[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 112th Congress]
[House Document 111-157]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]
sec. xxxvi--division of the question
The House, by clause 5 of rule XVI and the practice thereunder, has
entitled a procedure differing materially from that above set forth.
Although a resolution electing Members to committees is not divisible
(clause 5 of rule XVI), other types of resolutions containing several
names may be divided for voting (Mar. 19, 1975, p. 7344).
Sec. 480. Parliamentary law for division of the
If a question contain more parts than one, it may be divided into two or
more questions. Mem. in Hakew., 29. But not as the right of an
individual member, but with the consent of the House. For who is to
decide whether a question is complicated or not--where it is
complicated--into how many propositions it may be divided? The fact is,
that the only mode of separating a complicated question is by moving
amendments to it; and these must be decided by the House, on a question,
unless the House orders it to be divided; as, on the question, December
2, 1640, making void the election of the knights for Worcester, on a
motion it was resolved to make two questions of it, to wit, one on each
knight. 2 Hats., 85, 86. So, wherever there are several names in a
question, they may be divided and put one by one. 9 Grey, 444. So, 1729,
April 17, on an objection that a question was complicated, it was
separated by amendment. 2 Hats., 79.
1798, May 30, the alien bill in quasi-committee. To a section and
proviso in the original, had been added two new provisos by way of
amendment. On a motion to strike out the section as amended, the
question was desired to be divided. To do this it must be put first on
striking out either the former proviso, or some distinct member of the
section. But when nothing remains but the last member of the section and
the provisos, they cannot be divided so as to put the last member to
question by itself, for the provisos might thus be left standing alone
as exceptions to a rule when the rule is taken away; or the new provisos
might be left to a second question, after having been decided on once
before at the same reading, which is contrary to rule. But the question
must be on striking out the last member of the section as amended. This
sweeps away the exceptions with the rule, and relieves from
inconsistence. A question to be divisible must comprehend points so
distinct and entire that one of them being taken away, the other may
stand entire. But a proviso or exception, without an enacting clause,
does not contain an entire point or proposition.
was divided into four parts, the 4th
taking in the words ``conforming himself,'' &c. It was objected that the
words ``any alien merchant,'' could not be separated from their
modifying words, ``conforming,'' &c., because these words, if left by
themselves, contain no substantive idea, will make no sense. But
admitting that the divisions of a paragraph into separate questions must
be so made as that each part may stand by itself, yet the House having,
on the question, retained the two first divisions, the words ``any alien
merchant'' may be struck out, and their modifying words will then attach
themselves to the preceding description of persons, and become a
modification of that description.
May 31.--The same bill being before the Senate. There was a proviso
that the bill should not extend--1. To any foreign minister; nor, 2. To
any person to whom the President should give a passport; nor, 3. To any
alien merchant conforming himself to such regulations as the President
shall prescribe; and a division of the question into its simplest
elements was called for. It
Sec. 481. Jefferson's discussion of division of
The soundness of these observations will be evident from the
embarrassments produced by the XVIIIth rule of the Senate, which says,
``if the question in debate contains several points, any member may have
the same divided.''
Where a division of the question is demanded on a portion of an
amendment, the Chair puts the question first on the remaining portions
of the amendment, and that portion on which the division is demanded
remains open for further debate and amendment (Oct. 21, 1981, p. 24785).
However, where neither portion of a divided question remains open to
further debate or amendment, the question may be put first on the
portion identified by the demand for division and then on the remainder
(June 8, 1995, p. 15302).
Sec. 482. Division of question as related to debate or
When a question is divided, after the question on the 1st member,
the 2d is open to debate and amendment; because it is a known rule that
a person may rise and speak at any time before the question has been
completely decided, by putting the negative as well as the affirmative
side. But the question is not completely put when the vote has been
taken on the first member only. One-half the question, both affirmative
and negative, remains still to be put. See Execut. Jour., June 25, 1795.
The same decision by President Adams.