RULES OF ORDER.
Art. I. How Business Is Conducted in Deliberative Assemblies.
1. Introduction of Business
2. What Precedes Debate
3. Obtaining the floor
4. Motions and Resolutions
5. Seconding Motions
6. Stating the Question
8. Secondary Motions
9. Putting the Question and Announcing the Vote
10. Proper Motions to Use to Accomplish Certain
1. Introduction of Business. An assembly
having been organized as described in 69,
business is brought before it either by the motion of a member, or by the
presentation of a communication to the assembly. It is not usual to make motions
to receive reports of committees or communications to the assembly. There are
many other cases in the ordinary routine of business where the formality of a
motion is dispensed with, but should any member object, a regular motion becomes
necessary, or the chair may put the question without waiting for a motion.
2. What Precedes Debate. Before any subject
is open to debate it is necessary, first, that a motion be made by a member who
has obtained the floor; second, that it be seconded (with certain exceptions);
and third, that it be stated by the chair, that is, by the presiding officer.
The fact that a motion has been made and seconded does not put it before the
assembly, as the chair alone can do that. He must either rule it out of order,
or state the question on it so that the assembly may know what is before it for
consideration and action, that is, what is the immediately pending question.
If several questions are pending, as a resolution and an amendment and a motion
to postpone, the last one stated by the chair is the immediately pending
While no debate or other motion is in order after a
motion is made, until it is stated or ruled out of order by the chair, yet
members may suggest modifications of the motion, and the mover, without the
consent of the seconder, has the right to make such modifications as he pleases,
or even to withdraw his motion entirely before the chair states the question.
After it is stated by the chair he can do neither without the consent of the
assembly as shown in 27(c). A little
informal consultation before the question is stated often saves much time, but
the chair must see that this privilege is not abused and allowed to run into
debate. When the mover modifies his motion the one who seconded it has a right
to withdraw his second.
3. Obtaining the Floor. Before a member
can make a motion, or address the assembly in debate, it is necessary that he
should obtain the floor -- that is, he must rise after the floor has
been yielded, and address the presiding officer by his official title, thus, "Mr.
Chairman," or "Mr. President," or "Mr. Moderator;"1 or, if a woman (married or single), "Madam
Chairman," or "Madam President." If the assembly is large so that
the member's name may be unknown to the chairman, the member should give his
name as soon as he catches the eye of the chairman after addressing him. If the
member is entitled to the floor, as shown hereafter, the chairman "recognizes"
him, or assigns him the floor, by announcing his name. If the assembly is small
and the members are known to each other, it is not necessary for the member to
give his name after addressing the chair, as the presiding officer is termed,
nor is it necessary for the chair to do more than bow in recognition of his
having the floor. If a member rises before the floor has been yielded, or is
standing at the time, he cannot obtain the floor provided any one else rises
afterwards and addresses the chair. It is out of order to be standing when
another has the floor, and the one guilty of this violation of the rules cannot
claim he rose first, as he did not rise after the floor had been yielded.
Where two or more rise about the same time to claim the
floor, all other things being equal, the member who rose first after the floor
had been yielded, and addressed the chair is entitled to the floor. It
frequently occurs, however, that where more than one person claims the floor
about the same time, the interests of the assembly require the floor to be
assigned to a claimant that was not the first to rise and address the chair.
There are three classes of such cases that may arise: (1) When a debatable
question is immediately pending; (2) when an undebatable question is immediately
pending; (3) when no question is pending. In such cases the chair in assigning
the floor should be guided by the following principles:
(1) When a Debatable Question is
immediately Pending. (a) The member upon whose motion the immediately
pending debatable question was brought before the assembly is entitled to be
recognized as having the floor (if he has not already spoken on that question)
even though another has risen first and addressed the chair. The member thus
entitled to preference in recognition in case of a committee's report is the
reporting member (the one who presents or submits the report); in case of a
question taken from the table, it is the one who moved to take the question from
the table; in case of the motion to reconsider, it is the one who moved to
reconsider, and who is not necessarily the one who calls up the motion. (b) No
member who has already had the floor in debate on the immediately pending
question is again entitled to it for debate on the same question. As the
interests of the assembly are best subserved by allowing the floor to alternate
between the friends and enemies of a measure, the chairman, when he knows which
side of a question is taken by each claimant of the floor, and these claims are
not determined by the above principles, should give the preference to the one
opposed to the last speaker.
