Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
PARLIAMENTARY LAW. This term is commonly used to designate the formal rules, and precedents having the force of rules, which govern the proceedings of legislative bodies. In a larger sense parliamentary law is held to regulate the course of business in all deliberative assemblies, public meetings, societies, conventions, and voluntary organizations of every description. In countries where the principle of representative government is firmly established, nothing can be more important than a clearly defined, well-established, and firmly-adhered-to system of conducting legislative business in such manner as to preserve at once the equality and independence of the representatives and the rights of the people. It is also most important that the public business should proceed in an established order, and with as little interruption and delay from controversy upon side issues as possible. Yet the endless and oft-renewed discussions in congress and legislatures upon points of parliamentary order, or upon the proper way to proceed with the business in hand, attest at once the confusion of mind of the average legislator, and the indefiniteness of the parliamentary law itself. So far from constituting a systematic code, by which difficult or doubtful questions can be settled with precision, what parliamentary law we have is largely made up of rules subject to constant change, and of precedents liable to be reversed. "What is the law upon any subject," said an eminent lecturer on jurisprudence, "is hidden in the breasts of our judges, and can only be ascertained by experiment;" and the great uncertainty which attends the administration of the rules which are presumed to govern public bodies might lead one to conclude that what is parliamentary law upon any occasion is hidden in the breast of the speaker, or the president, or the moderator, or the chairman, and has little other force than his decision. While such decisions are at all times subject to the test of an appeal from the presiding officer to the assembly, experience shows that the time wasted in long debates often proves a more costly obstruction to the progress of public business than any supposed advantage in establishing a principle. It has been computed that almost one-third of the time of the annual sessions of congress, and nearly one-third of the pages of the costly and voluminous official record, are consumed upon points of order. In parliamentary bodies where there is no restriction upon debate, as in the senate, time enough has frequently been wasted in discussion whether to take up a certain measure to have fully debated the measure itself pro and con., and to have passed or to have rejected it besides. There are growing signs, in and out of congress, that the progress of public business will be more insisted upon than the right of unlimited utterance, or "the superstition of talk," which is an advertisement of the individual. Parliamentary action is very rarely affected by long speeches, or by sharp or finely-drawn distinctions of what may or may not be done under the rules. The loss of the precious and unreturning hours which should be given wholly to the well-considered legislation of a great people, in frivolous disputes over inadmissible motions and points of order, leaves so little time that the most important public measures are imperfectly discussed, hastily considered, and crudely framed into law, while the soul of the intelligent legislator is vexed continually, and the legislature itself is brought into contempt. Amid the mass of good and bad precedents, and of rules heaped upon rules, it is not strange to find that the business of direct legislation is hindered rather than helped. What the legislator requires, but does not find, is simplicity instead of intricacy, and an assured standard of appeal instead of a jumble of conflicting decisions. Equally important is it to the ready dispatch of business in conventions and public meetings that there should be a recognized code of procedure, as well as a firm, skillful and courteous presiding officer to enforce it.
—The origin of the great body of what is recognized as parliamentary law is directly traceable to the usages of the British parliament (treated in a preceding article). From the days of the anonymous "Order and Vsage of Keeping of the Parlements in England," by John Hooker, published at London in 1572, (the earliest publication on the subject of which we find record), to the latest edition of Sir Thomas Erskine May's elaborate "Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament," the English books are the fountains from which the American and in great part the continental treatises on the subject are drawn. It were greatly to be wished that along with the formal principles and precedents of the science (if so it can be called) we had also drawn from them one of the best features in the practice. Perhaps there is no element in the conduct of our legislative business more palpably a source of weakness than the fact that in the parliaments of America there is no responsibility for measures. In the house of commons, as in the legislative assemblies of nearly all European nations, the ministry are not only present, but are held to a direct responsibility. The party which has been for the time being intrusted with the conduct of the government, brings in its measures, supposed to be in consonance with the public will, and explains and defends them in debate. All appropriations (bills of supply) needed to carry on the government, and embracing the army, the navy and the civil service, are thus brought in and supported by able men familiar with all their details, because concerned in the administration of each department. Not only so, but most measures of the session demanded by public opinion, whether connected with parliamentary reform, education, public morals or the widely diversified interests of the United Kingdom at home or abroad, find in the ministry on the floor of parliament vigilant advocates, courting and not shunning debate, answering objections, and ready to take the responsibility of success, or the result of failure, which will consign them from their places of power to private life. How wide the difference in our American legislatures. There, no executive officer can be so much as questioned respecting the acts, the demands or the service of his department, except in the furtive obscurity of a committee room. The only responsibility for public measures which attaches anywhere resides in one or at most two committees of the house, overwhelmed with multifarious business, and utterly unable, though never so competent, to make themselves masters of the infinite detail of the bills they present, and give attention at the same time to other public business, and to the never-ending wants of their constituents. Candid confession comes from one baffled congress after another that under the existing practice no systematic law-making is possible. Instead of a well-digested, clear and easily administered body of laws, the statute book is filled with crudities and contradictions which those who administer them are unable to reconcile. It is some consolation, doubtless, to reflect, in presence of the 8,000 to 12,000 bills that do not become laws with which every congress is flooded, how much greater calamities we have escaped. What is true of congress is true in a modified sense of all the state legislatures: the mass of crude legislation which is irresponsibly gotten through, places before the executive a perilous task of arresting it by vigorous use of the veto power, or the perhaps still more perilous responsibility of approval.
—For the sake of greater clearness and facility of reference, the various subjects embraced under Parliamentary Law will here be treated in alphabetical order. Substantially the same course of proceeding here noted as prevailing in congress is followed in the legislatures of the several states of the Union, with many variations as to details, according to the rules adopted by each body.
—ABSENCE. The presence of members of the body is taken for granted in all representative assemblies, as due to their constituents. This can only be suspended by leave of absence, or employment in the service of the body. Absenteeism embarrasses business, and is unjust to other members, as well as to those represented; yet it sometimes goes so far in protracted sessions as to threaten the loss of a quorum. In congress, the constitution itself empowers less than a quorum to compel attendance of absentees; a rule of the house prohibits absence except from actual necessity or with leave; and no senator can be absent without leave first obtained. The statutes require deduction of salary pro rata for absence of a senator or representative, except for sickness of himself or family. In both houses, when votes by yeas and nays are recorded, the names of members absent (or not voting because paired) are published in the journal. In parliament leave of absence is usually given in case of domestic affliction or urgent business, but it is occasionally refused. In the French chambers absence is not allowed without leave of the body except in urgent cases, when the president may grant it. Requests for leave of absence are reported upon by a committee and announced by the president. The salary of deputies is stopped when absent without leave.
—ADJOURNMENT. A motion to adjourn takes precedence of all others. It may be made at any time (except when a member is speaking, or the house is voting) unless a motion to adjourn has just previously been negatived: it is not debatable, nor can it be amended. The unfinished business cut off by adjournment generally has precedence in the orders of the day; and this is an express rule of the house and senate. No adjournment for more than three days is permitted to either house of congress by the constitution, unless the other house concurs. If the houses disagree as to the time of adjournment, the president may adjourn them to such time as he thinks proper. In parliament the motion to adjourn is debatable, and may be amended as to time of adjournment. In the commons the speaker adjourns the house when a quorum is found wanting, and the fact is noted; but in both houses of congress business may proceed without a quorum by unanimous consent, or until the question of a quorum is raised by a division. After this no motion is in order except for a call of the house, or to adjourn. In the French chambers, before each day's adjournment, the president consults the chamber as to the day and hour of its next meeting, as well as the subjects to be considered.
—AMENDMENT. Any alteration proposed to a motion or to a bill is an amendment. Amendments are often proposed to defeat a proposition, as well as to promote its object. Amendments may be simply to strike out a portion, or to insert new matter, or to strike out, and insert in place of the matter stricken out. They are to be offered in the order of sequence, if the proposition being considered consists of several sections or paragraphs. It is not in order to refer back and amend parts which have been considered, after a latter part has been amended. Every amendment proposed is itself capable of amendment; but there can be no amendment in the third degree, i.e., of an amendment to an amendment. To accomplish such an object the mover should seek to have the amendment to the amendment rejected, then moving his amendment as an alternative, with due notice to the body of the intent to be accomplished. A rule of the house permits a third amendment by way of substitute, to which one amendment may be offered. Amendments once agreed to or rejected can not afterward be altered or amended. Motions to amend may be withdrawn or modified before the previous question is ordered, but not afterward; and amendments withdrawn may be offered again at a further stage of proceeding. Amendments in parliament need not be of the same subject matter with the proposition before the body. A member may move to substitute a wholly different proposition for the one moved, and such an amendment is to be voted upon. But in committee of the whole house this rule does not apply, the house being authorized only to consider the subject referred to it. In congress no amendment is to be admitted on a subject different from that under consideration. In amendments the form of words, and not their substance, is concerned; and as anything may be moved, the opponents of a motion often attempt its defeat by rendering a proposition absurd or obnoxious, or even reversing its substance, so that its supporters join with its opponents to defeat it. No amendment can be in order which contravenes the law or the standing or special orders of either house, or which is the same with any proposition already voted upon during the same sitting. An amendment to strike out is in this country put directly, but in parliament the speaker puts the question whether the words proposed to be stricken out shall stand as part of the question. If an amendment to leave out is passed, it is not in order to move to insert the words left out in the same place, but they may be moved in another place. The same rules apply as to amendments by insertion. Motions to amend, being properly considered previous to what it is proposed to amend, take precedence, and the question is first taken on the amendment; the same rule applies to an amendment of an amendment. Amendments moved by a member who has already spoken can not in parliament be introduced by a speech. In congress the opposite rule prevails. In congress no amendment to an appropriation bill is in order which increases expenditure or provides for expenditure not previously authorized by law, or which changes existing law. To the last an exception is made admitting amendments which are germane to the subject matter and at the same time retrench expenditure. In committee of the whole it is usual to limit debate upon proposed amendments to five minutes for each speaker; but the majority may at any moment close all debate upon any paragraph or pending amendment; whereupon further amendments may be offered, to be decided without debate. Any bill sent by one house to the other is subject to amendment in all its parts: when returned, the usual course is to disagree to the amendments as a whole or in part. If each house adheres to its disagreement, the bill or resolution is lost; but the differences are commonly adjusted by a committee of conference, whose report is usually accepted by both houses. No bill can be amended after the agreement of both houses. Amendments do not require a second in congress; in the house of commons every amendment must be proposed and seconded the same as an original motion. In the French chambers amendments are offered through the president, who refers them to the committee having similar measures in charge. They are printed, and their authors have the right to be heard before the committee.
—APPEAL. The presiding officer's decisions upon questions of order are made subject to an appeal to the assembly. It is optional with the chair to decide the point of order himself, or to submit it to the body. In the house of representatives the speaker must decide. If any member appeals from the decision of the chair the question is then put, "Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the body?" If the decision is not sustained, the chair is overruled by a majority of the members, and such a vote forms a precedent of some importance on similar questions. A motion to lay the appeal on the table, if carried, has the effect to sustain the decision of the chair. This motion can not be made in committee of the whole. Questions of order just decided on appeal can not be renewed. In parliament the speaker of the lords as well as of the commons refers most questions of order directly to the judgment of the house; the process of an appeal appears not to be provided for.
