Table (parliamentary procedure)

In parliamentary procedure, a motion to table has two different and contradictory meanings:

  • In the United States, table usually means the motion to lay on the table or motion to postpone consideration; a proposal to suspend consideration of a pending motion. Much less often, it means a motion to "put on the table": a proposal to begin consideration -- a usage consistent with the rest of the English-speaking world.
  • In the United Kingdom and the rest of the English-speaking world, table means a motion to place upon the table (or motion to place on the table): a proposal to begin consideration of a proposal.

Contents

Use in the United States

Lay on the table (RONR)
Class Subsidiary motion
In order when another has the floor? No
Requires second? Yes
Debatable? No
May be reconsidered? Negative vote only
Amendable? No
Vote required: Majority

In United States parliamentary practice, two phrases are used "Lay on table" and "To put on the table", which have opposite meaning. Approval of the subsidiary motion to 'lay on the table' immediately sets aside the pending main motion and all pending subsidiary motions. The motion is not debatable. Beyond these characteristics, the purpose and effect of the motion to table vary according to which parliamentary authority is being used. The motion requires a majority vote except as indicated below. To "put on the table" means to make the issue available for debate [1] as in "President is prepared to put on the table" [2]

The use of terms such as "tabling a motion" in connection with setting aside or killing a main motion sometimes causes confusion with the usage of this term in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, where it has an opposite meaning—that is, to propose a motion for consideration.

Under Robert's Rules of Order, the subsidiary motion to table is, properly, used only when it is necessary to suspend consideration of a main motion in order to deal with another matter that has come up unexpectedly and which must be dealt with before the pending motion can be properly addressed.[3] It has, however, become common to misuse the motion to end consideration of the pending main motion without debate, or to mistakenly assume that its adoption prevents further consideration of the main motion at all, or until a specified time.

A main motion that has been laid on the table may be taken up again by adoption of a motion to take from the table. This motion is not debatable, and requires a majority for adoption. A motion may be taken from the table only until the end of the next session (commonly, the next meeting) after the one in which it was laid on the table, if that session occurs within a quarterly time interval (three months and until the end of the calendar month in which the three-month period ends) after the session in which it was laid on the table; if there is no session within that time, the motion may only be taken from the table during the current session. If these time limits are not met, the motion dies.

Robert's states that the use of the motion to "table" to kill a motion is improper because a majority vote should not be sufficient to permanently cut off debate on a main motion. Robert's recommends that a member seeking to avoid a direct vote on a main motion while immediately cutting off debate instead make a motion that requires a two-third vote: Either an objection to consideration of the question, which is in order only before debate has begun and requires a two-thirds vote to block further consideration of the main motion, or a motion to postpone indefinitely (in order at any time, majority vote required) followed by an immediate motion for the previous question (two-thirds vote required.) One of the disadvantages of trying to kill a measure by laying it on the table is that, if some opponents of the measure subsequently leave the meeting, a temporary majority favoring the measure can then take it from the table and act on it; or they may do so at a future session held within the next quarterly time interval.[4]

Congressional use

In both houses of the United States Congress, the motion to table is used to kill a motion without debate or a vote on the merits of the resolution.[5] The rules do not provide for taking the motion from the table, and therefore consideration of the motion may be resumed only by a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules.[6]

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised and Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure

Under Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), the subsidiary motion "to table" does not exist. The two motions with the word "table" included are the motion to "lay on the table" which is to set aside temporarily while another matter that has arisen is discussed, after which intervening matter is disposed of, the motion that was "laid on the table" may be renewed by the motion to "take from the table" or not as the assembly sees fit. The question or matter laid on the table is not permanently disposed of, and there are specific rules regarding adhering motions or pending points of order etc. which are determined by the parliamentary situation at the time the question was laid on the table. The motion to "lay on the table" is properly used only when it is necessary to suspend consideration of a main motion in order to deal with another matter that has come up unexpectedly and which must be dealt with before the pending motion can be properly addressed.[7] It has, however, become common to misuse the motion to end consideration of the pending main motion without debate, or to mistakenly assume that its adoption prevents further consideration of the main motion at all, or until a specified time. There IS no motion "to table" in RONR.

Robert's Rules of Order states that the use of the motion to "table" to kill a motion is improper because a majority vote should not be sufficient to permanently cut off debate on a main motion. Robert's recommends that a member seeking to avoid a direct vote on a main motion while immediately cutting off debate instead make a motion that requires a two-third vote: Either an objection to consideration of the question (which is in order only before debate has begun and requires a two-thirds vote to block further consideration of the main motion) or a motion to postpone indefinitely (in order at any time, majority vote required) followed by an immediate motion to call the previous question (end debate and proceed to a vote on the motion), which two-thirds vote required. One of the disadvantages of trying to kill a measure by laying it on the table is that, if some opponents of the measure subsequently leave the meeting, a temporary majority favoring the measure can then take it from the table and act on it; or they may do so at a future session held within the next quarterly time interval.[8]

Although the motion is not debatable, the chair can ask the maker of the motion to state his reason in order to establish the urgency and legitimate intent of the motion, or the maker can state it on his own initiative.[9]

The motion to take from the table under Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure has the same characteristics as under RONR.[10] Mason's Manual has a similar-sounding motion, take from the desk which a member uses when they desire to take up a matter that is on the desk, but on which no action has yet been taken.[11] The differences between the two motions are that take from the table is used after an item has been placed on the desk by a previous use of lay on the table and the motion is given a preference over new main motions offered at the same time. Take from the desk is used when an item is taken up that has not yet been introduced and this motion has no preference over new main motions that may be made at the same time.[10]

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (TSC), 4th edition, the second-most-widely used parliamentary authority in the United States, approves of the motion to table either to temporarily set aside a main motion (in which case it is also called the motion to postpone temporarily, a motion not recognized in Robert's Rules) or to kill the main motion without a direct vote or further debate.