(2) When an Undebatable Question
Is Immediately Pending. When the immediately pending question is
undebatable, its mover has no preference to the floor, which should be assigned
in accordance with the principles laid down under (b) in paragraph below.
(3) When No Question Is Pending.
(a) When one of a series of motions has been disposed of,
and there is no question actually pending, the next of the series has the right
of way, and the chair should recognize the member who introduced the series to
make the next motion, even though another has risen first and addressed the
chair. In fact no other main motion is in order until the assembly has disposed
of the series. Thus, the motion to lay on the table, properly used, is designed
to lay aside a question temporarily, in order to attend to some more urgent
business, and, therefore, if a question is laid on the table, the one who moved
to lay it on the table, if he immediately claims the floor, is entitled to it to
introduce the urgent business even though another has risen first. So, when the
rules are suspended to enable a motion to be made, the mover of the motion to
suspend the rules is entitled to the floor to make the motion for which the
rules were suspended, even though another rose first. When a member moves to
reconsider a vote for the announced purpose of amending the motion, if the vote
is reconsidered he must be recognized in preference to others in order to move
his amendment. (b) If, when no question is pending and no
series of motions has been started that has not been disposed of, a member rises
to move to reconsider a vote, or to call up the motion to reconsider that had
been previously made, or to take a question from the table when it is in order,
he is entitled to the floor in preference to another that may have risen
slightly before him to introduce a main motion, provided that when some one
rises before him he, on rising, states the purpose for which he rises. If
members, rising to make the above mentioned motions, come into competition they
have the preference in the order in which these motions have just been given;
first, to reconsider; and last to take from the table. When a motion to appoint
a committee for a certain purpose, or to refer a subject to a committee, has
been adopted no new subject (except a privileged one) can be introduced until
the assembly has decided all of the related questions as to the number of the
committee, and as to how it shall be appointed, and as to any instructions to be
given it. In this case the one who made the motion to appoint the committee or
refer the subject to a committee has no preference in recognition. If he had
wished to make the other motions he should have included them all in his first
From the decision of the chair in assigning the floor any
two members may appeal,2 one making the appeal
and the other seconding it. Where the chair is in doubt as to who is entitled to
the floor, he may allow the assembly to decide the question by a vote, the one
having the largest vote being entitled to the floor.
If a member has risen to claim the floor, or has been
assigned the floor, and calls for the question to be made, or it is moved to
adjourn, or to lay the question on the table, it is the duty of the chair to
suppress the disorder and protect the member who is entitled to the floor.
Except by general consent, a motion cannot be made by one who has not been
recognized by the chair as having the floor. If it is made it should not be
recognized by the chair if any one afterwards rises and claims the floor, thus
showing that general consent has not been given.
