21. To Postpone to a Certain Day. This motion takes precedence of a motion to Commit, or Amend, or Indefinitely Postpone, and yields to any Privileged [§ 9] or Incidental [§ 8] question, and to the motion to Lie on the Table, or for the Previous Question. It can be amended by altering the time, and the Previous Question can be applied to it without affecting any other motions pending. It allows of very limited debate [§ 35], and that must not go into the merits of the subject matter any further than is necessary to enable the assembly to judge the propriety of the postponement.
The Effect of this motion is to postpone the entire subject to the time specified, until which time it cannot be taken up except by a two-thirds vote [§ 13]. When that time arrives it is entitled to be taken up in preference to every thing except Privileged questions. Where several questions are postponed to different times and are not reached then, they shall be considered in the order of the times to which they were postponed. It is not in order to postpone to a time beyond that session [§ 42] of the assembly, except* [In Congress a motion cannot be postponed to the next session, but it is customary in ordinary societies.] to the day of the next session when it comes up with the unfinished business, and consequently takes precedence of new business [§ 44]. If it is desired to hold an adjourned meeting to consider a special subject, the time to which the assembly shall adjourn [§ 10] should be first fixed before making the motion to postpone the subject to that day.
22. To Commit [or Recommit as it is called when the subject has been previously committed]. This motion takes precedence of the motions to Amend or Indefinitely Postpone, and yields to any Privileged [§ 9] or Incidental
[§ 8] Question, and also to the motion to Lie on the Table, or for the Previous Question, or to Postpone to a certain day. It can be amended by altering the committee, or giving it instructions. It is debatable, and opens to debate [§ 35] the merits of the question it is proposed to commit.
The Form of this motion is "to refer the subject to a committee." When different committees are proposed they should he voted in the following order: (1) Committee the whole [§ 32], (2) a standing committee, and (3) a special (or select) committee. The number of a committee is usually decided without the formality of a motion, as in filling blanks [§ 25]: the Chairman asks "of how many shall the committee consist?" and a question is then put upon each number suggested, beginning with the largest. The number and kind of the committee need not be decided till after it has been voted to refer the subject to a committee. If the committee is a select one, and the motion does not include the method of appointing it, and there is no standing rule on the subject, the Chairman inquires how the committee shall be appointed, and this is usually decided informally. Sometimes the Chair "appoints," in which case he names the members of the committee and no vote is taken upon them; or the committee is "nominated" either by the Chair or members of the assembly (no member nominating more than one except by general consent), and then they are all voted upon together, except where more nominations are made than the number of the committee, when they shall be voted upon singly.
Where a committee is one for action (a committee of arrangements for holding a public meeting, for example), it should generally be small, and no one placed upon it who is not favorable to the proposed action; and if any such should be appointed he should ask to be excused. But when the committee is for deliberation or investigation, it is of the utmost importance that all parties be represented on it, so that in committee the fullest discussion may take place, and thus diminish the chances of unpleasant debates in the assembly.
In ordinary assemblies, by judicious appointment of committees, debates upon delicate and troublesome questions can be mostly confined to the committees, which will contain the representative members of all parties. [See Reports of Committees, § 29.]