—APPROPRIATIONS. In parliament all bills granting supplies to carry on the government (money bills) must originate in the house of commons; and in 1678 this prerogative was carried so far as to exclude the lords from all power of amending bills of supply. This exclusive power has been jealously maintained by the commons for more than two centuries. In congress a similar claim for the house of representatives to originate all appropriation bills has been made, but not insisted on nor maintained; though the constitutional privilege of the house to originate all bills for raising revenue has always been jealously adhered to. The house committee on appropriations was first formed in 1865, to relieve the committee of ways and means of part of its too onerous duties. The senate committee on appropriations was organized in 1867, its functions having been previously vested in the committee of finance. In congress appropriation bills always have precedence, and may be reported at any time. They must be considered in committee of the whole house on the state of the Union. By one rule of the house and senate they must not embrace expenditures not previously authorized by law, nor provisions changing existing law: but such provisions are frequently incorporated by the committees reporting them. The yeas and nays must be recorded on their passage in the house, but not necessarily in the senate. After being considered and debated in committee of the whole, the bill is reported to the house for passage; but a separate vote is taken upon any clauses or amendments upon which any member claims the right to divide the house. In the French chambers the budget is in charge of a committee of thirty-three members, to whom are referred all matters of public revenue or expenditure.
—AYES AND NOES. (See
—BALLOT. Voting by ballot, while it preserves secrecy, is out of favor in legislative bodies, and the constitutions of eleven states require all votes taken in the legislature to be vivâ voce. In other states it is left to the legislature to regulate its own methods of voting. A rule of the house makes a majority of the votes given necessary to an election. When the house votes by ballot the speaker is required to vote. For many years past no vote by ballot has occurred in either house of congress, the speaker and the president pro tem. of the senate having been elected by vivâ voce votes. The other officers of each house are chosen by resolution by the controlling party, the minority usually proposing and voting for their own candidates by way of substitute. In parliament secret committees are usually chosen by ballot. The speaker of the commons is chosen upon motion and second by assent or informal vote, unless the house divides, when the usual count of votes is had. (See
—BAR. The bar of the house implies the railing in the rear of the outer seats of members. Formerly members were required to be within this bar in order to vote; now, a member may vote on a roll-call from any place within the hall. In counting the house he must be within the railing. In another sense, the bar of a legislative body is the area in front of the presiding officer; and offenders are brought to the bar to be examined, tried, admonished, reprimanded, imprisoned or discharged, as the case may be. The speaker appears, followed by the commons, at the bar of the house of lords on ceremonious occasions. Members of the commons not yet sworn must sit below the bar.
—BILLS. A bill is any proposed act of legislation, commencing with the formula, "Be it enacted," etc. Every Monday in the house of representatives the speaker must call the states and territories, through their members, for bills offered for printing and reference without debate. In the senate one day's notice for bringing in a bill is required, unless received by unanimous consent. Bills are referred at once to the committee to which by their subject matters they properly belong. Every bill must be read three times before its passage, the first and second readings by title, on introduction; the third reading in full, when put upon its passage, or by sections, when debated and amended. No bill can be amended by incorporating in it the substance of any other pending bill. Bills or resolutions may be reported at any time from six committees only: the committee on elections, on members right to seats; ways and means, on bills to raise revenue; appropriations, on general appropriation bills; printing, on printing for congress; accounts, on house expenditures; and enrolled bills, such bills as are enrolled. Other bills from committees must take their chance of being reported back when the committee is called in its order. Bills reported favorably by committees must go on the proper house calendar in the order so reported, and the senate has the same rule. The enacting clause of all bills must be uniform, thus "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled." Formerly every section of a bill, no matter how numerous, began with the words, "And be it further enacted"; but this tedious and useless verbiage was dispensed with in 1871, shortly before the statutes were codified, and no enacting words are now used in any section except the first. It is the right of every member to have a bill read through at each stage of its progress, though it is customarily, by unanimous consent, read only by title, except upon its passage, when a full reading is mandatory. After a bill has been read three times, the question is, "Shall the bill pass?" after which it is not amendable, although open to debate, unless the house at once seconds the demand for the previous question on its passage. When a bill is passed, the member in charge of it moves that the vote last taken be reconsidered, and that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. If the house votes aye, no reconsideration can take place, and the bill goes at once to the senate. In the senate the passage of bills involves no such formalities. All bills passed by the house must be certified by the clerk with his signature and the day of their passage, and conveyed by him or an assistant to the senate. While bills are on their passage between the two houses, they are on paper; after being passed by both houses they must be enrolled on parchment, and examined (compared or collated) by the joint committee on enrolled bills. Next, they are signed by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house, and presented to the president for his signature. Bills signed by the president are filed in the department of state, where they form the official acts of congress, from which the annual "Statutes at Large" are printed. The president notifies his approval with its date to the house in which the bill originated, and this appears in the journal. Any bill not returned by the president within ten days becomes a law by force of the constitution, unless congress adjourns meanwhile, in which case it does not become a law. (For bills failing to become laws through the president's objections, see Veto.) Bills passed in one house and rejected in the other must be notified to the former: they can not be renewed the same session without ten days' notice, and leave of two-thirds. A weekly statement of bills on the speaker's table, with dates and proceedings thereon, must be printed by the clerk. Of each bill offered 750 copies are printed, and many more are frequently ordered. Bills which are undisposed of in either house can be resumed and acted on at the next session of the same congress: but all bills die with the congress, unless they have gone through both houses and been approved by the president. Private bills are defined to be those for the benefit of individuals, companies, etc. Friday in each week is by rule of the house set apart for their consideration; and when reported from committees they are considered in committee of the whole. In parliament there is a radical distinction between public and private bills, which does not prevail in congress. By the standing orders all private bills, whether for the interest of individuals, corporations or localities, must be brought in by petition, and taken charge of by a parliamentary agent. (See
—BRIBERY. Any attempt to bribe a member is a breach of the privileges of the house. Several cases of lobbyists and others charged with bribery appear in the journals (See
—BUSINESS. In the lower house of congress there are four calendars of business: 1, a calendar of the whole house on the state of the Union, on which are placed all revenue and appropriation bills, 2, a house calendar, embracing all public bills not revenue or appropriation bills; 3, a calendar of the committee of the whole house, for all private bills; 4, a calendar of business on the speaker's table. Questions of the priority of business are decided by a majority without debate. The first business, after prayer by the chaplain, is the reading of the journal of the last day's sitting, then a call of states and territories (if on Monday) for bills and resolutions; and then a morning hour for reports from committees, called in order. After the morning hour devoted to reports, the unfinished business of the preceding session is in order; after unfinished business a motion to proceed to business on the speaker's table is in order, though seldom arrived at. After this, it is in order to go into committee of the whole house upon revenue or appropriation bills. Next in order is business on the house calendar. As it is always in order (after the morning hour) to go into committee for considering revenue or appropriation bills, there is small chance for other measures during most of the session, and thence comes an almost perpetual contest over the order of business. It requires a majority of two-thirds to suspend the rules apportioning the order in which business must be considered; and this majority is seldom obtained, because the rule forbids the speaker to entertain any motion to suspend the rules except on the first and third Mondays of each month, and during the last six days of a session. Special orders, however, are sometimes made in advance for given days, which take precedence of all except unfinished business and revenue and appropriation bills. The senate has a morning hour for presentation of messages from the president, the house, and other communications, petitions and memorials, reports of committees, and the introduction of bills and resolutions. During this hour no other business is in order except by unanimous consent. At its close unfinished business of the preceding session is first in order; second, any special order for the day; and third, the calendar in its order. This calendar must contain every bill and resolution reported from committees or on leave, and house bills and resolutions unreferred to committees. In parliament the public business is apportioned by reserving certain days for considering the orders of the day, and other days for original motions. The members are so numerous that the priority of those desiring to give notices on the same day is determined by ballot, the speaker drawing their names from a box; they are called out, when they rise and make their motions without debate. The right is reserved to place government orders (i.e., the measures of the ministry) at the head of the list on every order day except Wednesday. Friday's order of the day must be either bills of supply or ways and means. Wednesdays are set apart for bills promoted by members not connected with the government, except when the public business is pressing. Special orders are frequently made in advance, as in congress. The French chamber of deputies fixes the order of business for its next session before adjourning for the day; the order of the day thus fixed is posted in the hall, and published in the official journal. On the demand of any member the order of the day must have priority.
—BY-LAWS. In non-parliamentary bodies (as in societies or voluntary associations of any kind), the by-laws constitute the standing rules of the society. They usually follow the constitution, and are of great importance to the orderly transaction of business in its meetings. They should provide a rule for the suspension of them at the will of two-thirds or some other quota of the members.
—CALL. Calling the roll is required at the first meeting of each session of congress. This proceeds by states in their alphabetical order, and shows by the record in the journal who are present. The ordinary roll-call is in alphabetical order of members' names, and is required on every vote that is taken by yeas and nays, the clerk calling out the name, and members answering vivá voce. This call, with the delays arising from indistinctness, absences, changes and reading of the names on both sides, occupies some forty minutes in the United States house of representatives. Various schemes for abridging the enormous waste of time by the roll-call (which sometimes occupies half the hours of a sitting) have been devised: e.g., an annunciator with electric wires, the member touching a button at his desk, and the vote being recorded yea or nay instantaneously for the whole house. The house, however, has never countenanced any substitute for vivâ voce voting. The call of committees and of members from states for bills and resolutions is treated of under Business.
—CALL OF THE HOUSE. When no quorum is present, a call of the house is in order, which proceeds thus: the names of the members are called by the clerk, and the absentees noted; the doors are then closed, and the majority present orders absentees sent for and arrested wherever found, by officers appointed by the sergeant-at-arms; when absent members are produced, the speaker calls for their excuses at the bar, and the house determines upon what condition they shall be discharged from arrest. Scenes of great disorder and merriment sometimes occur during a call of the house. No motion is in order during the call except to adjourn, or that all further proceedings in the call be dispensed with: the last motion is usually made upon the appearance of a quorum. In the senate a call of senators must be made when the question of a quorum is raised. If no quorum is present, the majority may direct the sergeant-at-arms to request or to compel the attendance of absent senators; pending which, no debate and no motion except to adjourn is in order until a quorum appears.
—CENSURE. Members of a legislative body are liable to censure for transgressing the rules in speaking or otherwise. A vote to censure a member requires the speaker of the house to pronounce that such a member (calling him by name) has incurred the censure of the house. Votes of censure have not been infrequent, mainly for unseemly conduct or transgression of the rules of debate; and instances are not wanting where the speaker has been required to pronounce the censure of the house upon members who have been guilty of grave derelictions in their capacity of representatives. In parliament the speaker of the commons has been sometimes directed to reprimand or admonish persons at the bar who have offended against the dignity of the house. In the French chamber of deputies members are subject to censure of the chamber, who have refused to heed a call to order, or have been guilty of tumultuous conduct, or of menacing or insulting any of their fellow-members. Censure, coupled with exclusion from the hall for fifteen days, is pronounced against any deputy who has been guilty of any violence, or has resisted a simple censure, or has menaced any member of the government or the president of the republic. Both censures carry with them temporary forfeiture of the salary. In case of resistance by any deputy, or of tumult in the chamber, the president at once adjourns the session, and the public prosecutor is informed that an offense has been committed in the palace of the chamber of deputies.
—CHAIRMAN. The chair is usually filled by the speaker in the house and by the vice-president in the senate. The speaker has the right to call any member to preside if he desires to leave the chair, and this member is addressed as "Mr. Chairman"; but such substitution is limited to the day when made; except that in case of his illness he may appoint a chairman, with the approval of the house, for not more than ten days. In the absence of the speaker without making such an appointment, the house elects a speaker pro tempore, who is addressed as "Mr. Speaker." When the house goes into committee of the whole the speaker never presides, but designates a member, who is addressed as "Mr. Chairman." When the committee of the whole rises, which is done by motion, the speaker resumes the chair, and the chairman formally reports to him what progress has been made upon the business in hand. In the senate the chairman, who is elected to take the place of the vice-president as presiding officer, is known as the president pro tempore. Either officer may call any senator to occupy the chair, but only for the day or a less time at his pleasure. This substitute is still addressed as "Mr. President." The chairman of a committee is the first-named member thereon, by a rule of both houses. In his absence the next-named member acts as chairman. The great amount and importance of business prepared for legislative action by the committees renders the chairmanship an influential and much desired position.