In Order When Another Has the Floor. After a
member has been assigned the floor he cannot be interrupted by a member or the
chairman, except by (a) a motion to reconsider; (b) a point of order; an
objection to the consideration of the question; (d) a call for the orders of the
day when they are not being conformed to; (e) a question of privilege; (f) a
request or demand that the question be divided when it consists of more than one
independent resolution on different subjects; or (g) a parliamentary inquiry or
a request for information that requires immediate answer; and these cannot
interrupt him after he has actually commenced speaking unless the urgency is so
great as to justify it. The speaker (that is, the member entitled to the floor)
does not lose his right to the floor by these interruptions, and the
interrupting member does not obtain the floor thereby, and after they have been
attended to, the chair assigns him the floor again. So when a member submitting
a report from a committee or offering a resolution, hands it to the secretary to
be read, he does not thereby yield his right to the floor. When the reading is
finished and the chair states the question, neither the secretary nor any one
else can make a motion until the member submitting the report, or offering the
resolution, has had a reasonable opportunity to claim the floor to which he is
entitled, and has not availed himself of his privilege. If, when he submitted
the report, he made no motion to accept or adopt the recommendations or
resolutions, he should resume the floor as soon as the report is read, and make
the proper motion to carry out the recommendations, after which he is entitled
to the floor for debate as soon as the question is stated.
1. "Brother Moderator," or "Brother
Chairman," implies that the speaker is also a moderator or chairman, and
should not be used.
2. In the U. S. House of Representatives
there is no appeal from the decision of the chair as to who is entitled to the
floor, nor should there he any appeal in large mass meetings, as the best
interests of the assembly require the chair to be given more power in such large
4. Motions and Resolutions. A motion is a
proposal that the assembly take certain action, or that it express itself as
holding certain views. It is made by a member's obtaining the floor as already
described and saying, "I move that" (which is equivalent to saying, "I
propose that"), and then stating the action he proposes to have taken. Thus
a member "moves" (proposes) that a resolution be adopted, or amended,
or referred to a committee, or that a vote of thanks be extended, etc.; or "That
it is the sense of this meeting (or assembly) that industrial training,"
etc. Every resolution should be in writing, and the presiding officer has a
right to require any main motion, amendment, or instructions to a committee to
be in writing. When a main motion is of such importance or length as to be in
writing it is usually written in the form of a resolution, that is,
beginning with the words, "Resolved, That," the word "Resolved"
being underscored (printed in italics) and followed by a comma, and the word "That"
beginning with a capital "T." If the word "Resolved" were
replaced by the words "I move," the resolution would become a motion.
A resolution is always a main motion. In some sections of the country the word "resolve"
is frequently used instead of "resolution." In assemblies with paid
employees, instructions given to employees are called "orders" instead
of "resolutions," and the enacting word, "Ordered" is used
instead of "Resolved."
When a member wishes a resolution adopted after having
obtained the floor, he says, "I move the adoption of the following
resolution," or "I offer the following resolution," which he
reads and hands to the chair. If it is desired to give the reasons for the
resolution, they are usually stated in a preamble, each clause of which
constitutes a paragraph beginning with "Whereas." The preamble is
always amended last, as changes in the resolution may require changes the
preamble. In moving the adoption of a resolution the preamble is not usually
referred to, as it is included in the resolution. But when the previous question
is ordered on the resolution before the preamble has been considered for
amendment, it does not apply to the preamble, which is then open to debate and
amendment. The preamble should never contain a period, but each paragraph should
close with a comma or semicolon, followed by "and," except the last
paragraph, which should close with the word "therefore," or "therefore,
be it." A resolution should avoid periods where practicable. Usually, where
periods are necessary, it is better to separate it into a series of resolutions,
in which case the resolutions may be numbered, if preferred, by preceding them
with the figures 1, 2, etc.; or it may retain the form of a single resolution
with several paragraphs, each beginning with "That," and these may be
numbered, if preferred, by placing "First," "Second," etc.,
just before the word "That." The following form will serve as a guide
when it is desired to give the reasons for a resolution:
Whereas, We consider that suitable recreation is a necessary part of a
rational educational system; and
Whereas, There is no public ground in this village where our school children
can play; therefore
Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that ample play
grounds should be immediately provided for our school children.
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the chair to
present these resolutions to the village authorities and to urge upon them
prompt action in the matter.
As a general rule no member can make two motions at a
time except by general consent. But he may combine the motion to suspend the
rules with the motion for whose adoption it was made; and the motion to
reconsider a resolution and its amendments; and a member may offer a resolution
and at the same time move to make it a special order for a specified time.