The Standard Code but also uses the short form, table, which is discouraged by Robert's Rules. TSC allows use of the motion to postpone temporarily (or table) to temporarily set aside a main motion in a purpose and manner similar to Robert's Rules. However, TSC also allows use of this motion to kill the main motion without a direct vote or further vote, a use which is expressly forbidden under Robert's Rules. The Standard Code states that if the motion to table is used in circumstances suggesting that the purpose is to kill the main motion, a two-thirds vote should be required. This provision addresses the objections stated in Robert's. Objection to consideration of a question and motion to postpone indefinitely are not recognized in the Standard Code.

Under the Standard Code, the motion to take from the table must be made prior to the end of the current session, unlike Robert's Rules, which permits the motion to be made prior to the end of the following session if one is held within a quarterly time interval. The preferred name of the motion to take from the table, under TSC, is the motion to resume consideration.

Related motions

Take from the table (RONR)
Class Motion that brings a question again before the assembly
In order when another has the floor? No
Requires second? Yes
Debatable? No
May be reconsidered? No
Amendable? No
Vote required: Majority

Under Robert's Rules, a main motion that has been laid on the table may be taken up again by adoption of a motion to take from the table. This motion is not debatable and requires a majority for adoption. A motion may be taken from the table only until the end of the next session (commonly, the next meeting) after the one in which it was laid on the table, if that session occurs within three months after the session in which it was laid on the table; if there is no session within those three months, the motion may only be taken from the table during the current session. If these time limits are not met, the motion dies.

The corresponding motion under The Standard Code is called a motion to resume consideration. This motion must be made prior to the end of the current session, unlike Robert's Rules, which permits the motion to take from the table to be made prior to the end of the following session if one is held within a quarterly time interval.

Use elsewhere

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom and other parliaments based on the Westminster system, to "table" a measure means to propose it for consideration, as in bringing it to the table. In his book The Second World War, Volume 3: The Grand Alliance, Winston Churchill relates the confusion that arose between American and British military leaders during the Second World War:

The enjoyment of a common language was of course a supreme advantage in all British and American discussions. ... The British Staff prepared a paper which they wished to raise as a matter of urgency, and informed their American colleagues that they wished to "table it." To the American Staff "tabling" a paper meant putting it away in a drawer and forgetting it. A long and even acrimonious argument ensued before both parties realized that they were agreed on the merits and wanted the same thing.

References

  1. ^ Transcript: of Nancy Pelosi interview at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,480468,00.html
  2. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-attend-copenhagen-climate-talks
  3. ^ Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th edition, pages 207-209, on Misuses of the motion.
  4. ^ RONR (10th ed.) p. 208
  5. ^ "Lay on the Table". Library of Congress. http://thomas.loc.gov/home/votes/table.html. 
  6. ^ RONR, p 207, footnote. This usage of the motion to table is necessary under the heavy workload of Congress, but is inappropriate in ordinary deliberative assemblies.
  7. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed., p. 207–209 (RONR)
  8. ^ RONR, p. 208
  9. ^ RONR, p. 203-204, 384
  10. ^ a b National Conference of State Legislatures (2000). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, p. 328
  11. ^ Mason, p. 330

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • parliamentary procedure — or rules of order Generally accepted rules, precedents, and practices used in the governance of deliberative assemblies. They are intended to maintain decorum, ascertain the will of the majority, preserve the rights of the minority, and… …   Universalium

  • Table (parliamentary) — NOTOC In parliamentary procedure, the motion to table or more properly, to lay on the table , is a proposal to suspend consideration of the pending motion. The circumstances under which this motion is appropriate are the subject of considerable… …   Wikipedia

  • Motion (parliamentary procedure) — For other uses, see Motion. In parliamentary procedure, a motion is a formal proposal by a member of a deliberative assembly that the assembly take certain action.[1] In a parliament, this is also called a parliamentary motion and includes… …   Wikipedia

  • Second (parliamentary procedure) — Seconded redirects here. For temporary personnel transfer, see secondment. In deliberative bodies a second to a proposed motion is an indication that there is at least one person besides the mover that is interested in seeing the motion come… …   Wikipedia

  • Recognition (parliamentary procedure) — Recognition, in parliamentary procedure, is the assignment of the floor that is, the exclusive right to be heard at that time to a member of a deliberative assembly. With a few exceptions, a member must be recognized by the chair before engaging… …   Wikipedia

  • table — /ˈteɪbəl / (say taybuhl) noun 1. an article of furniture consisting of a flat top resting on legs or on a pillar. 2. such an article of furniture designed for the playing of any various games: a billiard table. 3. the board at or round which… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Table (verb) — Table as a verb has two contradictory meanings, one in use in the United States and the other in the remainder of the English speaking world. In the United States, the motion to table (or lay on the table ) is a proposal to suspend consideration… …   Wikipedia

  • Parliamentary ping-pong — (or lutte a la corde ) is a phrase used to describe a phenomenon in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, in which legislation appears to rapidly bounce back and forth between the two chambers like a ping pong ball bounces between the players in… …   Wikipedia

  • Australia and New Zealand Association of Clerks-at-the-Table — The Australia and New Zealand Association of Clerks at the Table (or ANZACATT) is an association involving the Parliaments of Australia, New Zealand and Norfolk Island with the aim of advancing the professional development of its members,… …   Wikipedia

  • List of parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland — Northern Ireland is divided into 18 Parliamentary constituencies 4 borough constituencies in Belfast and 14 county constituencies elsewhere. Each area returns one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons at Westminster and six Members of …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.