Going into a committee of the whole is a matter of almost daily occurrence in all Legislative bodies. The leading advantages of so doing are, that the members may speak oftener than twice; that the debate cannot be stopped by the previous question; and that much labor is saved to the clerk,* who is not obliged to insert the amendments offered in committee upon the journal.
The mode is as follows. A motion is made and seconded, "that the Society resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, for the purpose of considering the resolution relating to - ," naming the subject. The President puts the question, and if it prevails, he will call some member to the chair, or the members may themselves appoint a Chairman.
The President will then vacate the chair, which will be taken by the Chairman - who will say, "the Committee of the whole have referred to them the resolution relating to ------; it will be read." And after being read by the Secretary, he will say, "the resolution is before the committee," which announcement opens the subject for discussion.
* In Committee of the Whole, the Secretary of the Society continues to act as clerk.
The rules and proceedings observed in the Society, are to be observed, as far as practicable, in committee of the whole. Neither the yeas and nays, nor the previous question, can, however, be called, nor can an appeal from the decision of the chair be taken - the power of the Chairman, on points of order, being absolute. A quorum in committee is the same as a quorum in the Society, and if the Chairman finds, at any time, no quorum present, the committee must immediately rise, and report the fact to the Society.
When the lower house of Congress is resolved into committee of the whole, no member is allowed to speak more than once, until every member choosing to speak shall have spoken. This rule does not prevail in the Legislature of this state, where a member may speak as often as he can obtain the floor.
When the committee have gone through the resolution or resolutions referred to them, the Chairman will say, "the resolution is gone through; the committee will rise," whereupon the Chairman will leave the chair, and the President resume his seat. The Chairman should then proceed to his seat on the floor, and, addressing the President, say, "The committee of the whole have had under consideration the resolution relating to ------ , and have instructed me to report the same with certain amendments," or "without amendment," or "negatived," as the case may be. The President repeats this report, and says: "the resolution is before the meeting. In case the resolution has been negatived in committee of the whole, he will say: "will the meeting agree to the report of the committee?"
When a committee wish to rise before they have gone through with their business, they can do so upon a motion to that effect being seconded and carried - whereupon the Chairman will report "progress, and ask leave to sit again." If leave is granted, the time is named; and to kill a bill effectually, the members sometimes name a day beyond the session;* if refused, the effect is to bring up the resolution at once before the Society. This course is very often pursued in our Legislature, when the friends of a bill are confident that they have a majority in its favor.
* Another way to kill a bill is, to postpone the motion for agreeing to the report of a committee.
Amendments made in committee of the whole, may be stricken out of the Society, and matters stricken out in committee, may be re-inserted when the subject is under discussion before the meeting.
In committee of the whole, the President of the Society has a right to participate in the debate and proceedings, as if he were a private member.
The amendments made in committee of the whole are to be incorporated with the resolution, and so reported.
Suppose several resolutions are submitted to the committee of the whole, and the first is negatived. If the others are all dependant on the first, the committee must rise, and report the first resolution negatived.
In a committee of the whole in Parliament, when a vote is once passed, it cannot be altered by the committee, their votes being binding on themselves. This rule excludes the motion to reconsider from committee of the whole. On taking up a bill reported by a committee of the whole, with amendments, the practice in Parliament is, for the clerk to read the amendments only. The Speaker then puts the question on the first amendment, and so until the whole are adopted or rejected. When the amendments of the committee are gone through with, other amendments may be proposed in the house.