5. Seconding Motions. As a general rule,
with the exceptions given below, every motion should be seconded. This is to
prevent time being consumed in considering a question that only one person
favors, and consequently little attention is paid to it in routine motions.
Where the chair is certain the motion meets with general favor, and yet members
are slow about seconding it, he may proceed without waiting for a second. Yet,
any one may make a point of order that the motion has not been seconded, and
then the chair is obliged to proceed formally and call for a second. The better
way when a motion is not at once seconded, is for the chair to ask, "Is the
motion seconded?" In a very large hall the chair should repeat the motion
before calling for a second in order that all may hear. After a motion has been
made no other motion is in order until the chair has stated the question on this
motion, or has declared, after a reasonable opportunity has been given for a
second, that the motion has not been seconded, or has ruled it out of order.
Except in very small assemblies the chair cannot assume that members know what
the motion is and that it has not been seconded, unless he states the facts.
A motion is seconded by a member's saying "I second
the motion," or "I second it," which he does without obtaining
the floor, and in small assemblies without rising. In large assemblies, and
especially where non-members are scattered throughout the assembly, members
should rise, and without waiting for recognition, say, "Mr. Chairman, I
second the motion."
Exceptions. The following do not require a
|Question of Privilege, to raise a
|Questions of Order
|Objection to the Consideration of a Question
|Call for Orders of the Day
|Call for Division of the Question (under certain circumstances)
|Call for Division of the Assembly (in voting)
|Call up Motion to Reconsider
|Leave to Withdraw a Motion
|Inquiries of any kind
1. In Congress motions are not required
to be seconded.
6. Stating the Question. When a motion has
been made and seconded, it is the duty of the chair, unless he rules it out of
order, immediately to state the question -- that is, state the exact
question that is before the assembly for its consideration and action. This he
may do in various ways, depending somewhat on the nature of the question, as
illustrated by the following examples: "It is moved and seconded that the
following resolution be adopted [reading the resolution];" or "It is
moved and seconded to adopt the following resolution;" "Mr. A offers
the following resolution [read]: the question is on its adoption;" "It
is moved and seconded to amend the resolution by striking out the word 'very'
before the word 'good';" "The previous question has been demanded [or,
moved and seconded] on the amendment;" "It is moved and seconded that
the question be laid on the table;" "It is moved and seconded that we
adjourn." [Under each motion is shown the form of stating the question if
there is any peculiarity in the form.] If the question is debatable or
amendable, the chair should immediately ask, "Are you ready for the
question?" If no one then rises he should put the question as described in
9. If the question cannot be debated or amended, he
does not ask, "Are you ready for the question?" but immediately puts
the question after stating it.
7. Debate. After a question has been stated
by the chair, it is before the assembly for consideration and action. All
resolutions, reports of committees, communications to the assembly, and all
amendments proposed to them, and all other motions except the Undebatable
Motions mentioned in 45, may be debated
before final action is taken on them, unless by a two-thirds vote the assembly
decides to dispose of them without debate. By a two-thirds vote is meant
two-thirds of the votes cast, a quorum being present. In the debate each member
has the right to speak twice on the same question on the same day (except on an
appeal), but cannot make a second speech on the same question as long as any
member who has not spoken on that question desires the floor. No one can speak
longer than ten minutes at a time without permission of the assembly.
Debate must be limited to the merits of the immediately
pending question -- that is, the last question stated by the chair that is
still pending; except that in a few cases the main question is also open to
debate . Speakers must address their
remarks to the presiding officer, be courteous in their language and deportment,
and avoid all personalities, never alluding to the officers or other members by
name, where possible to avoid it, nor to the motives of members. [For further
information on this subject see Debate, 42,
and Decorum in Debate, 43.]
