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monly carries, when no further debate can take place. There are but two motions that can take precedence; one is, to adjourn, and the other, to lay the bill on the table, and sometimes reconsideration. If however, no attempt should be made to embarrass the question, by any of the motions just mentioned, then the vote on the main question being carried, and the speaker, having announced that the question on the main question has been carried, rises and says, the main question the engrossing, or passing the bill, as the case may be, and then puts the question, “Gentlemen, as many as are in favour of the passage of the bill will please to say Aye. The contrary opinion will please to say No.” If the ayes have it, he will say so—if he doubts, he will say
“ The ayes appear to have it," and, if no division is then called for,
“ The ayes have it.” It is usual, in strongly contested cases, to call the yeas and nays on the question; one-fifth being always ready to demand them.
With reference to the previous questionThe old practice used to be, after the previous question had been ordered, to make one more attempt at delay, by moving a call of the house; the call having the preference over the previous ques. tion. This inconvenience being frequently felt, the house, in the 38th rule, has declared, that af. ter the previous question has been seconded, that a call of the house should not be allowed.
The rule now under discussion, never gave any preference to a call of the house over the previous question; but the speaker some years ago decided, and the house sustained the decision, that it was an
incidental question, connected with the organization of the house, that entitled it to be called after the previous question had been ordered. A call is now allowed prior to the majority having seconded the previous question. It may be proper here to remark, that all questions of order take precedence, and must be disposed of as they arrive. The house may adjourn over points of order, for time to consider, but the bill or proposition out of which it arises, ought also to be postponed with it. Sometimes it is found expedient to lay a question of or. der upon the table, and proceed with the subject out of which it grew. This is a high exercise of power, but it has been so long in use, that it is now established as the parliamentary law of this country. The true idea of order is, that the inci. dent cannot be separated from the main question; but putting it on the table is equivalent, in the eyes of most members, to an indefinite postponement of it, and in that light they consider that they have decided the point of order, in as tender a manner as could well be devised. For, deciding that they will not consider it at the only time when it can have
upon the question, is in fact disposing of it absolutely.
“To postpone to a day certain,” takes the precedence of a motion “ to postpone indefinitely.” In motions to postpone to a day certain, they fre. quently make it so late in the session, as abso. lutely to destroy the bill, which after all is very near akin to a motion “to postpone indefinitely."
“ To commit or to amend," precedes the “in. definite postponement,” because, by commitment it may be so amended, as to preclude the necessity of an indefinite postponement. Indefinite postponement is last in the order of privileged motions in the 34th rule. The concluding paragraph is worthy of notice: “A motion to strike out the enacting words of a bill, shall have precedence of a motion to amend, and if carried shall be considered as equivalent to its rejection.” Hatsell says you may amend first. I am not, however, sure, that it is not just as convenient, because a member may state, in case they do not strike out the enacting words of a bill, that he will offer amendments, which he can suggest by way of argument, before the question of striking out is taken.
Rule 44. When a motion has been once made, and carried in the affirmative or negative, it shall be in order for any member of the majority to move for the reconsideration thereof, on the same or the succeeding day; and such motion shall take precedence of all other questions, except a motion to adjourn.
This motion, it will be seen, for nearly two days takes precedence of all motions, except adjournment. When I first entered congress, it was so nice a matter to know when you might be permitted by the chair to reconsider, that it was deemed expedient to give it the preference it now enjoys. Voting for a measure, merely to get the chance of reconsidering, is not within the meaning of the rule. They sometimes make the motion, and then postpone it. There is but one way, if it is intended for delay, to avoid the difficulty, and that is, to call the previous question, and decide it at once.
It seems an unjust exposition of the rule, to hang a bill up for a week, because an opponent votes for it, that he may have another thrust at it upon reconsideration. Perhaps, under all the circumstances, the previous question is justly applicable to such a motion.
The speaker appoints all committees, except such as are chosen by ballot. He names a majority usually of his own side, unless on unimportant committees. The first-named member is the chairman, of course, unless otherwise directed by the committee. It is in their power, it is true, to select their own chairman, but a majority being appointed, of the same caste with the first named, he can always be elected, if he desire it,
Standing committees, unconnected with politi. cal questions, are, after all, much better than what are called select committees. They are usually selected on account of their kind feeling towards the object referred to them. A standing com. mittee looks at a subject with an investigating eye; they need not be for a subject, nor against it; but in that just position that enables them fairly to examine it. I know it is said that gentlemen, friendly to a subject, should be appointed on it. If that was the invariable rule, committees would be utterly useless, as they would always
Teport favourably, and no one would have any faith in their reports.
In the house of representatives of the United States, a report of a standing committee is properly estimated by the members generally. Chosen as they are, at the opening of the session, they have no bias on their minds for or against many of the measures committed to them. With the exception of political questions, I should rely with great confidence on the report of a standing committee. They keep regular minutes of their proceedings, record all their reports, and look back, for a series of years, for authorities, in making up their judgments upon any case; whereas a select committee is chosen for the particular occasion, and generally entrusts the report to the gentleman who presents the petition referred to them, and who is at the head of the select committee.
From the necessity of the case, congress must have great faith in its standing committees. The members cannot examine minutely and individually for themselves, every thing that may come before them; they therefore leave much, and I think with great propriety, to standing committees. Even new members have the old committee book of reports to guide them, and the experience of old members on the committees to refer them to what has been said and done before, on many subjects that yearly come before them.
CALL OF THE HOUSE.
Upon the call of the house, the name of the members are called over by the clerk; those who