[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 109th Congress]
[House Document 108-241]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]
sec. xxxii--reading papers
Until the 103d Congress the House, by former rule XXX, had a provision
regarding the reading a paper other than that on which the House is
called to give a final vote (see Sec. Sec. 964, 965, infra).
Sec. 432. Parliamentary law as to the reading of
Where papers are laid before the House or referred to a committee
every Member has a right to have them once read at the table before he
can be compelled to vote on them; but it is a great though common error
to suppose that he has a right, toties quoties, to have acts, journals,
accounts, or papers on the table read independently of the will of the
House. The delay and interruption which this might be made to produce
evince the impossibility of the existence of such a right. There is,
indeed, so manifest a propriety of permitting every Member to have as
much information as possible on every question on which he is to vote,
that when he desires the reading, if it be seen that it is really for
information and not for delay, the Speaker directs it to be read without
putting a question, if no one objects; but if objected to, a question
must be put. 2 Hats., 117, 118.
Sec. 433. Papers not necessarily to be read on plea of
It is equally an error to suppose that any Member has a right,
without a question put, to lay a book or paper on the table, and have it
read, on suggesting that it contains matter infringing on the privileges
of the House. Ib.
A Member has not a right even to read his own speech, committed to
writing, without leave. This also is to prevent an abuse of time, and
therefore is not refused but where that is intended. 2 Grey, 227.
Sec. 434. Member not always privileged to read a paper in
For the same reason a Member has not a right to read a paper in
his place, if it be objected to, without leave of the House. But this
rigor is never exercised but where there is an intentional or gross
abuse of the time and patience of the House.
In the House ordinary reports are read only in time of debate (V,
5292), and subject to the authority of the House (V, 5293). But in a few
cases, where a report does not accompany a bill or other proposition of
action, but presents facts and conclusions, it is read to the House if
acted on (II, 1364; IV, 4663).
Sec. 435. Reports of committees not read except on order or
A report of a committee of the Senate on a bill from the
House of Representatives being under consideration: on motion that the
report of the committee of the House of Representatives on the same bill
be read in the Senate, it passed in the negative. Feb. 28, 1793.
Under the rules, petitions, memorials, and communications are referred
through the Clerk's desk, so that there is no opportunity for reading
before reference, though messages from the President are read (clauses 1
and 3 of rule XII; clause 2 of rule XIV).
Sec. 436. Reading of papers on reference.
papers were referred to a committee, they used to be first read; but of
late only the titles, unless a Member insists they shall be read, and
then nobody can oppose it. 2 Hats., 117.