[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 115th Congress]
[House Document 114-192]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]
Formerly this rule was observed (V, 6603, 6604), but since the 62d
Congress messages have been received by the House when the Senate was
not in session (VIII, 3338). Clause 2 of rule II was added in the 97th
Congress, and amended in the 111th Congress, to authorize the Clerk to
receive messages at any time that the House is not in session (H. Res.
5, Jan. 5, 1981, p. 98) or in recess (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 2009, p. 9).
Sec. 560. Messages sent only when both Houses are
Messages between the Houses are to be sent only while both
Houses are sitting. 3 Hats., 15. * * *
In the House messages are received during debate, the Member having
the floor yielding on request of the Speaker.
Sec. 561. Messages received during debate.
* * * They are
received during a debate without adjourning the debate. 3 Hats., 22.
In the House messages are not received while a question is being put
or during a vote by division. However, they are received during the call
of the yeas and nays, during consideration of a question of privilege
(V, 6640-6642), during a call of the House (V, 6600), during debate on a
motion to approve the Journal (Sept. 13, 1965, p. 23607), and before the
organization of the House (V, 6647-6649). But the Speaker exercises
discretion about interrupting the pending business (V, 6602).
then quits it to return into committee without any question or
interruption. 4 Grey, 226.
Sec. 562. Reception of messages during voting, in
absence of a quorum, etc.
In Senate the messengers are introduced in any state
of business, except: 1. While a question is being put. 2. While the yeas
and nays are being called. 3. While the ballots are being counted. The
first case is short; the second and third are cases where any
interruption might occasion errors difficult to be corrected. So
arranged June 15, 1798.
Sec. 563. Informal rising of Committee of the Whole to
receive a message.
In the House, as in Parliament, if the House be in
committee when a messenger attends, the Speaker takes the chair to
receive the message, and
The practice of the House as to reception of messages is founded on
this paragraph of the parliamentary law and on the former joint rules
(V, 6591-6595). The Speaker, with a slight inclination, addresses the
messenger, by title, after the messenger, with an inclination, has
addressed the Speaker (V, 6591).
Sec. 564. Salutation of messengers by the
Messengers are not saluted by the Members, but by the Speaker
for the House. 2 Grey, 253, 274.
passed an identical House Joint Resolution, so that it could
indefinitely postpone action thereon (Nov. 16, 1989, p. 29587); (5) the
Speaker laid before the House as privileged a message from the Senate
requesting the return of a message where it had erroneously appointed
conferees to a bill after the papers had been messaged to the House, so
that the message could be changed to reflect the appointment of Senate
conferees (May 20, 1996, p. 11809); (6) the Speaker laid before the
House as privileged a message from the Senate requesting the return of a
Senate bill that included provisions intruding on the constitutional
prerogative of the House to originate revenue measures (Oct. 19, 1999,
p. 25901; Sept. 28, 2004, p. 19724; Sept. 30, 2004, p. 20045); (7) where
the engrossment failed to depict certain action of the House, the House
considered and agreed to a privileged resolution requesting the Senate
to return the engrossment of a House bill (July 15, 2004, p. 15890) and
a House-passed Senate bill (Oct. 8, 2004, p. 22630); (8) the Speaker
laid before the House as privileged a message from the Senate requesting
the return of Senate amendments to a House bill where the engrossment
failed to properly depict the action of the Senate (July 14, 2005, p.