8. Secondary Motions. To assist in the
proper disposal of the question various subsidiary  motions are used, such as to amend, to
commit, etc., and for the time being the subsidiary motion replaces the
resolution, or motion, and becomes the immediately pending question. While these
are pending, a question incidental to the business may arise, as a question of
order, and this incidental 
question interrupts the business and, until disposed of, becomes the immediately
pending question. And all of these may be superseded by certain motions, called
privileged  motions, as to
adjourn, of such supreme importance as to justify their interrupting all other
questions. All of these motions that may be made while the original motion is
pending are sometimes referred to as secondary motions. The proper use
of many of these is shown in 10.
9. Putting the Question and Announcing the Vote.1 When the debate appears to have closed, the chair asks
again, "Are you ready for the question?" If no one rises he proceeds
to put the question -- that is, to take the vote on the question, first
calling for the affirmative and then for the negative vote. In putting the
question the chair should make perfectly clear what the question is that the
assembly is to decide. If the question is on the adoption of a resolution,
unless it has been read very recently, it should be read again, the question
being put in a way similar to this: "The question is on the adoption of the
resolution [which the chair reads]; those in favor of the resolution say aye;
those opposed say no. The ayes have it, and the resolution is adopted;" or,
"The noes have it, and the resolution is lost." Or, thus: "The
question is on agreeing to the following resolution," which the chair
reads, and then he continues, "As many as are in favor of agreeing to the
resolution say aye;" after the ayes have responded he continues, "As
many as are opposed say no. The ayes have it," etc. Or, "It is moved
and seconded that an invitation be extended to Mr. Jones to address our club at
its next meeting. Those in favor of the motion will rise; be seated; those
opposed will rise. The affirmative has it and the motion is adopted [or
carried]." Or, if the vote is by "show of hands," the question is
put and the vote announced in a form similar to this; "It has been moved
and seconded to lay the resolution on the table. Those in favor of the motion
will raise the right hand; those opposed will signify [or manifest] it in the
same way [or manner]. The affirmative has it [or, The motion is adopted, or
carried] and the resolution is laid on the table." The vote should always
be announced, as it is a necessary part of putting the question. The assembly is
assumed not to know the result of the vote until announced by the chair, and the
vote does not go into effect until announced. As soon as the result of the vote
is announced the chair should state the next business in order, as in the
following example of putting the question on an amendment: "The question is
on amending the resolution by inserting the word 'oak' before the word 'desk.'
Those in favor of the amendment say aye; those opposed say no. The ayes have it
and the amendment is adopted. The question is now [or recurs] on the resolution
as amended, which is as follows: [read the resolution as amended]. Are you ready
for the question?" The chair should never neglect to state what is the
business next in order after every vote is announced, nor to state the exact
question before the assembly whenever a motion is made. Much confusion is
avoided thereby. The vote should always be taken first by the voice (viva voce)
or by show of hands (the latter method being often used in small assemblies),
except in the case of motions requiring a two-thirds vote, when a rising vote
should be taken at first. When a division is demanded a rising vote is taken.
For further information on voting see 46.
Under each motion is given the form of putting the question whenever the form is
1. H. R. Rule 1, §5, is as follows:
"5, He shall rise to put a question, but may state it sitting; and shall
put questions in this form, to wit: 'As many as are in favor (as the question
may be), say Aye;' and after the affirmative voice is expressed, "As many
as are opposed, say No;' if he doubts, or a division is called for, the House
shall divide; those in the affirmative of the question shall first rise from
their seats, and then those in the negative; if he still doubts, or a count is
required by at least one-fifth of a quorum, he shall name one from each side of
the question to tell the members in the affirmative and negative; which being
reported, he shall rise and state the decision."
10. Proper Motions to Use to Accomplish
Certain Objects. To enable any one to ascertain what motion to use in order
to accomplish what is desired, the common motions are arranged in the table
below according to the objects to be attained by their use. Immediately after
the table is a brief statement of the differences between the motions placed
under each object, and of the circumstances under which each should be used.
