless the House has taken some action thereon, such 
  as a motion for the previous question or the ordering of the previous 
  question. Manual Sec. 905; 5 Hinds

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  Sec. Sec. 5355, 5489; Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 1. The House does not vote 
  on the withdrawal of the motion, if timely. Manual Sec. 460. Unanimous 
  consent is not required if withdrawal occurs before a decision is made 
  on the motion as offered or there is an amendment thereof. Deschler Ch 
  23 Sec. 2.7.
      A motion may be withdrawn although an amendment may have been 
  offered to the motion and be pending. 5 Hinds Sec. 5347; 8 Cannon 
  Sec. 2639. A motion may be withdrawn before action thereon even though 
  it is under consideration as unfinished business postponed from the 
  preceding day. 95-1, June 17, 1977, p 19693.
      Action by the House that will preclude withdrawal of a motion 
  includes the ordering of the yeas and nays on the motion. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. 5353. Unanimous consent to withdraw the motion is required where 
  the yeas and nays have been ordered. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 2.9. However, 
  a motion may be withdrawn after a voice and a division vote thereon 
  where the Chair has not announced the result and where another type of 
  vote might be had on the motion. The Chair may decline to permit a 
  withdrawal while he is counting a vote. Manual Sec. 905; 96-1, Nov. 
  13, 1979, p 32185.

                    Modification of Motion; Reoffering

      A Member having the right to withdraw a motion before a decision 
  thereon has the resulting power to modify the motion (as by 
  withdrawing and offering a modified form). 5 Hinds Sec. 5358. However, 
  the proponent does not necessarily have the right to reoffer the 
  motion, especially where it is a secondary motion under rule XVI 
  clause 4; such motions may properly be offered only at the times 
  designated by the rule. Deschler Ch 23 Sec. 1.
      Withdrawal of particular motions and withdrawal of amendments, see 
  Amendments and Withdrawal.