—CHILTERN HUNDREDS. (See
—CLERK. At the beginning of each congress the house is called to order by the clerk of the last house, who continues in office until his successor is chosen. He then calls the roll of members, and decides all questions of order until the election of a speaker, subject to appeal to the house by any member. His successor is elected immediately after the choice of a speaker, by vivâ voce vote. The clerk must note all questions of order and decisions thereon; keep the journal of the house and print it, with an index; certify to the passage of all bills and resolutions; attest, by signature and seal of the house, writs, warrants and subpœnas; make all contracts regarding supplies or labor for the house; disburse and account for the contingent fund; appoint and pay the assistants in his office, keep the stationery accounts; and have charge of certain classes of documents for distribution. He has the custody of all bills, petitions and other papers pertaining to business before all committees of the house at the close of each congress, to be preserved in the files of his office. He must make a roll of representatives elect before the first meeting of each congress, placing on it only those whose credentials show them regularly elected. All messages from the house to the senate are conveyed by the clerk or one of his assistants.
—CL‘TURE. This term, recently adopted from the French, denotes the closing of debate, answering closely to the previous question, as it prevails in American assemblies. In parliament the previous question does not have the effect to suppress all further discussion of the main question. The want of any standing order enabling the majority of the house to close debate and secure the prompt passage of the ministerial measures, led to the protracted parliamentary contest of 1881-2, and the adoption of new rules for procedure in the house of commons. As introduced by Mr. Gladstone, Feb. 20, 1882, the procedure resolutions required the closing of debate by a bare majority approving the putting of the question by the speaker; but the question under discussion was not to be decided in the affirmative unless supported by 200 members or opposed by less than 40. This radical measure was the fruit of the obstructive tactics adopted by the Irish members in the long session, Jan. 6 to Aug. 7, 1881. Taking advantage of the rules of the house, designed to promote freedom of debate, about forty members successfully thwarted the majority, and for many months prevented legislation giving the government power to enforce the laws in Ireland. Several all-night sessions of the house, and one continuous sitting of forty-one and one-half hours, with scenes of great disorder, were the fruits of these obstructive tactics on the part of the home rule members. A series of motions to adjourn the debate, to adjourn the house, etc., were continually renewed in the endeavor to weary out the majority and delay the obnoxious Irish bill by adjournment of the house; but the majority, backed by the conservative party, who made common cause with the ministerialists, kept the house together by relays, and the debate went on day and night. At length the speaker took the decisive measure of arresting debate by putting the motion for leave to bring in the bill to suppress disorders in Ireland. This was carried, the Irish members leaving the house in a body. The bill reaching a second reading, the obstructions were renewed, and Mr Parnell and other members were "named" by the speaker for disregarding the authority of the chair. Resistance to the progress of business continuing, a motion for the expulsion for the day of thirty-one of the home rule party was carried; and, after four nights' debate, the first "urgency" resolution of Mr. Gladstone was carried, 359 to 56. This secured parliamentary progress, and the Irish bill was passed through both houses within a week, and received the royal assent March 2, 1881. At the next session of parliament (1882) the adoption of the clôture as a permanent standing order was carried after months of struggle and debate. An amendment that in no case should the clôture be enforced unless with the support of two-thirds of those present, was lost. The procedure resolutions were finally passed Dec. 1, 1882, and are to the following effect: 1, provides that the speaker or chairman may stop the debate at his discretion, if supported by more than 200 members; or if opposed by less than 40, and supported by more than 100; 2, provides that motions for adjournment for the discussion of a definite matter of urgent public importance, shall be entertained if forty members support it by rising up; 3, provides for limiting such debate to the subject in hand; 4, provides for the taking of divisions; 5, 6 and 7, are technical rules for the speaker's or chairman's guidance; 8, makes it a standing order that no opposed motion shall be taken after half-past twelve at night; 9, regulates the suspension of offending members; 10, gives the speaker or chairman the power to check attempts to secure delay by abuse of the rules; 11 and 12, are minor provisions; and 13 makes the first seven and last three resolutions into standing orders. In the French chamber of deputies, by Art. 108 of the Règlement, the president is to take the sense of the chamber before pronouncing the closing of debate. If the clôture is opposed, only a single speech against it is allowed. The clôture being once pronounced, no further debate is in order, with the single exception of remarks upon the state of the question.
—COMMITTEES. A committee is an officially constituted organ of a deliberative body to facilitate its business by examining questions, canvassing their merits by discussion, testimony, etc., digesting resolutions, or preparing bills for action, and reporting their conclusions to the body of which they are members. In societies, conventions and celiberative assemblies, it is the almost invariable practice that the presiding officer appoints all committees. The mover of any special committee is usually by courtesy appointed its chairman, although the selection both of committees and of chairmen is always within the power of the assembly. Committees are most important organs of a body to forward its business by intelligent and orderly procedure. In the house of representatives the speaker has the sole power of appointing committees. There are three kinds of committees in congress, viz., standing, select and joint, besides committees of conference, which are appointed for the occasion, to reconcile differences between the houses upon matters of legislation. The standing committees of the house are forty-seven in number, appointed at the commencement of each congress. Three of these are joint committees, the senate having a similar committee to act with them. They consist of from fifteen members each down to three, the greater number having eleven members. Select committees, ordered by the house from time to time to consider special subjects, consist of various numbers and do not hold over the session, unless specially authorized, while the standing committees are for the whole congress. In 1802 the house had only five standing committees of seven members each. The call of committees for reports is daily, except on the first and third Mondays of each month. All reports of committees must be in writing. They can sit during sessions of the house only by special leave. Committee rooms are provided in the capitol for their sessions, which are private unless they choose to admit spectators. Jefferson's Manual holds that the proceedings of a committee are not to be published, as they are of no force until confirmed by the house; but in modern days the enterprise of the press is adequate to spread before the public all that is of interest in the proceedings of every congressional committee. A committee is sometimes given the special power to send for persons and papers; also to hold sessions in any part of the country where investigation is desired. A majority of the committee constitutes a quorum for business. Each committee has a clerk, appointed by the chairman with the committee's approval, and a calendar of business. Any chairman of a committee has power by statute to administer oaths to witnesses. It is common to parcel out committee work involving examination among the individual members, or to refer various topics to sub-committees for report. Some committees meet daily, others weekly, others casually upon call of the chairman, according to the amount or importance of the business referred to them. The right of a committee to report at any time carries with it the right to consider the matter when reported; but all measures involving the raising or expending of money must be first considered in committee of the whole. The only exceptions to this rule are the committees on elections, printing, and accounts. A committee report may be made by the chairman or any one of its members; and he has the right both to open and close debate on the report. Minority reports in writing are usually printed and considered with the majority report. Questions of jurisdiction over certain business often arise between various committees, and are decided by the speaker or the house: the principle governing is, that the principal subject of the bill should control its reference. In the senate the standing committees (thirty-four in number) are appointed by ballot unless otherwise ordered. For many years past the ballot has been dispensed with, and the committees are elected each session (not for the whole congress, as in the house) on motion, the members being named in a body by the party in the majority, which has previously agreed to them in caucus. Special committees are frequently appointed by the president of the senate, who also appoints committees of conference. Reports from committees are to be called for during the morning hour next after the communications to the senate, and the offering of petitions and memorials. In parliament there are no standing committees except on accounts, standing orders, selection, and railway and canal bills, and these must be reappointed every session. Select committees are appointed in the lords by ballot or on motion. In the commons select committees (usually of fifteen members) are appointed vivâ voce on motion of any member naming them, although the house sometimes elects committees by ballot. The house orders in each case what number shall be a quorum of the committee, usually five members in the commons and three in the lords. The object of select committees is usually to take evidence, and power is given them to send for persons and papers. The presence of strangers is usually permitted in house committees, rarely in those of the lords. Their exclusion may be ordered at any time, and is enforced while the committee are deliberating. Secret committees are sometimes appointed, whose inquiries are conducted with closed doors, even members of the house being excluded. All evidence is taken in shorthand, and printed. Reports and resolutions reported by committees, by a standing order are laid upon the table. By a new usage, first in operation in 1883, "grand committees" have been created, selected for the purpose of giving measures mature consideration before they are presented to parliament for debate. This object has thus far been well answered, and the working power of the parliament increased. In the French chamber of deputies the most important committee is that on the budget. This consists of thirty-three members, and is charged with all legislation relating to receipts and expenditures. The chamber may refer to any committee any other propositions for legislation. No member can belong to more than two committees. One day in each week is customarily set apart for committee work.
—COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE. A committee of the whole is constituted of all the individual members of the body, and must be formed by an act of the house itself. In the senate there is no formal resolving into committee of the whole of the body, but simply a resolution that the business then pending shall be considered "as in committee of the whole." This is styled by Mr. Jefferson a quasi committee. The house having resolved to go into committee of the whole, the speaker must leave the chair, after appointing a chairman to preside. Business is taken up in the order of the calendar, appropriation and revenue bills having precedence. The committee must rise and the speaker resume the chair if a message to the house comes in, or a bill is objected to, or any other business occasion arises requiring the immediate attention of the house; after which the house goes again into committee. The rules provide that all matters relating to taxes or appropriations of money shall first be considered in a committee of the whole. The five-minute rule prevails in committee of the whole; i.e., any member is allowed five minutes to explain any amendment he may offer; after which one member is allowed to speak five minutes in opposing it, and there must be no further debate thereon. This is practically extended. however, by permitting an amendment to an amendment, so that many five-minute speeches may be made by pro formâ motions to amend by striking out the last word, etc. When debate runs too long, in the view of those having charge of the measure, the motion is often made that the committee rise; when the house is asked to close all debate upon the pending section; if carried, this cuts off all debate, but does not preclude further amendment. The previous question can not be put in committee, nor motions to reconsider, nor can the yeas and nays be taken, nor can motions, amendments or appeals be laid on the table. The members vote by three methods: 1, vivâ voce by the sound, aye or no; 2, by rising, and standing till they are counted on each side; 3, by passing between the tellers. When the matter under consideration in committee is finished, the committee rise, and the chairman reports to the speaker, "The committee of the whole house on the state of the Union having had under consideration (such a subject) have directed me to report the same with (or without) amendments." In parliament the chair is taken in committee of the whole by the chairman of the committee of ways and means in the commons, and by the chairman of committees appointed each session in the lords. The ordinary function of committees of the whole house is deliberation. Every public bill and all matters concerning religion, trade, revenue or the grant of public money must first be considered in committee of the whole. Members may speak more than once in committee, but not in the house.
—CONCURRENT RESOLUTION. This is a resolution adopted by both houses, chiefly on the subject of adjournment of the session. Unlike a joint resolution, it does not require the signature of the president.
—CONFERENCE. To adjust differences in the form or substance of a measure which has passed both houses, though in a different shape, committees of conference are appointed by the presiding officer. They consist usually of three members from each house, two of whom are of the majority party, or favorable to the measure. In all cases of disagreement, or when either house refuses to concur with amendments to any measure made by the other, a conference is moved. Reports of committees of conference must be signed by a majority of the committee of both houses, and are always in order. They must contain an explicit statement as to what effect the committee's report will have on the measure. If the conferees fail to agree (as often happens) they report to their respective houses, and a new committee (or the same) is again appointed. Three or four conferences, with as many committees, are sometimes required. The usual form of moving a conference is that the house (or senate) insist on its disagreement and ask for a conference: the alternative motion is, that the house recede from its amendments, or from its disagreement, and agree to the amendments of the other body. The senate has a rule that the question of consideration of conference reports shall be taken at once without debate. In parliament conference committees are more formal, and may be demanded by either house concerning the privileges of parliament, the course of proceeding and the bills or amendments passed by the other house. Each house appoints managers to represent it at the conference, and both houses are thus brought into direct intercourse with each other by deputations of their own members. Business is suspended in both houses of parliament during the sitting of conference committees. In the French corps legislatif, when the senate disagrees with the chamber of deputies, a committee of conference may be moved to agree upon a new form of law. If the conference report is rejected by the deputies, it is not in order to bring in a similar bill until two months have expired, except upon the initiative of the government.
