In Congress, motions to reconsider are in order on the same day, or the day after, the passage of a motion, proposition or bill. In our State Legislature the time is extended to the six following days, exclusive of Sabbath. In the U. S. Senate, one of the rules is, that "no motion for the reconsideration of any vote, shall be in order after a bill, resolution, message, report, amendment, or motion upon which the vote was taken, shall have gone out of the possession of the Senate."
In Societies it is not usual to extend the privilege of this motion beyond the next meeting, and this extension is, in some cases, too long. If the matter proposed to be reconsidered, has passed from the meeting, the motion to reconsider should not be received. The Senate rule should be applied in all such cases. When the subject is still in possession of the Society, it may be allowable to entertain the motion to reconsider at the next meeting after that at which the proposition proposed to be reconsidered was adopted. This matter should, however, be provided for in the by-laws.
In all cases the motion to reconsider must be made and seconded by gentlemen who voted in the majority; or, in case of equal division, by those who voted in the negative.
In Congress, it not unfrequently happens, that a member will vote for a proposition to which he is opposed, and which he finds is about to carry, merely for the purpose of making himself eligible to move a reconsideration, which, if carried, gives him another opportunity of making a thrust at the measure.
During the limitation, a motion to reconsider takes precedence,in Congress,of all motions, excepting the motion to adjourn. The motion to reconsider is sometimes made, and then postponed, and the only way to avoid this inconvenience is to force a vote, by calling and sustaining the previous question.*
In Parliament, the motion to reconsider is not allowable. There, a question once carried, cannot be questioned again, and stands as the judgment of the House, and a bill once rejected, cannot be brought in again, in the same shape, during the session.† English authors remark that various expedients, are resorted to, in order to correct the effects of this rule, such as passing an explanatory act, if any thing has been omitted or ill-expressed, or an act to enforce, and make more effectual an act, etc, or an act to rectify mistakes in an act, etc. Or, the session may be closed for one, two, three, or more days, and a new one commenced; or a part of a subject may be taken up by another bill, in a different manner, so as to change some of its prominent features.
* In this case, the "main question" will be the motion to reconsider.
†Hatsell states that a bill to tax leather being once defeated in the House of Commons, the same proposition was subsequently renewed with this variation, "that skins and tanned hides should be charged," etc.