[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 50. Rules and Precedents of the House]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


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               CHAPTER 50 - RULES AND PRECEDENTS OF THE HOUSE

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

  Sec. 1. In General
  Sec. 2. Binding Effect
  Sec. 3. Construction
  Sec. 4. Changing or Waiving Rules
        Research References
          U.S. Const. art. I, Sec. 5
          8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 3376-3396
          Deschler, Preface; Ch 5 Sec. Sec. 1-7
          Manual Sec. Sec. 58-61a, 283-286, 387, 388, 686, 1130

  Sec. 1 . In General

                             Adoption of Rules

      The Constitution empowers each House to determine the rules of its 
  proceedings. U.S. Const. art. I Sec. 5; Manual Sec. 58. The House may 
  not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate 
  fundamental rights, and there should be a reasonable relation between 
  the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the 
  result that is sought. However, within these limitations, the House is 
  free to adopt such rules as it sees fit. Yellin v. United States, 374 
  U.S. 109 (1963).
      It is customary for the House at the beginning of each Congress to 
  adopt the rules by which it is to be governed during its meetings. In 
  so doing, the House ordinarily will adopt the rules applicable in the 
  previous Congress with such amendments as it considers necessary. 
  Deschler Ch 1 Sec. 10.5. Such rules are adopted or amended pursuant to 
  a simple resolution that is called up as privileged and debated under 
  principles of ``general parliamentary law.'' See Assembly of Congress. 
  Changes in the rules from the prior Congress normally emanate from the 
  conference or caucus of the party that commands a majority and thus 
  has the responsibility for organizing the House.
      Even before adoption of rules, it is in order to consider as 
  privileged a resolution in the nature of a special order that makes in 
  order the subsequent consideration of a resolution adopting the rules 
  for the newly organized House. Manual Sec. 60; 5 Hinds 5450.

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      When a member of the majority party offers a resolution providing 
  rules for the new Congress:

     The resolution is debatable for one hour.
     The resolution is not subject to amendment unless the previous 
         question is rejected or the manager of the resolution yields 
         for an amendment. Deschler Ch 1 Sec. 10.9.
     A motion to refer (with instructions) is in order before 
         debate begins, but this motion is subject to being laid on the 
         table. Manual Sec. 60.
     A motion to commit is in order pending or following the 
         ordering of the previous question, which is the prerogative of 
         the minority but the proponent need not qualify as opposed to 
         the motion; and it is not debatable. Manual Sec. 60; 5 Hinds 
         Sec. 5604.
     A majority vote is required to adopt a resolution adopting 
         rules for a new Congress.

      The right of the House to determine the rules of its proceedings 
  may not be impaired by repetition of dilatory motions. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. 5707.

                                Publication

      The standing rules of the House are published each Congress in the 
  House Rules and Manual pursuant to resolution. Manual, p iii. This 
  comprehensive volume also includes, among other pertinent material, 
  portions of Jefferson's Manual, which was prepared by Thomas Jefferson 
  for his own guidance while he was President of the Senate from 1797 to 
  1801. Under rule XXVIII clause 1, the principles recorded in 
  Jefferson's Manual govern the proceedings of the House where the 
  principles are applicable and not inconsistent with the standing rules 
  and orders of the House. Manual Sec. 1104.

                      Statutory Rules and Joint Rules

      In some cases, Congress has enacted statutes setting forth rules 
  and procedures to be followed when the House considers certain kinds 
  of legislation, for example, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
  Control Act of 1974. Such statutes are enacted as an exercise of the 
  rule-making power of Congress, are reincorporated by reference in the 
  preface of the resolution adopting the rules of each House, and are 
  carried in the House Rules and Manual. Manual Sec. Sec. 1127-1130; 
  Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 3.
      Joint rules, although in common use until 1876, are rarely used 
  today except to govern a joint session to count electoral votes. 
  Manual Sec. 220; Deschler Ch 10 Sec. 2.6.

                    Rules Based on Precedent or Custom

      As Asher Hinds noted in his work on the precedents of the House, 
  much of what is known as parliamentary law is not part of the formal 
  writ

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  ten rules of the House but springs from precedent or long-standing 
  custom. 1 Hinds, Introduction, p iii. Such precedent may be invoked to 
  resolve a procedural question in the absence of an express written 
  rule on the subject. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 3; see also 6 Cannon, Preface, 
  p v; Deschler, Preface, pp iii-xiv. More frequently, the precedents of 
  the House are used to show the scope and application of one of its 
  formal rules. A noteworthy example is the House germaneness rule, 
  which is set forth in less than a sentence in rule XVI clause 7, yet 
  has been interpreted through thousands of precedents since its 
  adoption in 1789. Manual Sec. Sec. 928-940; Deschler-Brown Ch 28.
      The precedents of the House, which are based primarily on the 
  rulings of the Speaker or Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, are 
  compiled in Hinds' Precedents (1907), Cannon's Precedents (1936), 
  Deschler's Precedents (1977) and Deschler-Brown Precedents. Deschler-
  Brown Precedents, which is currently being compiled, is authorized by 
  section 28b of title 2, United States Code.