—CONSENT. In the ordinary course of business at public meetings, and in some parliamentary bodies, business may be done by unanimous consent. The presiding officer puts the question: Is it the pleasure of the assembly that such a thing should be done? If no member dissents, he announces, "The chair hears no objection," and the thing is ordered without putting the question in any other form. If a single member objects, the chairman must put the question in the usual way by a motion and second. The introduction of any bill or resolution out of the regular order requires unanimous consent. It is customary for members to ask unanimous consent to withdraw papers from the files, to be excused from the house or from voting, to print remarks not actually delivered, to have a bill or motion taken up for present consideration, to have their time extended when speaking, etc. If no objection is made, the chair announces that the request is granted.
—CONSIDERATION. To raise the question of consideration is to endeavor to defeat a measure by bringing the house to vote whether they will consider it. It is too late to raise the question of consideration on any question after its discussion is actually begun.
—CONSTITUTION. In most societies or permanent voluntary organizations it is customary to adopt a constitution and by-laws for the government of the body. The constitution commonly sets forth the name and object of the organization, the qualifications and mode of electing members and officers, and the regulations for meetings. It also contains provision for its amendment through a vote of two-thirds or some other majority, after specified previous notice at a regular meeting.
—CONTESTED SEAT. (See
—CONVENTION, JOINT. A joint convention of the two houses is held only upon occasion of counting the electoral vote for president and vice-president. Formerly this assembly was regulated by a joint rule of the two houses, providing that the president of the senate should be their presiding officer, and prescribing details for counting the vote. This rule, however, was abolished in 1876, and there is now no rule upon the subject.
—DAY, LEGISLATIVE. For the purposes of legislation the congressional day begins at 12 o'clock M., or at such earlier hour as either house shall have adjourned to. It does not terminate until an adjournment is had; a recess merely to the next day does not end the legislative day then running. An adjournment does not necessarily take place at the beginning of Sunday; a majority may continue in session after that hour (as has frequently happened), but the journal bears the date of the day preceding (Saturday).
—DEADLOCK. This is a common phrase, which designates a stoppage of business in one house through obstructions by the minority; or, a deadlock in legislation may occur between the two houses, through party differences, when the majority in one is of different politics from that controlling the other. The latter are usually compromised by each house yielding something; the former sometimes lasts for days and nights, the party seeking to prevent the enactment of an obnoxious measure exhausting every parliamentary expedient by calls of the house, motions to adjourn, calling the yeas and nays, etc., on their motions, to defeat or weary out the majority.
—DEBATE. In all assemblies for the transaction of business it is essential that there should be rules to regulate and limit discussion. There are some rules which may be regarded as universal; as, 1, No debate is in order unless a motion of some kind is before the assembly. 2, Any one rising to debate must address the presiding officer, not the assembly; 3, By courtesy, the mover of any proposition is first entitled to the floor; 4, Debate must be confined to the question before the assembly. In the house of representatives a member rising must address "Mr. Speaker"; the speaker names the member who is first to speak (as "the gentleman from Maine," etc.). When several rise at once the member who first catches the speaker's eye is to be called upon. A member reporting a measure from a committee opens and closes the debate; no member can speak more than one hour without express leave of the house, or more than once to the same question unless he be the move of the matter pending, when he may speak in reply after all others choosing to do so have spoken. No debate is allowed after the previous question is ordered, except one speech from the member closing debate: it is common, however, for the member having an hour to close to yield a given amount of his time to several members. In both houses no debate is allowed on motions for adjournment or recess, or to lay any business upon the table, or to consider conference reports, to excuse from voting, or on questions of order arising after a motion for the previous question, or upon reference or priority of business. No member may call another by name in debate, or notice the views of the other house; both of these rules, however, are frequently violated. In the senate debate is without limit, unless a special order is made to curtail the length of speeches. No senator can interrupt another without his consent, or speak more than twice on the same question the same day without leave of the senate. Both houses have a rule that any member transgressing in debate the rules of the house, shall be called to order, when he must sit down, and can not proceed without leave, the exceptionable words being taken down. Senators must stand in their places when debating: but members of the house may speak from their seats, or from any part of the floor, or from the clerk's desk. In the house of lords a peer addresses the lords in general; in the commons the speaker is addressed. The reading of written speeches is not permitted in either house of parliament. A member may read extracts from documents, but must debate questions in the literal sense of that word, without reading manuscript remarks. In both houses of congress written speeches are practically rather the rule, and debate in the true sense the exception. While debating, members of the lords and commons remove their hats, resuming them upon concluding. Debate in the lords depends upon the will of the house; in the commons the speaker recognizes the member who rises first. As several members may frequently rise at once, the one that is first in his eye is called upon. Competition for the floor sometimes leads to a motion that another than the member called by the speaker be first heard. It has been sometimes charged that there was a "speaker's list," by which his recognition of members was governed, but this has never been admitted. The rule of one speech only from any member on the same question is strictly observed. No member can be called by name in either house; in the lords a member is referred to by his rank, as "the noble earl"; in the commons, by the place he represents, as "the honorable gentleman, the member for York." In the French chambers members speak from the tribune, and must first have obtained leave by addressing the president. A list of the deputies who desire to speak at any session is kept, in the order of their demand. In the discussions members speak alternately for and against a measure under consideration; a rule which does not prevail either in England or America. The ministers are to have the floor whenever they claim it, even if it interrupts the order of the regular list, but one of the opposition may always follow the speech of a minister. Disorder or clamor during a discussion is prohibited; if the chamber becomes noisy, and the president can not restore order, he puts on his hat, if the disorder continues he announces the session closed for an hour, at the end of which time the sitting is resumed; if the tumult breaks out again the president must adjourn the chamber to the next day.
—DIVISION. To call for a division is to test the sense of the assembly on the proposition before it. In the house a division is had by the members on each side of the question rising in their seats and being counted by the speaker, who announces the vote. If dissatisfied with the result, any member may call for tellers, or the yeas and nays may be called for. The division of a question, if demanded by any member, must be made before voting, if it include two or more distinct propositions. In parliament, if the vote by ayes and noes (vivâ voce) is not accepted, there is no division by rising and standing to be counted, but the house at once divides, those voting for the measure withdrawing to the lobby on the right of the house, and those opposed entering the left. Two tellers are appointed by the speaker for each party. As members the back into the house they are counted by the tellers, and their names recorded by the clerks. The result is announced from the chair, and alphabetical lists of the names are printed with the "votes and proceedings." No member can vote who was not in the house when the question was put; but a "division bell" is rung by the doorkeeper when the house is about to divide, which is heard through the neighboring rooms, and scattered members hasten to be present at the division before the doors are locked. The time allowed for this notice is two minutes, measured by a sand-glass; and when that has run out, the doors are closed, and the speaker must again put the question by ayes and noes, as by the rule no absentees on the first call could vote unless the question were again put. If the numbers on a division are equal, the speaker must give the casting vote in the commons; if there is a tie in the house of lords, the measure voted upon is lost. In the French chambers a division must be had on the call of any member. The vote is taken, 1. by rising; 2, by open ballot; 3, by secret ballot. The first method is in order upon all questions unless twenty members demand an open ballot or fifty a secret ballot; or when the rising vote, having been twice taken, is not decisive of the question; in this case any member may demand the ballot. The open ballot requires each member to be supplied with white tickets signifying a vote in the affirmative, and blue tickets the negative, on all of which his name is printed. Messengers present to each member an urn, in which he deposits his ballot: all the votes being collected, the urns are opened at the tribune; the secretaries count the ballots of each color, and the president announces the result. The secret ballot is taken by white and black balls, the white signifying the affirmative, and the black the negative. The members deposit the balls themselves in an run; the secretaries turn them out into a basket, count the black and white balls, and the result is proclaimed.
—DOORKEEPER. In some assemblies the sergeant-at-arms or his assistants discharge all the duties of a doorkeeper. In the house of representatives the office of doorkeeper is an important one, involving the care and responsibility of the chamber and apartments of the house and the public property therein, the superintendence of the document room and folding room of the house, and the appointment of many messengers, assistant doorkeepers and pages. During the sessions he announces at the door of the house all messages, furnishes members with printed documents, conveys messages, etc. He must enforce strictly the rules as to the privileges of the hall, and be responsible to the house for the conduct of his employés. In the senate the sergeant-at-arms appoints the doorkeeper and his assistants.
—ELECTIONS. In public assemblies the first business in order is always the election of officers. At any meeting which is not that of an organized body, it is usual for the assembly to be called to order by some volunteer member, who moves that Mr.——act as chairman of the meeting. The motion being seconded, the proposer calls for a vote by ayes and noes. If the voice of the former preponderates, he declares the motion carried, and calls Mr.——to the chair. The chairman, having taken his seat, announces the first business to be the election of a secretary, and calls for nominations, putting the question in the same manner for an expression of the sense of the meeting. Other officers may be elected in like manner, but a president and secretary are all which are usually necessary for a meeting. In the house of representatives the speaker, clerk, sergeant-at-arms, doorkeeper, postmaster and chaplain are elected by vivâ voce vote at the beginning of each congress. The election of members involves questions of the highest privilege, the constitution itself making each house the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members. The committee on elections in the house, and on privileges and elections in the senate, stand at the head of the list of committees. Contested elections of members, of which there are usually several in each congress, are carefully examined by these committees. The law provides that any contestant of an election of any representative must, within thirty days after the result is declared, notify the member whose seat he contests, of his intention and grounds of contest. The member must within thirty days answer the contestant in writing. Ninety days after this are allowed both sides for taking testimony. Witnesses may be examined or depositions taken at any place with due notice on both sides, the member and contestant appearing, either in person or by attorney, before any judge of a United States court, a state court of record, or a notary public, etc., who are by law competent to issue subpœnas and take record evidence in election cases. The testimony is taken in writing, and transmitted to the clerk of the house, by whose order it is usually printed. Contestants have the privilege of the floor pending a decision of their claim, and are usually heard in their own behalf before the vote is taken. Questions of the right of a member to his seat take precedence of all business. Large sums have frequently been voted to sitting members and to those contesting their seats for expenses incurred in the contest. The Revised Statutes (sec. 130) prohibit such payments to any person, but a subsequent statute of 1879 provides that thereafter no contestant or contestee for a seat in the house shall be paid more than $2,000 for such expenses, and that only upon sworn vouchers or receipts for money actually disbursed. The election of senators in each state must be made by the legislature chosen next preceding the expiration of the term of a senator. On the second Tuesday after organizing, each house must vote separately and vivâ voce for a senator. If any one has a majority in both houses he shall next day be declared duly elected senator in joint assembly of both houses. If no one has a majority the joint assembly must vote for senator (each member having one vote), and if no candidate receives a majority on the first day, the assembly must meet at 12 M. each succeeding day of the session, and take at least one vote, until a senator is elected. In parliament the practice in contested elections prevailing in this country was formerly in vogue, but the trial and determination of contests for seats by the whole house of commons grew into a great abuse through the notorious partisanism which almost invariably decided the case. This was reformed by the Grenville act of 1770, which selected by lot all committees for the trial of election petitions. This non-partisan method of selecting judges of parliamentary elections was maintained until 1868, when the jurisdiction of the house of commons in the trial of controverted elections was transferred by statute to the courts of law. Complaints of fraud in an election, or wrong returns of members, are tried by a judge within the district concerned, who certifies his determination to the speaker, which is final. If he reports that corrupt practices have prevailed at the election, a commission is sometimes appointed thereon. Corrupt constituencies have been repeatedly disfranchised by act of parliament. In France the chamber elects at each new organization a provisional president, and two vice-presidents, by ballot. The chamber is then divided by lot into eleven bureaus, who proceed to examine the election returns of all the members, by committees of five members chosen by lot. Report is then made to the chamber, which pronounces on the validity of the elections, and the president proclaims the list of regularly chosen deputies. By the French constitution each house is the sole judge of the eligibility and returns of its members. After the powers of a quorum or upward of the chamber have been verified, permanent officers are elected by ticket, viz., a president, four vice-presidents, eight secretaries and three questions (who have charge of the parliamentary expenditure), to serve during the entire session.