They include all of the Subsidiary Motions ,
which are designed for properly disposing of a question pending before the
assembly; and the three motions designed to again bring before the assembly a
question that has been acted upon or laid aside temporarily; and the motion
designed to bring before another meeting of the assembly a main question which
has been voted on in an unusually small or unrepresentative meeting. Motions, as
a general rule, require for their adoption only a majority vote -- that is, a
majority of the votes cast, a quorum being present; but motions to suppress or
limit debate, or to prevent the consideration of a question, or, without notice
to rescind action previously taken, require a two-thirds vote . The figures and letters on the left in the
list below correspond to similar figures and letters in the statement of
differences further on. The figures to the right in the list refer to the
sections where the motions are fully treated.
The Common Motions Classified According to Their Objects.
- (1) To Modify or Amend.
- (a) Amend ..............................33
- (b) Commit or Refer ....................32
- (2) To Defer Action.
- (a) Postpone to a Certain Time .........31
- (b) Make a Special Order (2/3 Vote) ....20
- (c) Lay on the Table ...................28
- (3) To Suppress or Limit Debate (2/3 Vote).
- (a) Previous Question (to close debate
(2/3 Vote) ........................29
- (b) Limit Debate (2/3 Vote) ............30
- (4) To Suppress the Question.
- (a) Objection to Its Consideration
- (b) Previous Question and Reject
- (c) Postpone Indefinitely ..............34
- (d) Lay on the Table ...................28
- (5) To Consider a Question a Second Time.
- (a) Take from the Table ................35
- (b) Reconsider .........................36
- (c) Rescind ............................37
- (6) To Prevent Final Action on a Question
in an Unusually Small or
- (a) Reconsider and have Entered on
(1) To Modify or Amend. (a) When a resolution
or motion is not worded properly, or requires any modification to meet the
approval of the assembly, if the changes required can be made in the assembly,
the proper motion to make is to amend by "inserting," or "adding,"
or by "striking out," or by "striking out and inserting," or
by "substituting" one or more paragraphs for those in the resolution.
(b) But if much time will be required, or if the changes required are numerous,
or if additional information is required to enable the assembly to act
intelligently, then it is usually better to refer the question to a
(2) To Defer Action. (a)
If it is desired to put off the further consideration of a question to a certain
hour, so that when that time arrives, as soon as the pending business is
disposed of, it shall have the right of consideration over all questions except
special orders and a reconsideration, then the proper motion to make is, to
postpone to that certain time. This is also the proper motion to make if it
is desired to defer action simply to another day. As the motion if adopted
cannot interrupt the pending question when the appointed time arrives, nor can
it suspend any rule, it requires only a majority vote for its adoption. A
question postponed to a certain time cannot be taken up before the appointed
time except by suspending the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote.
(b) If it is desired to appoint for the consideration of
a question a certain time when it may interrupt any pending question except one
relating to adjournment or recess, or a question of privilege or a specified
order that was made before it was, then the proper course is to move "that
the question be made a special order for," etc., specifying the day
or hour. As this motion, if adopted, suspends all rules that interfere with the
consideration of the question at the appointed time, it requires a two-thirds
vote for its adoption. A special order cannot be considered before the appointed
time except by suspending the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote.
(c) If, however, it is desired to lay the question aside
temporarily with the right to take it up at any moment when business of this
class, or unfinished or new business, is in order and no other question is
before the assembly, the proper motion to use is to lay the question on the
table. When laid upon the table a majority vote may take it up at the same
or the next session, as described in 35.
(3) To Suppress Debate. (a)
If it is desired to close debate now and bring the assembly at once to a vote on
the pending question, or questions, the proper course is to move, or demand, or
call for, the previous question on the motions upon which it is desired to close
debate. The motion, or demand, for the previous question should always specify
the motions upon which it is desired to order the previous question. If