  Sec. 2 . Binding Effect

      Parliamentary law--a term that encompasses both formal rules and 
  usages--has come to be recognized as binding on the assembly and its 
  members, except as it may be varied by the adoption by the membership 
  of special rules or through some other authorized procedural device. 
  Landes v. State ex rel Matson, 67 NE 189 (Ind. 1903).
      On the theory that a government of laws is preferable to a 
  government of men, the House has repeatedly recognized the importance 
  of following its precedents and obeying its well-established 
  procedural rules. See, e.g., 2 Hinds Sec. 1317. The House adheres to 
  settled rulings, and will not lightly disturb procedures that have 
  been established by prior decision of the Chair. Deschler, Preface, p 
  vi. However, the Speaker or Chairman may refuse to follow a precedent 
  even though it is relevant to a pending question, where it is the only 
  precedent on the point and was not carefully reasoned. 6 Cannon 
  Sec. 48.


  Sec. 3 . Construction

      When a timely point of order is raised, it is the duty of the 
  Chair, to determine whether language in a pending bill or amendment 
  conforms to the rules of the House, although the Chair may properly 
  decline to do so where points of order against the provisions have 
  been waived by special rule. Deschler Ch 21 Sec. 23.3. In construing a 
  rule, the Speaker may look beyond its terms and consider all the facts 
  and circumstances in order to determine the intention of the House in 
  adopting the rule. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 6.3. In con

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  struing the rules, the Chair may be guided by the general principle 
  that the object of a parliamentary body is action, and not stoppage of 
  action. Manual Sec. 902.
      The absence of a formal rule governing a particular procedure does 
  not necessarily mean that the procedure is permitted. Indeed, acts or 
  proceedings not expressly authorized by the rules may be deemed 
  inconsistent with, or in violation of, the rules. Deschler Ch 5 
  Sec. 6.4.
      Where two rules of the House are in irreconcilable conflict, the 
  one adopted later controls. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 6.1. Similarly, where 
  the rules of the House and a subsequent legislative enactment are not 
  consistent, the enactment must prevail. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 6.2. 
  Similarly, a rule adopted after an enactment may supersede those 
  provisions of the statute that would otherwise govern House procedure. 
  Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 6.


  Sec. 4 . Changing or Waiving Rules

                                 Generally

      Pursuant to its authority under article I, section 5 of the 
  Constitution, the House may change or waive the rules governing its 
  proceedings. This is so even with respect to rules enacted by statute. 
  Manual Sec. 857. Once the rules have been adopted at the convening of 
  the House in a new Congress, further amendments to the rules are 
  generally implemented by resolution reported from the Committee on 
  Rules. A rule may in effect be suspended or modified through the use 
  of certain procedural devices, such as a unanimous-consent request. 
  Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.
      A motion to amend the rules of the House does not present a 
  question of ``constitutional'' privilege. 8 Cannon Sec. 3377. A 
  question of the privileges of the House may not be invoked to effect a 
  change in the rules of the House or their interpretation. Manual 
  Sec. 706; generally, see Questions of Privilege.
      The effect of a proposed change in the rules or a proposed special 
  order of business is a matter for debate and not within the 
  jurisdiction of the Chair to decide on a parliamentary inquiry during 
  its pendency. Manual Sec. 628; Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.12.
      For the motion to suspend the rules, see Suspension of Rules.

                               By Resolution

      Amendments to the rules are generally offered in the form of a 
  privileged resolution reported and called up by the Committee on 
  Rules. Such a resolution may not be amended unless the Member in 
  charge yields for that purpose or the previous question is voted down. 
  Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.8.

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   The resolution may be considered in the Committee of the Whole 
  pursuant to the terms of a special order reported from the Committee 
  on Rules. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.6.
      Although a resolution from the Committee on Rules to amend a House 
  rule is privileged, a resolution offered from the floor to amend a 
  House rule is not privileged for consideration as against a demand 
  that business proceed in the regular order. 8 Cannon Sec. 3377; 
  Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.1.
      Rule XV clause 2, the discharge rule, has also been used to bring 
  a proposed rules change before the House. Manual Sec. 892.

                           By Unanimous Consent

      Minor changes in the standing rules may be considered by unanimous 
  consent. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 5.2. The House may by unanimous consent 
  waive the requirements of a particular rule unless the rule itself 
  provides that it is not subject to waiver even by unanimous consent. 
  See, e.g., rule XVII clause 7.

                             By Special Order

      The House may adopt a special rule from the Committee on Rules 
  that has the effect of setting aside the standing rules of the House 
  insofar as they impede the consideration of a particular bill. 
  Deschler Ch 21 Sec. 19.7. The special rule may waive one or more--or 
  indeed all--points of order against consideration of a particular bill 
  or against provisions therein. For example, the special order may 
  waive points of order that could otherwise be raised against 
  legislative provisions in an appropriation bill, points of order based 
  on the germaneness requirement, or points of order based on the 
  Ramseyer rule. Deschler Ch 5 Sec. 7. A rule that waives a point of 
  order under section 425 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 
  (unfunded intergovernmental mandates) is itself subject to a point of 
  order under section 426 of that Act.
      A special rule that ``self-executes'' the adoption of an amendment 
  is not subject to a point of order that the amendment would otherwise 
  be subject to because the amendment is not separately before the House 
  during consideration of the special order. For example, a special rule 
  has been held not subject to points of order for ``self-executing'' an 
  amendment that violated rule XVI clause 7 (germaneness) (Manual 
  Sec. 928), rule XXI clause 2 (legislation on an appropriation bill) 
  (Manual Sec. 1044), and rule XXI clause 4 (appropriation on a 
  legislative bill) (Manual Sec. 1065).
      For a full discussion of special orders, see Special Orders of 
  Business.