—ENGROSSED BILLS. An engrossed bill is a clean copy of the bill, with its amendments, put in proper form for the action of the house. When a bill has passed through all its stages, and the question is about to be taken on the third reading and passage, any member may call for the reading of the engrossed bill, and this may defeat the bill at that stage unless the motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill can be carried. An enrolled bill is a bill which has passed both houses and been enrolled on parchment, the engrossed bill being on paper.
—EXCUSE. All members must vote unless excused, and the motion for excuse must be put before roll-call and decided without debate. The excuses of absent members brought in under a call of the house may be accepted or held inadequate, at the pleasure of the house.
—EXPULSION. A member may be expelled by a vote of two-thirds in either house of congress. This is a constitutional provision, and has been several times exercised. More frequently resolutions to expel members guilty of grave misconduct have been lost, owing to lack of a two-thirds majority, or forestalled by the resignation of the offending member. The latter occurred in the case of Matteson and others whom the house was about to expel for corruption in railway land grants in 1853. (See
—EXPUNGING. On various occasion the action of a former legislative body has been rescinded by the passage of a resolution to expunge from the journals a previously adopted order or resolution. The most noted instance of this kind in congress was the passage by the senate, in 1837, of a resolution to expunge from the journal a resolution adopted by the senate in 1834, censuring President Jackson as having assumed power not conferred by the constitution and laws. In parliament entries in the journal have occasionally been ordered to be expunged, the most notable case being that affirming the incapacity of John Wilkes as a member, passed in 1769, and erased in 1782 in the manuscript journal of 1769. The printed journal, however, (though reprinted since), still contains the obnoxious resolution.
—FILES. The clerk of the house and the secretary of the senate have responsible charge of all files of papers, public and private, which accumulate in the course of the business of the respective houses. No memorial or other paper presented to either house can be withdrawn from the files without its leave, except for reference to a committee.
—FILIBUSTERING. This term has long been applied in America to the obstructive tactics and dilatory motions adopted by a minority to defer action upon a measure obnoxious to them. In the house this is done chiefly by the minority insisting upon the constitutional right to take the yeas and nays on every motion; then, by oft-repeated motions to adjourn, to adjourn to a fixed day, to reconsider, to lay on the table, etc., and by relays of members to raise points of order, parliamentary inquiries, etc., hours and sometimes days are consumed in the hope of wearying out the majority, or compelling them to compromise. In the senate, where there are few or no checks upon debate, a mild form of filibustering is employed by a well-organized minority taking the floor in succession and each speaking as long as possible. Measures have been thus defeated by consuming the whole time of a closing session.
—FLOOR. To obtain the floor is to be recognized by the presiding officer as having the right to make a motion or a speech. (See
—HOUR RULE. In the house of representatives, by a standing rule first adopted in 1847, no member can occupy more than one hour in debate on any question except the member reporting a measure from a committee, who has an additional hour to close the debate, if it extends beyond one day. No similar rule prevails in the senate or in the British parliament.
—IMPEACHMENT. This is a parliamentary power as old as the fourteenth century, and frequently exercised in early history, involving the highest judicial powers. Impeachment by the commons of high crimes beyond the reach of the law, and a trial by the house of lords, were invoked to defend the rights of Englishmen against corruption and oppression in office, whether executive or judicial. In modern times impeachment has been very rare. The direct responsibility of the highest officers to parliament, the limitations of prerogative, the settled administration of the law, and, more than all, the power of public opinion, have restrained those crimes which impeachments were devised to punish. Nevertheless, all persons, whether peers or commoners, may be impeached for high misdemeanors. The last trial of an impeachment in Great Britain, and the only one in the present century, was that of Lord Melvil in 1805. (See, for impeachments in
—JOINT COMMITTEES. (See
—JOINT CONVENTION. (See
—JOINT RESOLUTION. A joint resolution, like a public act or statute, is one which is passed by both houses and signed by the president. (See
—JOINT RULE. This is a rule adopted by both houses for the conduct of business between them. A series of fifteen joint rules was adopted as far back as 1790-94, and was in force (with occasional slight additions) until the 44th congress. The most important of these was the 22d joint rule, providing for the counting of the votes for president and vice-president in joint convention of the two houses. Jan. 20, 1876, the senate passed and sent to the house a concurrent resolution declaring that these joint rules previously in force, except the 22d, be adopted as the joint rules of the two houses for that session. The house took no action thereon, but, on Aug. 14, 1876, asked the senate to concur in a resolve suspending for the remainder of the session the 16th and 17th joint rules (forbidding the sending of bills from one house to the other in the last three days of the session, and presenting bills to the president on the last day of the session). The senate, in reply, passed a resolution, notifying the house that, as the house had not notified the senate of the adoption of the joint rules as proposed by the senate, there are no joint rules in force.
—JOURNAL. The constitution provides that each house shall keep and publish a journal of its proceedings. This is done by the clerk, through one of his assistants, known as the journal clerk, and each day's journal must be read on the meeting of the house on the succeeding legislative day. It records with great fullness the motions, votes, petitions, messages—in short, all proceedings in the house, except the debates. In reading the journal the record of petitions, names of members voting, resolutions and messages, are omitted by unanimous consent: even without these the journal often runs to great length. Errors in the journal may be corrected the next day.
—LEGISLATIVE DAY. This begins at 12 M. in congress, unless a different or earlier hour is fixed by either house for its meetings. It terminates with the adjournment, (a mere recess does not end it), but does not always coincide with the day as marked by the calendar. Thus, the legislative day which terminates the session of congress every other year is styled March 3 in the journals and proceedings, although it is actually March 4, from the hour of midnight to noon of this closing day.
—LOBBY and LOBBYING. (See
—LOG-ROLLING. This is a cant phrase, applied to a combination of members to aid each other's measures. The term comes from the business of securing lumber, or logging, where the loggers unite to help each other in the hard work of rolling the immense logs from the forest, where they are cut, to the water. Thus, one member of the legislative body says to others, "Vote for my bill, and I will vote for your bill," and this is called log-rolling.
—MACE. This is the traditional symbol of parliamentary power, as old as the sixteenth century. It is a large block of wood carved and gilt, and is borne before the speaker in the house of commons, when he enters or leaves the house, on the shoulder of the sergeant-at-arms. When he is in the chair, it is laid upon the table. (In the house of representatives the mace is set upright at the table of the sergeant-at-arms, at the speaker's right.) The mace now used in the house of commons is the identical one handed down from the accession of Charles II., 1660. There is no mace in the house of lords or in the senate. It is the time-honored emblem of popular sovereignty, in a legislative sense. The mace now used in the house dates from 1842 (although first introduced in 1789), and represents the Roman fasces, made of ebony sticks with silver bands, and small spears, terminating in a globe of silver, upon which is an eagle with half extended wings: the whole is about three feet in height. When the house is in committee of the whole the mace is removed.
—MAJORITY. The majority which carries any measure is held to be half the whole number of members of any assembly, plus one. Some constitutions require, to render an act valid, that it shall have been passed by a majority of those elected; but in both branches of congress a majority of the members present (if a quorum of the whole house) may pass any measure which is in order under the rules. It results that a law may be made by less than one-third of the senators and representatives elected. In fact, twenty senators and eighty-two representatives may, under the rules, pass the most important piece of legislation. The rule that a majority must be had to elect a speaker was suspended in the case of the obstinate struggle of 1855-6, when the house remained unorganized for many weeks, the division of parties being such that no one of three candidates could secure a majority. Finally, the deadlock was ended by the house adopting a resolution that a plurality of votes should elect, and Mr. Banks was chosen speaker. The rule that a majority is required to elect a senator in state legislatures is prescribed by the laws of the United States. In nearly all the states, however, the majority rule which formerly prevailed in the election of representatives in congress, and of state officers, has been supplanted by enactments that a plurality of votes shall elect.
—MEMBERS. Those are recognized as members of a parliamentary body whose credentials are regular, or who by unanimous consent are admitted as members without examination of credentials. Each house of congress is the sole judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members. The house consists of 325 members, since March 4, 1883. Members are to be elected on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every second year (the even years, 1884, 1886, etc.), except in any state where the constitution would have to be changed to alter its election day. In case of a vacancy in a member's seat, the governor of the state issues a writ of election to fill it. The clerk must put on the roll at the first meeting of any congress only those whose credentials show that they were regularly elected representatives. Members of the house must be twenty-five years of age, and senators must have attained the age of thirty. Members of the house can not be contractors, nor be interested in any government contract, nor be office holders, nor presidential electors, nor practitioners in the court of claims. Any subject is eligible to the house of commons who has reached the age of twenty-one, except clergymen, peers, bankrupts, contractors and certain officials. No member of parliament can be counsel before committees, nor a holder of office, except in the ministry. In France the members of the chamber of deputies may take part in the deliberations and votes before the validity of their elections is established. They wear a badge, consisting of the fasces of the republic, with a hand of justice, and a tri-colored sash.
—MEETING. A meeting of an assembly differs from a session. Thus, the house frequently takes a recess to meet at a later hour, and this terminates the meeting, or sitting, but the session is the same, and includes all the adjourned meetings.
—MESSAGE. Messages in congress imply either executive communications from the president (those from department officers are called "letters"), or from one branch of congress to the other. The president's annual message is sent in at the beginning of each session after he has been notified that the houses are organized and ready to receive any communication. Messages are usually sent in duplicate to both houses on the same day, unless in response to a call from one branch only, and are published in the journal and record. A message from one house to the other, borne by a clerk, is publicly announced at the door, and sent to the chair, the business or debate being temporarily suspended to have it announced, when it is laid on the table, and the proceedings are resumed. In parliament, messages from the crown are sent to both houses, under the royal sign-manual, by one of the ministers or an officer of the royal household, either of whom is a peer or a commoner. Such messages are always read at length by the lord chancellor or the speaker.
—MILEAGE. This allowance for traveling expenses to and from the seat of government prevails in congress, and in all the states except four or five. In congress it is twenty cents a mile each way for the session, or rather for the year. In the states, mileage varies from eight cents to twenty cents per mile.
—MONEY BILLS. (See
—MORNING HOUR. In each house of congress an hour is set apart for reports, motions and miscellaneous business. It begins, not at the opening of the session, but after the reading of the journal, and always takes precedence of unfinished business.
—MOTION. This term is applied to every proposition submitted by a member of a parliamentary body. In ordinary assemblies, motions made by any one require to be seconded by some other member, before being voted upon: but no second is required in either house of congress. Motions are here treated severally under their respective heads. Every motion must be reduced to writing on the demand of any member. If verbal, the presiding officer states it to the assembly; if in writing, it is read by the clerk. In the house, when a question is pending or under debate, no motion is in order but to adjourn, to fix a day to which the house shall adjourn, to take a recess, to lay on the table, to postpone to a day certain, to postpone indefinitely, to refer, to amend, or for the previous question. In the senate the same rule prevails, except that there is no previous question, and motions are in order to commit, or to proceed to the consideration of executive business. In both houses of parliament one day's notice of a proposed motion is required; but the notice may refer to a future day more remote than the day following. Motions must be seconded in the house of commons; but a seconder is not required in the lords. They must be carefully prepared in writing, and placed in the hands of the chair.
