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