As a general rule, the question first moved and seconded, shall be put first. But this rule gives way to what are called privileged questions. The usage in our State Legislature on this subject is, that no business regularly before the house shall be interrupted except by a motion To adjourn,
For the previous question,
For commitment, or
A motion for postponement precludes commitment; a motion for commitment preeludes amendment, or decision on the original resolution.
In Congress, the motion to lie on the table is also a privileged question, and takes precedence of the previous question. The rule is, that when a question is under discussion, no motion shall be received but to adjourn, to lie on the table, for the previous question, to postpone to a day certain, to commit or amend, to postpone indefinitely; which several motions have precedence in the order in which they are arranged. No motion to postpone to a day certain, to commit, or to postpone indefinitely, being decided in the negative, is again allowed on the same day, and at the same stage in the bill or proposition. A motion to strike out the enacting words of a bill, has precedence of a motion to amend, and, if carried, is considered equivalent to its rejection.
The operation of privileged questions is as follows. 1. If a proposition before the meeting is deemed useless or inexpedient, the majority may get rid of it by the previous question, or by indefinite postponement. 2. If the members desire further time to reflect on a resolution, or have more important matters requiring immediate attention, the usual motions are to postpone for the present, or to postpone to a day certain. 3. When a proposition is regarded with favor, but is defective in its details, it may be committed to a committee with instructions, or if the defects can be reached by amendments, the simple motion to amend is usually resorted to.
Besides these motions, which, for the time being, take the place of the main question, incidental questions frequently arise and delay a vote on the original proposition. These are questions concerning the presence of an individual not belonging to the meeting, a quarrel between two members, questions of order, motions for the reading of papers, suspending a rule, etc. When these matters are settled, the question interrupted is resumed at the point where it was suspended.*
* It sometimes happens that questions multiply and assume a complicated form. 1, A resolution may be before the meeting, and 2, a motion made to amend. 3, A motion is made to commit. 4, While these motions are pending, a question of order arises in debate, which gives