—OATH. Members of legislative bodies take an oath of qualification or of office. In congress all must take an oath (or affirmation, if objecting to being sworn) to support the constitution of the United States. The "ironclad oath," affirming that no aid has ever been given to rebellion against the United States, is taken by all who are not dispensed from it by sec. 1757 of the Revised Statutes. In parliament a single oath of allegiance to the crown has been substituted for oaths to maintain the Established church, etc., once required.
—OBJECTION. As no business can be considered in the house out of the regular order without unanimous consent, the right to object becomes very important, as one member can thus defeat or postpone a measure, unless two-thirds of the house can be had to suspend the rules. When in committee of the whole, if any bill or proposition is objected to, the committee must rise and report the objection to the house, which must decide without debate whether it is to be considered or laid aside.
—OFFICERS. The officers usually chosen in a public assembly are a president or chairman, clerk or secretary, and sometimes vice-presidents, and a sergeant-at-arms or doorkeeper. (See under each head.)
—OMNIBUS BILL. This term is applied in congress to a bill embracing numerous distinct objects, as in the bill "making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the government."
—ONE-HOUR RULE. (See
—ORDER. This may be said to be the first law of a public assembly, whether legislative or otherwise. The order of business is treated under Business. The order of the day is the regular routine prescribed in the rules, in which certain classes of business are to be considered. To call for the regular order, is to demand that the body desist from what may be proposed out of due order, and proceed to the next business prescribed by the rules. A special order is a subject set in advance for a particular time, and thus to be preferred to the established order of business. In both houses of congress this motion requires a two-thirds vote for its adoption, being virtually a suspension of the rules. A special order may be postponed by a majority vote. The unfinished business of the preceding session takes precedence of a special order. To preserve order is the implicit duty of the presiding officer, and he or any member may call to order members transgressing the rules. In case of a call to order, a member must immediately sit down unless permitted to explain: and the house must at once decide the case without debate. If in his favor, he is allowed to proceed, but not otherwise. If called to order for words spoken in debate, they must be taken down in writing, and read to the house. (See
—ORDERS, STANDING. (See
—PAIRS. The pairing of members in a legislative body is an agreement between two, who would vote on opposite sides of any question, to withhold their votes; such pairs leaving the result unaffected either way. One or both of the members paired may be absent. The rule in both houses of congress requires pairs to be announced after the roll-call, and the names paired published in the record. In parliament pairing prevails to a greater extent than in congress: members of opposite parties pairing with each other not only upon particular questions, but in cases of absenteeism for weeks and even months at a time. The system has never been recognized by parliamentary rules, though so long prevalent; in congress the first rule adopted which countenances pairing was in the 46th congress (1880).
—PAPERS. The reading of papers, if objected to, is determined by the house without debate. A member, however, has the right to read any paper as a part of his remarks. Papers of every description once offered can not be withdrawn from the files without special leave of the body.
—PERSONAL EXPLANATION. This is a member's request to be heard on some matter touching his personal record as a member, and requires unanimous consent. (See
—PETITION. Much time was once consumed by members in formally presenting petitions in open house. The rule now is, for members to deliver petitions to the clerk, indorsing their names and the specific reference (to a committee) desired. These minutes are entered upon the journal and published in the official record. In the senate they are still offered in open session during the morning hour. At the close of a congress, petitions and memorials go from committees to the permanent files, in charge of the clerk. In parliament, petitions must be written, and must have original signatures. They are presented in great numbers, and a standing order refers them without debate to the committee on public petitions. In the French chambers a brief of petitions is printed for the use of members, and they are referred to the committee on petitions, which classifies them, referring some to the minister of any department to whose business they belong, and others to the examination of the chamber. Each petitioner is advised of the disposition made. Any deputy may call for a report in public session upon any petition, and urgency may be demanded (if seconded by the chamber) for the consideration of any one. Every six months ministers distribute a printed report to the members, showing what action they have taken upon the petitions referred to them.
—POINT OF ORDER. (See
—PREAMBLE. The preamble of a bill or resolution is postponed until the other parts have been considered. When a separate vote on the preamble is not asked for, it is considered as adopted.
—PRESIDENT PRO TEM. In organizing a public assembly a temporary chairman is frequently chosen until a committee has reported officers for permanent organization. In the senate the president pro tempore is chosen to take the place of the vice-president as presiding officer; but this office is frequently left vacant for a time.
—PREVIOUS QUESTION. In congress this is a technical name for a motion that debate cease, and that the vote be taken immediately on the question under consideration. The motion for the previous question is not debatable, and can not be amended. The previous question was recognized in the first rules of the house in 1789, and could be demanded by five members. The present rules require a majority of the members present (if a quorum) to order the previous question. When a member calls for the previous question, the chair must immediately put the question, "Shall the main question be now put?" If adopted, the chair puts to vote the questions be fore the house in their order of precedence, till the main question, with all subsidiary ones, is disposed of. The previous question puts it in the power of a majority to close debate at any time. It does not prevail in the senate, where the public business is more at the mercy of individual senators. In parliament the previous question is wholly different in effect. It is an ingenious method of avoiding a vote upon any question proposed. Those who call for the previous question vote against the motion, not for it, as in the house of representatives. If the nays prevail, the speaker is prevented from putting the main question, as the majority have thus refused to allow it to be put. If the previous question is resolved in the affirmative, no further debate or amendment is allowed, and the main question must be voted on at once. In the French chambers the clóture of the debate is always in the control of a majority of the chamber. (See
—PRINTING. In congress all bills and joint resolutions must be printed after being offered; also reports of committees. A list of all reports required to be made to congress must be printed at the beginning of each session. The public printing of congress and the departments is regulated by the statutes in great detail.
—PRIVATE BILLS. The distinction between public and private bills is not closely defined, some bills including interests both public and private, and requiring the decision of the chair as to which class they belong. In congress, as in parliament, private bills are such as are for the interest of individuals, corporations or local bodies—as counties or cities. Bills relating to a state are held to be public bills. No private claim is in order upon any appropriation bill. Regular days are set apart to consider private bills reported favorably by committees. In parliament there is a carefully guarded system of maturing private bills, which saves a vast amount of legislative time and prevents abuses. (See
—PRIVILEGE. The privilege of a member of a legislative body rests upon the prerogative of his constituency to be always represented. The constitution itself provides that members shall not be questioned elsewhere for any speech or debate in either house, and shall be privileged from arrest during sessions, and in going and returning. Questions of privilege, by the rules of the house, have precedence of all others, except of adjournment; but the highest privilege attaches to questions affecting the rights of the house itself, maintaining its dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings. In maintaining what are known as their privileges, both house and senate have resorted to one or more of the following measures: 1, ordering the arrest of offenders; 2, directing the speaker to reprimand the party offending; 3, committing the party to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms within the capitol: 4, ordering a refractory witness or a person assaulting a member to be punished by imprisonment in the jail of the District of Columbia for three months: 5. (in the case of reporters) directing exclusion from the hall. The most frequent cases where either house seeks to protect its privilege by penalties are the refusals of witnesses to testify before its committees, and many recusant witnesses have been held in custody until the congress has expired (and with it the power to punish for contempt of its authority), or until a majority have voted to discharge the prisoner, or until he has consented to answer. When any proposition presents, in the opinion of the speaker, a question of privilege, he must entertain it in preference to other business, but it is well settled that the common plea of a question of privilege based upon a newspaper publication can not be maintained unless the member is assailed in his representative capacity. The fact that imprisonment or other punishment by vote of a legislative body contravenes the maxims of constitutional law, and asserts quasi-judicial powers, has rendered it obnoxious to public censure. The argument that the constitution confers no such power is met by the claim that it is inherent in the highest legislative body, essential to its power, dignity and proper functions, and has been repeatedly exercised, not only by both houses of congress, but by local legislatures. The supreme court of the United States, in some earlier cases, has upheld this power in congress, on the ground of right and necessity: but in the recent case of Kilbourne vs. Thompson the court held that the imprisonment of the former for refusal to divulge the private accounts of a company in a matter under investigation by the house of representatives, was illegal and unconstitutional. The plaintiff had been imprisoned forty-five days in the District jail as a recusant witness, by order of the house; and the speaker, and the sergeant-at-arms, with the members of the committee who ordered the matter to be brought before the house, were joined as defendants. In the case of the members, the court held that their constitutional privilege was a good defense to the action, as they took no part in the actual arrest and imprisonment. But it was held that the order of the house, declaring the witness guilty of contempt of its authority and ordering his imprisonment by the sergeant-at-arms, was void, and afforded the officer no protection in the suit brought by the witness. There was no power of the house to punish for contempt found in the constitution: and no authority to compel a witness to testify, where the subject-matter of the investigation was judicial, and not legislative, and was proceeding before the proper court. (103 U. S. Reports. 168.) In parliament, while many arbitrary measures have been aimed at persons held guilty of violating the privileges of that body, the right to commit for contempt has long been regarded with increasing jealousy, and has been questioned for more than two centuries, though maintained by the court of king's bench.
—QUALIFICATION. A member of congress is qualified to act in his representative capacity when his credentials have admitted him to the floor, and he has taken the oath of office. No man is disqualified from being a representative who is twenty five years of age, provided that he has been seven years a citizen of the United States, and was an inhabitant of the state in which he has been chosen. The qualifications of a senator are: 1. to have reached the age of thirty: 2, to have been nine years a citizen of the United States; 3, to have been when elected a resident of the state choosing him to represent it. A member of the house of commons need be but twenty-one years of age. (See
—QUESTION Putting the question is one of the most frequent duties of a presiding officer. It is to be put in this form: "As many as are in favor, say Aye": and after the affirmative vote is heard: "As many as are opposed, say No." The chair must clearly state the question on request of any member, before calling for the vote. Members when anxious for the progress of business, or impatient of debate, frequently cry, "Question! Question'" and this, though technically a violation of the rules of order, is seldom interfered with by a judicious presiding officer. In parliament there is a special practice of propounding questions to members of the ministry, concerning public measures or events. A question may be asked as to the intentions of the government, but not as to their opinions upon general matters of policy.
—QUORUM. Unless fixed by constitutional provision or by the law of the body, the quorum of an assembly is a majority of its duly qualified members. In congress less than a quorum may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absentees. In the house it requires the presence of at least fifteen members, to authorize a call of the house. The presence of a quorum is frequently assumed, and business proceeds in both house and senate when less than half the number of members are present; but this may be terminated by any member dividing the house, thus disclosing the want of a quorum: whereupon business must stop, and a call of the house (or senate) must be ordered. In parliament forty constitute a quorum in the commons, and three only in the lords. In the French chambers an absolute majority of the whole number of members is required to render any action valid.
—READING. The reading of papers called for may be stopped by the objection of any member, unless ordered by a vote of the house; but a member has the right to read a paper as part of his remarks within the limits of his privilege as to time.
—RECESS. This is a qualified form of adjournment; to take a recess to a definite hour usually serves the purpose of giving necessary rest and refreshment to the members of the body, without long interruption to their public duties. The motion for this is always in order, and not debatable. The term recess is also applied to the long interval between two annual sessions of congress: and powers are often granted to committees to sit during this recess.
—RECOMMITMENT. When committees report bills or resolutions digested by them, for action of the body, it is usual (unless the committee has privilege of immediate consideration) to recommit them to the committee. A rule of the house provides that no bill thus recommitted shall be brought back into the house on a motion to reconsider.
—RECONSIDERATION. In the house a motion to reconsider a vote once taken is to be made on the same day or the day after. It can be made only by a member who voted with the majority, if yeas and nays were taken; otherwise any member may move it. It takes precedence of all questions except adjournments and conference reports. The motion to reconsider is one of great importance, since if it prevails, the former action of the body is liable to be reversed. It is to prevent the possibility of this that the usage prevails for the member having charge of any measure, the moment it is passed, to move to reconsider the vote last taken, and also to move that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table; if the latter motion prevails it is deemed a finality, so far as the passage of the measure is concerned. A motion to reconsider can be applied to every question except to adjourn and to suspend the rules. It is debatable only when the question to be reconsidered was debatable, and then it opens up for discussion the entire subject. A reconsideration requires only a majority vote. In parliament a vote once taken can not be reconsidered.
