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    SUBSIDIARY MOTIONS

    Under this head there are six motions, as follows: 1. To Lay on the Table; 2. The Previous Question; 3. To Postpone to a Certain Day; 4. To Commit; 5. To Amend; and 6. To Postpone Indefinitely. This is as important a class of motions as any in the whole list, and they should be thoroughly understood, as they are more frequently brought into requisition than any others in the transaction of the business of deliberative bodies.KSDPR 13.3

    1. TO LAY ON THE TABLE is the first of the subsidiary motions. The form of this motion is, “I move that the question lie on the table,” or, “I move that the question be laid on the table,” or, “I move to lay the question on the table.” When this motion is carried, the subject is removed till formally taken up.KSDPR 14.1

    To take up the matter again, the motion is, “to take the question from the table,” or, “to now consider the question,” naming the one which was tabled. This motion is undebatable, and can not have any subsidiary motion applied to it. The object of the motion to lay on the table, is to postpone the subject in such a way that it can be taken up at any time, which would not be the case with either a definite or an indefinite postponement. It is also a convenient way of suppressing the question altogether. Even after ordering the previous question, up to the moment of taking the last vote under it, it is in order to lay upon the table the question still before the assembly.KSDPR 14.2

    2. THE PREVIOUS QUESTION. - The perplexity which exists in many minds in reference to this motion is owing to a misapprehension of its nature and object. A little explanation will, we think, make all plain. This motion does not refer to any preceding question, but to the pending question lying back of the debate supposed to be in progress. It may be made when there is only one motion before the house awaiting decision; and in any case it always has reference only to the pending question. It is “previous” only in reference to debate before mentioned.KSDPR 14.3

    The object of this motion is to bring the assembly to a vote on the pending question without any further discussion. The form of the motion is, “I move the previous question.” This being seconded, the chairman immediately (for the motion admits of no debate) submits the question in this form: “Shall the main question be now put? All in favor of this motion, manifest it,” etc. If the motion fails, the discussion goes on as if the motion had not been made. If adopted, all debate ceases, and the chairman immediately puts to vote the pending question or questions, as the case may be. It can have no subsidiary motion applied to it, except “to lay on the table.” If the previous question is moved when the motion to amend is pending, its effect is to bring an immediate vote on the amendment, and then on the question to be amended; or if the motion to commit is pending, it brings a vote on that motion, and if that is lost, then on the question to be committed. If any one of these questions is reconsidered before the previous question is exhausted, it can not be debated; if afterward, the effect of the previous question having ceased, debate is again in order. If when several motions are before the house, the motion to postpone is made, the previous question is exhausted on this motion, and if the postponement is not carried, debate is resumed on the pending motions. This rule was established by the practise of Congress in 1860. The previous question is also exhausted on a question of privilege, and this being decided, the consideration of the subject interrupted by it is resumed.KSDPR 15.1

    When several motions are before the house, the previous question may be confined to one, if so specified. For instance, it may be limited to an amendment, or to an amendment of an amendment. But when no limitation is expressed, it takes the course mentioned above. A member may offer a resolution, and if he wishes to avoid all debate upon it, may move the previous question at the same time. When the previous question is carried, the member who introduced the motion to be voted on is entitled to the floor for a closing speech, which the chairman should assign to him accordingly. Mark well the rules in the Diagram which apply to this motion.KSDPR 16.1

    3. TO POSTPONE TO A CERTAIN DAY. - A subject postponed to a certain day, takes precedence, when the time arrives, of everything except Privileged Questions. Different questions postponed to different times, and not reached at the times specified, shall be taken up, when they are considered, in the order of the times to which they were postponed. A subject postponed to a time beyond the close of the session, should be postponed to the day of the next session, and then come up with unfinished business. If an adjourned meeting is desired to consider a special subject, the time to which to adjourn should first be fixed before postponing the subject to that day.KSDPR 16.2

    4. TO COMMIT. - The form of this motion is, “I move to refer the subject [naming the subject] to a committee.” It is usually a saving of time to include in the motion the number of which the committee shall consist, and how they shall be appointed; as, “a committee of three [more or less, as desired], to be appointed by the Chair.” If several committees are proposed; as, (1) a committee of the whole, (2) a standing committee, or (3) a select committee, they should be voted on in the order here given. Committees for action should consist of those only who are favorable to the proposed action; if for deliberation, it should represent all sides of the question.KSDPR 17.1

    5. TO AMEND. - An amendment may be inconsistent with one already adopted, or may conflict with the spirit of the original motion; but it must have a bearing upon the subject. Its form may be to “add” or “insert,” to “strike out,” to “strike out certain words and insert others,” to “substitute,” or to “divide the question.” To amend a Constitution or By-Laws usually requires a two-thirds vote and previous notice. If it is moved to amend a motion, and then it is moved to amend the amendment, the vote is first taken on the amendment of the amendment, then on the amendment as amended (if it was amended), then on the original motion as amended if the amendment of the motion was carried. In stating the question on amendments, the chairman should read, (1) the passage to be amended, (2) the words to be struck out or inserted, etc., and (3) the passage as it will read when amended. And when the vote is taken, he should immediately state the question still pending; as, “The question now recurs on the amendment as amended,” or on the motion as amended, as the case may be. In the table, the lines running from the rule “can not be amended,” show what motions can not be amended.KSDPR 17.2

    It sometimes seems to be the case that the adoption of an amendment is really the adoption of the original motion; hence some do not understand why, in such cases, the original motion should still be put after the amendment is adopted. The point may be made plain by an illustration: Suppose it is moved to appoint Mr. Mory a member of a committee. It is then moved to amend this motion by substituting the name of Mr. Maxwell for that of Mr. Mory. The amendment is adopted. Now is not that really electing Mr. Maxwell as a member of the committee? By no means. It is simply saying that if either of these men were to serve on the committee, the preference would be for Mr. Maxwell. But the assembly has not yet said that they wish Mr. Maxwell to serve on the committee. Hence the motion as amended, with the name of Maxwell for Mory, must be submitted, to ascertain if it is the will of the house that he should serve.KSDPR 18.1

    6. TO POSTPONE INDEFINITELY. - The relation of this motion to others, and the rules governing it, are sufficiently shown in the table. Its effect is to remove the question from before the assembly for that session.KSDPR 19.1

    PRINCIPAL MOTION, OR MAIN QUESTION. - This is the motion, as already stated, by which any subject is brought before the house for consideration. It should be in writing, if so requested by the chairman. It takes precedence of nothing except another principal motion; as another motion of this kind can not be made when any other question is before the house.KSDPR 19.2

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