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ber is transferred, which is usually the case, from one of our State Legislatures to congress, he should find himself tolerably well acquainted with his duties on his arrival at the chamber of the house of representatives. It is with this view, in some measure, that this work is printed. It may be of some advantage to new members there, and possibly not injurious to some of the seniors. Be that as it may, it will be a kind of guide to all who may meet in any deliberative body, and will in some measure tend to qualify them for a seat in congress.
Rule 34. When a question is under debate, no motion shall be received but to adjourn, to lie on the table, for the previous question, to postpone to a day certain, to commit or amend, to postpone indefinitely; which several motions shall have precedence in the order in which they are arranged ; and no motion to postpone to a day certain, to commit, or to postpone indefinitely, being decided, shall be again allowed on the same day, and at the same stage of the bill or proposition. 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 equivalent to its rejection.
This is a rule of frequent reference, and ought to be impressed upon the minds of members. “ According to order, a motion to lie on the table, shall take the precedence of all motions except adjournment.” A motion to lie on the table is one of the most usual modes of giving a proposition or bill its death blow. It is true, the subject may be taken up at another period in the session with
out resorting to the motion of reconsideration. This, however, seldom happens. A bill once fairly laid on the table by a respectable vote, has but little chance of coming to life again during the session. It is a kind of previous question device, as it precludes all debate; yet it has never had the opprobrium cast upon it that is attached to the previous question. It is, however, a very excellent motion in its place.
PREVIOUS QUESTION. The previous question is, of late, a strong feature in the legislation of congress, and is very frequently resorted to. Indeed, all prolonged debates are now brought to a close by sustaining the call. Originally it was intended to prevent debates upon delicate subjects, but now it is used to wind up a tedious debate.'
It requires a majority to second the demand for the previous question. In olden times, five members could force the question. It is, however, an engine of power which has been abused by all parties; but during my experience I have seen all sides ready to use it. It has grown, I think, into more repute, from the increased size of the house. Discussion in an assembly of 242 members, calls for some means of foreclosure. Whether this is the best mode is a question by no means conceded. It was started by Sir Harry Vane, in 1604, and looks likely to continue, at least till some new device be substituted in its place. There is, however, one species of relief left to the opposers of the question, and that is, if the question is ca. pable of division, a division may be had upon it. In the case of a resolution relative to appropriat. ing a portion of the public lands for education, colonization and internal improvement, the question was taken separately, but without debate. If an amendment should be pending at the time, the previous question is ordered, the amendment is cut off, and the main question only put. The previous question is at times called to cut off an amendment as well as to terminate further argu. ment on the proposition before the house.
To ascertain whether a majority has seconded the question, it is usual in all highly excited occasions, for the speaker to name, as tellers, two members, chosen one on each side of the question, to count and report the vote to the chair. If a majority seconds the call, or demand for the previous question, the speaker says: “The previous question having been demanded, and a majority of the house having sustained it, the question w:ll be, “ Shall the main question be now put ?" And then puts the question “Shall the main question be now put ?" Most frequently the yeas and nays are demanded on this question, and sustained. One-fifth of the members rising is sufficient, under the constitution, to sustain the call. The vote being taken by yeas and nays, it sometimes happens, that, from other members coming into the house, or a disinclination to offend a large number, or for some other cause, the question is lost. In this event the bill goes over to the next day, the failure of the vote being equivalent to a postponement till the next day. The question most com
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