—REFERENCE. This term is applied to the referring of bills, petitions, etc., to appropriate committees to be considered and reported upon.
—REGULAR ORDER. (See
—REPORT. Committees, having finished the consideration of any matter referred to them, must make a report to the body thereon, and this is usually required to be in writing. In congress most reports must be printed, though private bills or measures of pressing moment are sometimes acted upon with merely a written report or recommendation. In the senate, the committees must be called daily for reports, during the morning hour; in the house they are called daily, except on the first and third Mondays of each month. When made, they are usually printed and re-committed, or laid over. Reports from six important committees are in order at any time; others must wait their day, or a two-thirds majority, for consideration. Reports of executive departments are addressed to the speaker, or to the president of the senate, and are invariably referred and printed. Such reports on resolutions of inquiry must be made within one week. The reports of house and senate committees at each session make several bulky volumes, while the executive reports, both regular and special, make a great many more. In parliament the reports of special committees of the lords or commons are usually published with the evidence taken before them, and carefully indexed. In France committee reports are to be printed twenty-four hours at least before the bill to which they relate is considered.
—REPORTERS. The importance of full public information has led to special provision for reporters of the press in all public assemblies. Each house of congress has a corps of five official stenographers to take down the votes, proceedings and debates verbatim for publication the next day in the congressional record. Besides this, two reporters of the associated press are admitted on the floor of the house. The reporters' gallery over the chair in both houses is for the general press representatives, under regulations made by the chair. In parliament, according to ancient usage, all strangers, including reporters, might be excluded on the motion of any member, and reporters have been actually excluded as recently as in 1870 and 1878, to avoid publicity being given to debates. In the French chambers reporters are freely admitted to the galleries.
—RESIGNATION. In congress the resignation of any member is always considered his right; it was never contested until the 41st congress, when the speaker decided that the member had the right to resign, and an appeal from the decision was laid upon the table, thereby affirming it. The resignation of a senator or representative is addressed to the governor of the state; at the same time, it is customary for the member to notify the presiding officer, in writing, of the action he has taken. In parliament it is a professedly settled principle that a member can not relinquish his seat; to evade this restriction, a member wishing to retire accepts office under the crown; this legally vacates his seat, and obliges the house to order a new election. (See
—RESOLUTION. A resolution of an assembly is an expression of its opinion with respect to any matter, or a declaration of the purpose of the assembly: thus, the thanks of congress are presented by joint resolution of the two houses. A resolution of inquiry is passed by either house, requesting information from the executive. A simple resolution of one body, whether declaring opinion or otherwise, does not of course bind congress, and is not published in the statutes, but only in the journal and the record. Joint resolutions, on the contrary, have all the force of laws, and frequently contain appropriations of public money. Concurrent resolutions (chiefly providing for the printing of documents, etc.) appear in the statutes, but are not signed by the president. In the senate all resolutions, if objected to, must lie over one day. In parliament a simple resolution of either house has not the force of law. Every resolution reported by a committee may be amended, disagreed to, postponed or recommitted.
—REVENUE BILLS. All bills for raising revenue must, by the constitution, originate in the house of representatives, but the senate may amend them. In the house, bills relating to the tariff or internal revenue belong to the committee of ways and means; in the senate, to the committee on finance; and such bills may be reported at any time, the motion to consider them being always in order after morning hour. Notwithstanding the jealousy of the house of its prerogative in matters of revenue, the senate has exercised great powers in changing revenue bills; the latest and most extreme instance of this was in the tariff revision act of 1883, where the senate amended a small internal revenue reduction bill passed by the house, by adding to it a radical revision of the entire tariff system, and this, with some changes, was accepted by the house. In parliament, bills for raising revenue are called money bills, and are amendable by the lords if they do not alter the intention of the commons by increase or reduction, duration, or methods of raising the revenue.
—RIDERS. A rider to a bill implies tacking on to it, by motion, or the action of a committee, matters of legislation foreign to the subject of the bill itself. In parliament these riders are called "tacks." It has been a too common practice in congress to attach to regular appropriation bills, which must be passed under penalty of embarrassing the government, riders containing new legislation having nothing to do with the appropriations. This practice is resorted to, 1, to carry through a measure otherwise hopeless of being reached under the rules; 2, to effect the amendment or repeal of existing laws: 3, to force upon the other house, when opposed in political opinion, a measure obnoxious to it, and certain to be defeated by it as a separate bill. So far had this thrusting into appropriation bills of legislation foreign to their objects been carried, that the house adopted a rule that no provision in or amendment to any general appropriation bill shall be in order which changes existing law, except such as is germane and retrenches expenditures. Another rule prohibits the amendment of any bill or resolution by incorporating the substance of any other bill or resolution pending. Rule twenty-nine of the senate forbids amendments to be received which propose general legislation, which provide for a private claim, or which are not germane or relevant to the subject matter of the bill.
—RISE. In committee of the whole the motion that the committee rise is equivalent to the adjournment of its functions for the time being.
—ROLL. The roll of a public body is the list (in alphabetical order) of the officially qualified members. The roll-call is a clerical calling out of all the members' names, that they may answer either as present or as voting yea or nay. (See
—RULES. These are of the first importance as agencies for preserving order in the conduct of public business. In most assemblies for a temporary purpose it is usual either to adopt the rules of the house of representatives, or to permit the chairman to decide questions of order and precedence according to his understanding of parliamentary law. In permanently organized bodies the constitution and by-laws adopted form the leading rules which control action, though at all meetings appeal to a more comprehensive code of parliamentary law is often necessary. In the house of representatives the latest thorough revision of the rules was in 1880. This revision embraces forty-five separate rules divided into sections, the last of which provides that these shall be the rules of each congress unless otherwise ordered. Thomas Jefferson has the honor of having formulated, while vice-president, the first rules of parliamentary law ever put into systematic form in this country. The rules laid down in his "Manual of Parliamentary Practice" (first published in 1801) are still declared to govern the house where they are applicable, and not inconsistent with the standing rules adopted. Each house having constitutional power to determine the rules of its proceedings, those of the senate and house differ widely. A standing committee on rules exists in each body, of which in the house, the speaker forms one. Several notable struggles over the application or the radical change of the rules have occurred, one of which, in the 47th congress, drew a decision from the speaker that, as the right of the house to determine its rules was a constitutional one, the majority had at all times the power to make or to alter rules independently of the existing ones, and that no dilatory motions to obstruct their adoption or amendment could be entertained. The suspension of the rules is moved so as to make some business in order which would not be regularly so under the rules. This requires a vote of two-thirds of those present, and must be seconded by a majority, counted by tellers if demanded. This motion is debatable for thirty minutes only. It can be made only on the first and third Mondays of each month, or during the last six days of a session. The rules of the senate, as last revised, in 1877, are seventy-eight in number. No motion to modify or suspend a rule is in order except on one day's notice in writing; but any rule except the 18th (regulating the vote by yeas and nays) may be suspended by unanimous consent of the senate. In parliament the rules are called standing orders, which continue from one parliament to another until modified. The "sessional orders" are resolutions renewed from year to year, and are few in number. In the French chamber of deputies the rules are embodied in a code of 154 articles, which the president is required to maintain. Any appeal to the rules or question of order takes precedence of whatever business is in hand, and suspends debate.
—SCRUTIN DE LISTE. This signifies a vote by ticket, and is required in the French chambers in the election of vice-presidents, secretaries and questors.
—SEATS. Technically, the seat of a member is his function of representative; literally, it is the chair, desk or bench occupied by a member. The seats of senators and representatives in congress are arm-chairs, each provided with a writing desk. In the house they are drawn by lot, at the organization, every two years; in the senate they are "spoken for" or selected in advance when vacancies occur, by individual senators. In both, members of the same party sit together in general, the democrats occupying the seats to the right of the chair, and the republicans those to the left. In parliament and in the French chambers benches are used as seats, and no desks are tolerated.
—SECRET SESSION. In the senate, sessions for the consideration of executive business (nominations to office and treaties) are held with closed doors. These executive sessions may be moved at any stage of the open or legislative session, but are more commonly held just before final adjournment for the day. The chamber is then cleared of all persons except the secretary, four clerks, and the sergeant-at-arms and such of his assistants as the president deems necessary, all of whom must be sworn to secrecy. Any senator disclosing confidential proceedings of the senate is liable to expulsion, and any officer to dismissal and punishment for contempt. But though this is the rule, the practice is widely different; and the votes and speeches in secret session become known so speedily and so generally as to lead to the conclusion that an injunction of secrecy is a dead letter. To adopt a treaty laid before the senate by the executive the concurrence of two-thirds of the senators present is necessary. Nominations made by the president in executive session are referred to committees for consideration and report. No nomination to office can be confirmed on the day it is received or reported, except by unanimous consent. No extract from the executive journal (of secret proceedings of the senate) can be furnished, except by special order of the senate. All the sessions of the senate were secret until the 6th congress (1799), when that body voted to give them the publicity ever since maintained. Rule thirty of the house provides for secret sessions to receive confidential communications from the president, or at the instance of the speaker or any member who has communications which he believes ought to be kept secret for the present; but there has been no such instance for many years. In parliament, though the presence of the public is legally ignored, there are always a limited number of spectators in each house, except when (in rare instances) a member moves that strangers be excluded because of some debate which it is deemed expedient to keep secret.
—SECRETARY. Next to the presiding officer the most important organ of a public assembly is the secretary or clerk, these two terms being interchangeable, to denote the recording officer. He is to keep the record of proceedings (minutes or journal), and it is usual to have this record read and approved at the meeting next following that which it covers. This record should embrace every motion or resolution, whether adopted, amended, rejected, or otherwise disposed of. The secretary has the custody of all papers, and should keep an order of business, list of all committees, reports, votes, etc. The secretary of the senate performs the same duties as the clerk of the house of representatives (see
—SERGEANT-AT-ARMS. This officer represents the authority of the body to enforce its rules, and protect its dignity. In the house and senate he is an elective officer, and in the former body is charged with paying the salaries of members. He is required in both houses to attend the sittings of the body, to maintain order and decorum, to serve process and make arrests when ordered, to take absentees into custody upon a call of the house, and to make regulations to protect the capital and public property therein, including (in conjunction with the architect of the capitol) the appointment and control of the capitol police. In parliament the sergeant-at-arms of each house is appointed by the crown and for life. Besides similar duties to those defined above, he is a leading figure on state occasions.
—SESSION. This term denotes, 1, the time occupied by a sitting of the body after organizing for the day till adjournment; 2, the time spent in public business (usually several months), from the first convening of the members until their adjournment to the next session. Two annual sessions are usual in congress, although one or more extra sessions have been not infrequent, which are called "special sessions," to distinguish them from the annual. The annual sessions begin on the first Monday in December, and terminate on the fourth of March at noon every alternate year, i.e., the odd years, when the term of a congress expires. In the even years, when this limitation does not exist, the session continues from five to nine months. (See
—SPEAKER. This is the name of the presiding officer in each house of parliament, and in the house of representatives of the American congress. Being, as his title imports, the mouthpiece or organ of the body, the speaker is to express the will of the house. In congress he is elected vivâ voce, on the convening of each new congress, and the completion of the roll-call of members elect. Upon being chosen, he is usually installed in the chair by the members who were his rival candidates for the office; the oath is administered to him by the oldest member in continuous service, after which he swears in all the other members, before entering on any other business. He receives $8,000 salary; he succeeds to the presidency, in case of the office being vacant through failure to fill it by the president, vice-president or president of the senate. It is his duty to preserve order, state all questions, decide points of order, name members to speak, appoint all standing and select committees, sign all acts, joint resolutions and processes of the house, appoint its official reporters and stenographers of committees and have control of the hall, etc. The speaker has the right to vote as a member, but is not required to vote except in case of a tie, or when the house votes by ballot. If absent without having appointed a member to perform the duties of the chair (which power is limited to ten days), the house must elect a speaker pro tempore.
