28. Committees. It is usual in deliberative assemblies, to have all preliminary work in the preparation of matter for their action, done by means of committees. These may be either "standing committees" (which are appointed for the session [§ 42], or for some definite time, as one year); or "select committees," appointed for a special purpose; or a "committee of the whole" [§ 32], consisting of the entire assembly. [For method of appointing committees of the whole, see § 32; other committees, see commit, § 22.] The first person named on a committee is chairman, and should act as such, without the committee should see fit to elect another chairman, which they are competent to do. The clerk should furnish him, or some other member of the committee, with notice of the appointment of the committee, giving the names of the members, the matter referred to them, and such instructions as the assembly have decided upon. The chairman shall call the committee together, and if there is a quorum (a majority of the committee, see § 43,) he should read or have read, the entire resolutions referred to them; he should then read each paragraph, and pause for amendments to be offered; when the amendments to that paragraph are voted on he proceeds to the next, only taking votes on amendments, as the committee cannot vote on the adoption of matter referred to them by the assembly.
If the committee originate the resolutions, they vote, in the same way, on amendments to each paragraph of the draft of the resolutions, (which draft has been previously prepared by one of their members or a sub-committee); they do not vote on the separate paragraphs, but having completed the amendments, they vote on the adoption of the entire report. When there is a preamble, it is considered last. If the report originates with the committee, all amendments are to be incorporated in the report; but, if the resolutions were referred, the committee cannot alter the text, but must submit the original paper intact, with their amendments (which may be in the form of a substitute, § 23) written on a separate sheet.
A committee is a miniature assembly that must meet together in order to transact business, and usually one of its members should be appointed its clerk. Whatever is not agreed to by the majority of the members present at a meeting (at which a quorum, consisting of a majority of the members of the committee, shall be present) cannot form a part of its report. The minority may be permitted to submit their views in writing also, either together, or each member separately, but their reports can only be acted upon, by voting to substitute one of them for the report of the committee. The rules of the assembly, as far as possible, shall apply in committee; but a reconsideration [§ 27] of a vote shall be allowed, regardless of the time elapsed, only when every member who voted with the majority is present when the reconsideration is moved.* [Both the English common parliamentary law and the rules of Congress prohibit the reconsideration of a vote by a committee; but the strict enforcement of this rule in ordinary committees, would interfere with rather than assist the transaction of business. The rule given above seems more just, and more in accordance with the practice of ordinary committees, who usually reconsider at pleasure. No improper advantage can be taken of the privilege, as long as every member who voted with the majority must be present when the reconsideration is moved.] A committee (except a committee of the whole, § 32] may appoint a sub-committee. When through with the business assigned them, a motion is made for the committee to "rise" (which is equivalent to the motion to adjourn), and that the chairman (or some member who is more familiar with the subject) make its report to the assembly. The committee ceases to exist as soon as the assembly receives the report [§ 30].
The committee has no power to punish its members for disorderly conduct, its resource being to report the facts to the assembly. No allusion can be made in the assembly to what has occurred in committee, except it be by a report of the committee, or by general consent. It is the duty of a committee to meet on the call of any two its of members, if the chairman be absent or decline to appoint such meeting. When a committee adjourns without appointing a time for the next meeting, it is called together in the same way as at its first meeting. When a committee adjourns to meet at another time, it is not necessary (though usually advisable) that absent members should be notified of the adjourned meeting.