[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 106th Congress]
[106th Congress]
[House Document 105-358]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[Pages 163-164]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]



 

                    sec. xiv--arrangement of business

Sec. 349. Advantages of an order of business. The Speaker is not precisely bound to any rules as to what bills or other matter shall be first taken up; but it is left to his own discretion, unless the House on a question decide to take up a particular subject. Hakew., 136.
A settled order of business is, however, necessary for the government of the presiding person, and to restrain individual Members from calling up favorite measures, or matters under their special patronage, out of their just turn. It is useful also for directing the discretion of the House, when they are moved to take up a particular matter, to the prejudice of others, having priority of right to their attention in the general order of business. * * * * * In this way we do not waste our time in debating what shall be taken up. We do one thing at a time; follow up a subject while it is fresh, and till it is done with; clear the House of business gradatim as it is brought on, and prevent, to a certain degree, its immense accumulation toward the close of the session. [[Page 164]] Jefferson gave as a part of his comment on the law of Parliament the order of business in the Senate in his time. Both in the House and Senate the order of business has been changed to meet the needs of the times. The order of business now followed in the House is established by rule XIV; and this rule, with the rules supplemental thereto, take away to a very large extent the discretion exercised by the Speaker under the parliamentary law. In the House before committees are appointed it is in order to offer a bill or resolution for consideration not previously considered by a committee (VII, 2103). In the 73d Congress, the House-passed before the adoption of rules and election of committees a bill of major importance (H.R. 1491, providing relief in the existing national emergency in banking), following a message from President Roosevelt recommending its immediate passage (Mar. 9, 1933, pp. 75-84). After committees are appointed, bills and resolutions not otherwise in order must be referred (VII, 2104).
Sec. 350. Conditions of the old and the modern orders of business. Arrangement, however, can only take hold of matters in possession of the House. New matter may be moved at any time when no question is before the House. Such are original motions and reports on bills. Such are bills from the other House, which are received at all times, and receive their first reading as soon as the question then before the House is disposed of; and bills brought in on leave, which are read first whenever presented. So messages from the other House respecting amendments to bills are taken up as soon as the House is clear of a question, unless they require to be printed, for better consideration. Orders of the day may be called for, even when another question is before the House.
In Jefferson's time the principles of this comment would have applied to both House and Senate; but in the House the pressure of business has become so great that the order of business may be interrupted at the will of the majority only by certain specified matters (see annotations following rule XIV). For matters not thus specified, interruption of the order takes place only by unanimous consent. For a discussion of the Speaker's policy of conferring recognition for such unanimous-consent requests, see Sec. 956, infra.