—SPECIAL ORDERS. (See
—STANDING ORDERS. (See
—STRIKING OUT. In the house a motion to strike out part of a bill, if lost, does not preclude a motion to strike out and insert. The motion to strike out and insert can not be divided. A motion to strike out the enacting clause of a bill has the effect to reject the bill, such motion takes precedence of a motion to amend.
—SUBSTITUTE. A substitute for an amendment in the second degree is in order, but can not be voted on until the original matter is perfected. Any committee may report a substitute for any bill referred to them, when the substitute alone is considered, and is treated as an original bill.
—SUNDAY. Both houses of congress sometimes sit on Sunday, when public business is pressing. In such cases it is usual to continue the journal as of the preceding day's date. In parliament four Sunday meetings of the body are recorded as occasioned by the demise of the crown, and on several other occasions debates have been continued into Sunday morning.
—SUPPLY. This is the technical term applied in parliament to all appropriations for the public service. The right of the commons to originate bills of supply is paramount, and the lords may not amend such bills except verbally. Sometimes the commons have tacked to bills of supply measures which by themselves would have been rejected by the lords; but this has been resisted by protest, by conference, and by rejection of the bills, and there is no recent instance of attempts to force the lords by putting "riders" on bills which the lords have no right to amend. (See
—SUSPENSION OF RULES. (See
—TABLE. In a public assembly the motion to lay any matter on the table takes precedence of all questions except those of privilege and adjournment. It is not debatable, and can not be amended. It does not imply the defeat of a measure, but simply removes it from consideration until it is voted to take it from the table. But in the house of representatives the usual purpose of the motion to lay on the table is to give a measure its death-blow, and when it prevails it is rarely taken up again during the session. If carried, the effect of the motion to table is to defer the principal question under consideration and all matters connected with it. In congress all business coming from the other house, or communications from government officers, are laid on the table unless referred to a committee or otherwise disposed of. A motion to lay upon the table is in order on the second and third reading of a bill. When a motion to reconsider is laid on the table the latter vote can not be reconsidered, and if carried, is held in both houses to be a final disposition of the motion. The business on the speaker's table implies, 1, executive communications; 2, messages from the senate, with bills passed or amended by them; 3, engrossed bills. Near the close of a session a great accumulation of bills, etc., in every stage of progress toward enactment, lies on the speaker's table, most of which usually remains undisposed of. In the senate all resolutions, reports of committees, and discharges of committees from the consideration of subjects, must lie on the table one day for consideration, unless otherwise determined by unanimous consent.
—TELLERS. By a rule of the house of representatives a vote must be taken by tellers if demanded by one-fifth of a quorum; or the speaker may appoint tellers if in doubt as to the vivâ voce or the rising vote. He must name a member from each side of the question to act as teller; these two meet in the middle aisle and shake hands; the chair requests all members voting in the affirmative to pass between the tellers, who count them, and report to the clerk's desk; those voting in the negative are next called to pass between the tellers; this count being reported, the chair declares the result. It is customary, when on a division less than half the house vote, for the speaker at once to order tellers. In parliament two tellers from each party are appointed to count the members when dividing the house. In the United States senate no vote is ever taken by tellers. (See
—TERRITORIES. The delegates from territories have seats and salaries in the house like other members, with the right to speak and participate in business by offering motions, etc., and (latterly) to be appointed on eight of the standing committees. They have no right to vote. The territories are called every Monday, after the states, for bills, memorials, etc., for reference.
—TIE VOTE. When the votes are equal in number on each side of any question, the general parliamentary rule is that the question is lost, but in the senate the vice-president has the casting or decisive vote in case of a tie; though in his absence the president pro tem., having already voted as a senator, can not decide the result as presiding officer, and if the votes are equal the question is lost. In the house the speaker is required to vote only when his vote would be decisive if counted; and in all cases of a tie vote the question is lost. In the house of lords the speaker votes as a peer, and has no casting vote as presiding officer. In the house of commons the speaker has the casting vote in case of a tie, but does not vote as a member.
—TWO-THIRDS VOTE. A majority of two-thirds is required in the house to suspend the rules, to dispense with the morning hour for call of committees, to dispense with private business on Fridays, or to pass in either house a bill vetoed by the president. The latter majority is construed to mean two-thirds of the members present, not of the whole number of members.
—UNANIMOUS CONSENT. (See
—VACANCY. Vacancies in the membership of assemblies can usually be filled in accordance with the vote of the majority of members. In congress senatorial vacancies are notified to the governor of the state, who, in the recess of the legislature, may fill the vacancy by appointment, pending the choice of a senator by the legislature when next convened. A vacancy in the house can be filled only by a new election by the people of the congressional district left without a representative. Vacancies in the house of commons are filled by election pursuant to a writ issued out of chancery by warrant from the speaker.
—VETO. In the congress of the United States and in most of the state legislatures any bill passed may be disapproved by the executive for reasons given. This veto may be overruled in congress by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting. In parliament, though the crown may legally veto any measure passed, the power has not been exercised for about two centuries (See
—VOTE. The sense of an assembly is declared by its votes. In most formal or informal meetings the chair is to put all questions to vote after inquiring if the assembly is ready for the question, in case it is a debatable one. There are various forms of taking a vote: 1, vivâ voce, by the chairman calling successively the ayes and the noes, and declaring the question carried or lost according to the preponderance of voices; 2, by a show of hands, each side in succession holding up the right hand and being counted; 3, by rising and standing until counted on either side. 4, by a count of members passing through tellers, those in favor of the measure going first, and those opposed after, the number of each side being reported by the tellers and declared by the chair; 5, by yeas and nays, where each member answers to the call of his name, and is registered in a formal record; 6, by ballot, or secret written vote—this is used chiefly in the election of officers or committees by the assembly itself. In the house a member has the right to change his vote before the result has been announced by the chair. Every member must vote on each question put, unless excused, or directly interested in the event of the question. The result of every vote, and the names voting on every roll-call, with the absentees, are published in the journal and in the congressional record. In parliament the votes and proceedings are printed and distributed daily. (For methods of voting in parliament, see Division; see also Ballot, Division, Tellers, Yeas and Nays.)
—WAYS AND MEANS. This term, borrowed from the British parliament, implies the government revenues and the methods or provisions for collection of the same. A committee of ways and means was first created in the house of representatives in 1789: it originally consisted of seven members: it became a standing committee in 1795. It has since been gradually increased to thirteen members. To it are referred all matters and proposed legislation relating to the revenue and the bonded debt of the United States. The committee of ways and means, having charge of the entire tariff system and internal revenue taxation, as well as of financial measures and the public debt, is a most important body, and its chairmanship is considered the highest office in the gift of the speaker. As the chancellor of the exchequer is the leader of the house of commons, the chairman of the committee of ways and means was formerly accounted the leader of the house of representatives; but since the withdrawal from that committee (in 1865) of all business relating to the expenditures of the government (which is assigned to the committee on appropriations), the ways and means committee has been shorn of much of its power, and its chairman of his prestige as leader. Still, these two committees engross between them the greater part of the time of congress; and in the alternate years, when the session is limited to three months, little other business has a chance of securing attention. To be a member of the committee of ways and means is regarded as a very high position, and commonly excuses those appointed to it from service on other committees. The committee of the senate having charge of the same subjects is styled the committee of finance, and was first organized in 1816. Measures reported by either of these committees are customarily privileged, i.e., to be considered before any others. In parliament the committee of ways and means is constituted directly after the annual opening, but, unlike the American usage, it is not a select or standing committee lasting through the life of the body, but a committee of the whole house; in other words, it is the house itself, presided over by a chairman instead of by the speaker. This official chairman is designated the chairman of the committee of ways and means, and also presides in the committee of supply, and over other committees of the whole house. Like the speaker, he is a salaried officer. The committee of ways and means determines in what manner the necessary funds shall be raised for the public service, as voted by the committee of supply. The most important occasion for which the committee of ways and means is required to sit, is, to receive the financial statement for the year from the chancellor of the exchequer. This is known as the budget. (See
—WITHDRAWAL. The right to withdraw a motion or a bill is secured by the rules at any time before a decision or amendment, except after the previous question has been seconded. All incidental questions fall with the withdrawal of the main question. (For withdrawal of papers, see
—WITNESSES. The summoning of witnesses to be examined by a committee requires an order of the house, unless the committee is first clothed with power to send for persons and papers. Witnesses are paid $2 a day, and five cents per mile of travel. Failure or refusal of a witness to appear or to testify is a breach of the privileges of the house; besides which the revised statutes make such refusal a misdemeanor punishable by fine and imprisonment. (R. S., sec. 102.) In parliament witnesses must answer on examination before committees, and are sworn at the bar of either house. Recusant witnesses are generally sent to Newgate. (See
—WRIT. This is a process of the house signed by the speaker, attested by the clerk under the seal of the house, and served by the sergeant-at-arms. In parliament the writs for the election of new members are issued by the speaker's warrant addressed to the clerk of the crown, and transmitted by him through the postoffice. Writs of summons for a parliament to meet are issued by the crown, under advice of the privy council. These writs must be issued at least thirty-five days before the time fixed for the convening of the new parliament.
—YEAS AND NAYS. The constitution requires that the yeas and nays of the members of either house shall be entered on the journals at the desire of one-fifth of those present; also that the vote on any bill vetoed by the president shall be recorded by yeas and nays. It is very common for members to demand a vote by yeas and nays, to make a record, or, when dissatisfied with the result of a division by other methods; but whenever less than one-fifth of the members present rise to second the call, the yeas and nays are refused. This vote can not be taken in committee of the whole house; the roll-call once begun can not be interrupted for any purpose. After the roll-call is completed, the names of members who have failed to answer must be called again; after which the full list of yeas and nays must be read, and errors or omissions announced by members corrected.
—In both houses members must answer without debate or reasons assigned for the vote. (See
—BIBLIOGRAPHY. May (Sir T. Erskine), Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, 8th ed., Lond., 1879; Cushing (L. S.), Lex Parliamentaria: The Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies, Boston, 1874; McDonald (W. J.), Constitution of the United States, Rules of the Senate, etc., Washington, 1881; Standing Rules for Conducting Business in the Senate of the United States, Washington, 1882; Digest and Manual of the Rules and Practice of the House of Representatives, compiled by H. H. Smith, 6th ed., Washington, 1883; Traité pratique du Droit parlementaire, par J. Poudra et E. Pierre, Paris, 1878; Jefferson (T.), Manual of Parliamentary Practice, New York, 1876; Fish (G. T.), American Manual of Parliamentary Law, New York, 1880; Göpp (C.), Leitfaden d. parlam. Geschäfts Ordnung, New York, 1871: Robinson (W. S.), Warrington's Manual for the Information of Officers and Members of Legislatures, Conventions, Societies, etc., Boston, 1875; Wilson (O. M.), Digest of Parliamentary Law, Philadelphia, 1869; Cushing (L. S.), Rules of Proceeding in Deliberative Assemblies, Boston, 1877; Barclay (J. M.) Constitution of the United States, Jefferson's Manual, and Barclay's Digest, Washington, 1873; Ferrall (S. A.), Exposition of the Law of Parliament, London, 1837; Hatsell (J.), Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons, 4 vols., London, 1818; Symonds (A.), Mechanics of Law Making, London, 1835; Smith (T.), Chairman and Speaker's Guide London, 1840; Clifford & Stephens, Private Bill Practice in Parliament, London, 1870; Webster's Members' Procedure Book in Parliament, London. 1868; Règlement de la Chambre des Députés, Paris, 1880; Robert (H. M.), Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, Chicago, 1876.
A. R. SPOFFORD.
Notes for this chapter
End of Notes
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