3. It cannot be debated or amended.

4. It must be seconded before it can be voted upon.

5. It takes precedence over all former motions on the main question, except to lay on the table.

6. It having been called and seconded, the chairman asks, " Shall the main question be now put ?"

7. If the vote, then taken, favors the affirmative, the main question is given to the assembly for action, without debate.

8. If then the vote upon the main question is in favor of its adoption, its fate is decided. But if the nays have a majority, the main question is only postponed for futher consideration.

Reading Papers

1. Papers supporting any measure under consideration, explaining particular points at issue, or giving any important information on the subject, may be received by the secretary and announced by the chairman to the assembly.

2. Such papers cannot be brought into any discussion on which they have a bearing until they have been once read aloud to the assembly.

3. Any member may call for the reading of the papers when the question to which they relate is before the assembly.

4. The motion cannot be debated or amended, but is usually consented to tacitly, and the papers are accordingly read by the clerk, under the instructions of the chair.

5. Members cannot read other papers or books aloud during a discussion, without the permission of the assembly, and a motion and vote on the privilege may be required, if necessary.

442 postponement; quorum; right to floor; suspension of rules.

6. Papers relating to measures in charge of a committee may be received and sent to the committee without reading; although, if insisted upon, they must be read aloud to the assembly.


1. Motions to postpone action on any measure before the assembly are of two kinds.

2. One kind proposes a postponement to a definite date; the other, a postponement indefinitely.

3. A motion for either is debatable, and may be so amended as to fix a time, or change a time, to which the postponement extends.

4. Such an amendment changes an indefinite postponement to a definite one.

5. A motion to postpone a measure supersedes a motion to refer it to a committee, to amend it, or to call the previous question, until the proposed postponement is voted down.

6. A motion to postpone indefinitely opens the main question to debate.

7. If such a motion is carried, it permanently suspends all further consideration of the main question and subsidiary motions relating to it.

8. If such a motion is defeated, consideration of the measure may be resumed at the point of proceedings when it was interrupted.

Privileged Questions

1. Privileged questions, as noted below, possess more importance than all other motions or questions under discussion.

2. Some of them are debatable and others are not. The following is their order of precedence:

First. - To fix the time to which the meeting shall adjourn - not debatable.

Second. - To adjourn - not debatable.

Third. - Relating to the rights and privileges of the assembly, or any member of it - debatable.

Fourth. - Call for the order of the day - not debatable.

3. Any of these may be reconsidered after a vote.


1. A quorum is a specified number of members of any deliberative body required to be present before a session can be held.

2. This number is fixed in different bodies in various countries, but, if not otherwise agreed upon, a majority is sufficient to organize.

3. Unless a quorum is present when the meeting proceeds to business, its proceedings are not usually deemed legal or authori tative.

4. A wise chairman will refuse to preside unless a quorum is present. Should he take the chair, all he can do is to order the roll called and declare the meeting adjourned if a quorum does not respond. The fact that the necessary number of members to constitute a quorum in a legislative body are in the room does not form a quorum, unless' they answer to their names when the roll is called.

5. While the chair may allow, if no quorum is present, the discussion of the business first in order, in preference to adjourning, no vote, except to adjourn, can be taken.

6. If there i6 a quorum present when the session begins, and the members gradually absent themselves until less than a quorum remains, unless some one objects a debate can proceed, but no questions can be decided.

Right To The Floor

1. A member desiring to speak upon some pertinent subject, to present a petition or other document to the assembly, or to correct a statement, must rise in his place, uncovered, and call out "Mr. President," "Mr. Chairman," or whatever title the presiding officer bears. Two or three members may do this at the same moment, and it is the duty of the presiding officer to announce the name of the first whose voice he heard. This is the 6ignal for the others to sit quietly down until another opportunity occurs. The member whose name has been pronounced has the floor for the time being.

2. If the decision of the chair is not satisfactory to a majority of the members, one of them rises to a point of order, states the fact, and, on motion, the matter is carried by a vote as to whom the floor belongs.

3. The mover of a measure which has been seconded, and is fairly before the meeting for debate, is customarily allowed to make the first speech upon it.

4. If any member having the floor yields it, in courtesy, to ano;her, it is a disputed question whether the first can again claim it after the second has finished his remarks. The first is generally conceded the floor again, but strict parliamentary discipline does not favor it.

Reconsideration Of A Vote

1. A vote to adjourn cannot be reconsidered.

2. A vote to reconsider a past vote brings the original measure or motion again before the assembly.

3. The vote to reconsider may be argued with the original motion, but cannot be amended, nor can it, after the ballot, be reconsidered again.

4. A majority in favor of reconsidering a past vote opens the main question to general discussion.


1. A motion to recommit a measure to a committee may be debated, amended, or reconsidered.

2. Opens the main question to debate.

Suspension Of Rules Of Order

1. A motion to suspend the rules cannot be debated or amended, under special rules may require a two-thirds vote to adopt it, and the vote, either for or against the motion, cannot be reconsidered.

2. If the motion to suspend the rules is defeated, it cannot be renewed for the same purpose until after one adjournment has been made.

3. The motion to suspend the rules must state its object - usually some business which the rules do not allow members to act upon at certain stages of legislation.

4. If any member infringes a rule of order it is the right of any other member to take notice thereof and to insist that the rule be enforced. In that case the rule should be enforced by the chairman without delay. When a member has called another to order it is then too late to suspend, to alter, or repeal the rule. It must be enforced.


1. Is classed as an amendment, and is governed by the same general rules of order.

2. Cannot be received while an amendment to an amendment is pending.

3. May be directly opposite in spirit to original motion, of which, until disposed of, it takes the place in discussion.

4. Must be seconded and stated by the chairman before being voted upon.

5. Debate must be confined to its merits.

6. It can be amended once, but an amendment to it cannot be amended.

7. By amendment a substitute can be referred to a proper committee for deliberation and report.

8. On motion, the vote upon a substitute can be reconsidered.

Withdrawing A Motion

1. A motion that has been received, seconded and discussed, cannot be withdrawn by the mover, without passing the ordeal of a vote, unless permission be obtained to do so, by a unanimous vocal consent of the assembly.

2. A motion once withdrawn is dead, so far as any further action is concerned.

3. A motion to withdraw cannot be debated, but may be amended, and a vote upon it may be reconsidered.

Recapitulation - Parliamentary Rules

The following is a Condensed Summary of Important Parliamentary Usage as Observed in the United States