A request of one House for the return of a bill messaged to the other,
or the request of one House to correct an error in its message to the
other, may qualify as privileged in the House or may be disposed of by
unanimous consent (III, 2613; V, 6605; Deschler-Brown, ch. 32, Sec. 2;
Oct. 1, 1982, p. 27172; May 20, 1996, p. 11809). For example: (1) the
House by unanimous consent agreed to a request from the Senate for the
return of a Senate bill, to the end that the Senate effect a specified
(substantive) change in its text (May 7, 1998, p. 8386) or to the end
that the bill be recommitted to committee (July 15, 2004, p. 15890); (2)
the House by unanimous consent directed its Clerk to correct an error in
a message to the Senate (V, 6607); (3) the House, upon receipt of a
request by the Senate to return a bill during consideration of the
conference report accompanying that bill, laid the conference report
aside and agreed to the Senate request (V, 6609); (4) the House
requested the return of a message indicating passage of a Senate joint
resolution after learning that both Houses had previously
Sec. 565. Correction and return of messages.
commit an error in delivering their message, they may be admitted or
called in to correct their message. 4 Grey, 41. Accordingly, March 13,
1800, the Senate having made two amendments to a bill from the House,
their Secretary, by mistake, delivered one only, which being
inadmissible by itself, that House disagreed, and notified the Senate of
their disagreement. This produced a discovery of the mistake. The
Secretary was sent to the other House to correct his mistake, the
correction was received, and the two amendments acted on de novo.
In the House the message goes to the Speaker's table for disposition
under clause 2 of rule XIV. The Speaker does not acquaint the House,
because it has already heard the message.
Sec. 566. Disposal of messages after reception.
As soon as
the messenger who has brought bills from the other House has retired,
the Speaker holds the bills in his hand; and acquaints the House ``that
the other House have by their messenger sent certain bills,'' and then
reads their titles, and delivers them to the Clerk to be safely kept
till they shall be called for to be read. Hakew., 178.
The Houses of Congress do not communicate by what numbers a bill is
passed, or otherwise recommend their bills.
Sec. 567. Information by message as to bills
It is not the usage for one House to inform the other by what numbers a
bill is passed. 10 Grey, 150. Yet they have sometimes recommended a
bill, as of great importance, to the consideration of the House to which
it is sent. 3 Hats., 25. * * *
But in Congress the rejection is notified by message to the House in
which the bill originated.
In the two Houses of Congress the fact of the rejection of a bill is
messaged to the House in which the bill originated, as in the days of
Jefferson, although the joint rule requiring it has disappeared (IV,
3422; V, 6601). And in a case wherein the House had stricken the
enacting words of a Senate bill, the Senate was notified that the bill
had been rejected (IV, 3423; VII, 2638; Oct. 4, 1972, pp. 33785-87).
Sec. 568. Information by message as to
rejection of bills.
* * * Nor when they have rejected a bill from the other House, do
they give notice of it; but it passes sub silentio, to prevent
unbecoming altercations. 1 Blackst., 183.
In 1798 the House asked of the Senate a question by way of conference,
but this appears to be the only instance (V, 6256).
Sec. 569. Questions asked by conference, not by
A question is never asked by the one House of the other by way of
message, but only at a conference; for this is an interrogatory, not a
message. 3 Grey, 151, 181.
It does not appear that either House of Congress has by message
reminded the other of a neglected bill.
communication should be made to both on the same day. But where a
message was accompanied with an original declaration, signed by the
party to which the message referred, its being sent to one House was not
noticed by the other, because the declaration being original, could not
possibly be sent to both Houses at the same time. 2 Hats., 260, 261,
Sec. 570. Messages as to neglected bills.
When a bill is
sent by one House to the other, and is neglected, they may send a
message to remind them of it. 3 Hats., 25; 5 Grey, 154. But if it be
mere inattention, it is better to have it done informally by
communication between the Speakers or Members of the two Houses.
The King having sent original letters to the Commons afterward desires
they may be returned, that he may communicate them to the Lords. 1
A message of the President of the United States is usually
communicated to both Houses on the same day when its nature permits (V,
6590); but an original document accompanying can, of course, be sent to
but one House (V, 6616, 6617). The President having by inadvertence
included certain papers in a message, was allowed to withdraw them (V,
6651). In the House the Speaker has the discretion, which is rarely
exercised, to suspend a roll call in order to receive a message from the
Sec. 571. Messages from the President to the two
Where the subject of a message is of a nature that it can properly be
communicated to both Houses of Parliament, it is expected that this