[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House] [Chapter 1. Adjournment] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov] HOUSE PRACTICE A. Generally; Adjournments of Three Days or Less Sec. 1. In General Sec. 2. Adjournment Motions and Requests; Forms Sec. 3. When in Order; Precedence and Privilege of Motion Sec. 4. In Committee of the Whole Sec. 5. Who May Offer Motion; Recognition Sec. 6. Debate on Motion; Amendments Sec. 7. Voting Sec. 8. Quorum Requirements Sec. 9. Dilatory Motions; Repetition of Motion B. Adjournments for More Than Three Days Sec. 10. In General; Resolutions Sec. 11. Privilege of Resolution Sec. 12. August Recess C. Adjournment Sine Die Sec. 13. In General; Resolutions Sec. 14. Procedure at Adjournment; Motions Research References U.S. Const. art. I, Sec. 5 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5359-5388 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2641-2648 Deschler-Brown-Johnson Ch 40 Manual Sec. Sec. 82-84, 911-913 [[Page 2]] A. Generally; Adjournments of Three Days or Less Sec. 1 . In General Types of Adjournments Adjournment procedures in the House are governed by the House rules and by the Constitution. There are: (1) adjournments of three days or less, which are taken pursuant to motion (or by unanimous consent when only the Chair is present in the chamber) (Sec. 5, infra); (2) adjournments of more than three days, which require the consent of the Senate (Sec. 10, infra); and (3) adjournments sine die, which end each session of a Congress and which require the consent of both Houses. Adjournments of more than three days or sine die are taken pursuant to concurrent resolutions. Sec. Sec. 10, 13, infra. Adjournment Versus Recess Adjournment is to be distinguished from recess. The House may authorize a recess under a motion provided in clause 4 of rule XVI. The Speaker also may declare a recess when no other business is pending (clause 12(a) of rule I) or when notified of an imminent threat to the safety of the House (clause 12(b) of rule I). During a period of recess, the House remains in session. The mace remains in place on its pedestal, reports may be filed with the Clerk, and bills may be placed in the hopper. See Recess. Emergency Convening Authority During any recess or adjournment of not more than three days, if the Speaker is notified by the Sergeant-at-Arms of an imminent impairment of the place of reconvening, then the Speaker may, in consultation with the Minority Leader, postpone the time for reconvening within the three-day limit prescribed by the Constitution. In the alternative, the Speaker, under the same conditions, may reconvene the House before the time previously appointed solely to declare the House in recess within that three-day limit. Clause 12(c) of rule I; Sec. 10, infra. Sec. 2 . Adjournment Motions and Requests; Forms Motions The motion to adjourn authorized by clause 4(a) of rule XVI is in order in simple form only. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5371, 5372. The form is as follows: Member: M_. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn. Note: The motion must be in writing if demanded. [[Page 3]] The proponent of the motion may not include argument in favor of the adjournment or impose conditions under which it is to be taken. 5 Hinds Sec. 5371; 8 Cannon Sec. 2647. The motion may not be amended to set forth the day on which the House is to reconvene. Sec. 6, infra. However, the simple motion to adjourn may be preceded at the Speaker's discretion by a nondebatable and unamendable motion provided by clause 4(c) of rule XVI that, when the House adjourns, it stand adjourned to a day and time certain. Manual Sec. 911. This motion is used when the House wishes to make some change in the day or hour of its next regularly scheduled meeting. Manual Sec. 621. Member: M_. Speaker, I move that when the House adjourns today it stand adjourned to meet at _____(time) on _____(date). This motion cannot be used to circumvent the constitutional restriction against adjournments for more than three days without the consent of the Senate. Unanimous-Consent Requests Adjournments of three days or less may be taken pursuant to a unanimous-consent request: Member: M_. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that when the House adjourns today, it adjourn to meet at __ on __, __ (any time on a day within three calendar days not including Sundays). For adjournments of more than three days, see Sec. Sec. 10-12, infra. Legislative Days and Calendar Days Distinguished The duration of a legislative day does not conform to the 24 hours of a calendar day, nor does a legislative day automatically terminate by reason of the arrival of the time for a regularly scheduled meeting of the House. The legislative day continues until terminated by an adjournment, irrespective of the passage of calendar days. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 6738, 6739. The House has convened and adjourned twice on the same calendar day pursuant to a motion to fix the day to which the House shall adjourn, thereby meeting for two legislative days on the same calendar day. Manual Sec. 913. However, a legislative day cannot extend into a new Congress or a new session. 96-1, Jan. 3, 1980, p 37774. Sec. 3 . When in Order; Precedence and Privilege of Motion The motion to adjourn is a motion of highest privilege and is in order whenever the floor can be secured. See Manual Sec. 912; 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5359, 5360. Other motions may not intervene between the motion to adjourn and the vote thereon. 5 Hinds Sec. 5361. The motion to adjourn is specifically [[Page 4]] given precedence over all other secondary motions permitted by clause 4 of rule XVI, including the motions to lay on the table, for the previous question, to amend, to refer, or to postpone. Manual Sec. 911. The motion to adjourn takes precedence over all other motions because, as Jefferson noted, the House might otherwise be kept sitting against its will and indefinitely. Manual Sec. 439. The motion to fix the day and time to which the House shall adjourn is of equal privilege to the simple motion to adjourn but is entertained only at the Speaker's discretion. Manual Sec. Sec. 911, 912. The motion to fix the day, if made first, need not give way to the simple motion. 5 Hinds Sec. 5381. The motion to adjourn may not interrupt a vote being taken in the House. 5 Hinds Sec. 5360. However, the motion to adjourn is in order:
Between the putting of the question on a proposition and the ensuing vote. Manual Sec. 439. Between the different methods of voting, as between a vote by division and a vote by yeas and nays. Manual Sec. 439. After a recorded vote is ordered and before the vote begins. 5 Hinds Sec. 5366. After a vote has been objected to for lack of a quorum. Manual Sec. 913. The motion to adjourn permitted by clause 4 of rule XVI applies both when a question is ``under debate,'' and when other business is before the House as well. Manual Sec. Sec. 911, 912. The motion is in order and takes precedence over the motions delineated in clause 4(a) of rule XVI and: The reading of the Journal. 4 Hinds Sec. 2757. The Speaker's approval of the Journal. Manual Sec. 621. A motion for a call of the House. 8 Cannon Sec. 2642. A resolution offered as a question of the privileges of the House. Manual Sec. 699. The consideration of an impeachment proceeding. 91-2, Apr. 15, 1970, p 11940. A motion to reconsider. 5 Hinds Sec. 5605. A motion to instruct conferees. Manual Sec. 912. The filing of a privileged report from a committee. Manual Sec. 912. The consideration of conference reports. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 6451, 6453. A report from the Committee of the Whole. 8 Cannon Sec. 2645. The consideration of a veto message from the President. 4 Hinds Sec. 3523. [[Page 5]] When Not in Order The motion to adjourn does not take precedence and may not be entertained: When another Member holds the floor in debate. Manual Sec. 912; 5 Hinds Sec. 5360. During time yielded for a parliamentary inquiry. Deschler- Brown-Johnson Ch 40 Sec. 3.18. When the House is voting, such as by the yeas and nays or other recorded vote. 5 Hinds Sec. 6053. Pending a vote pursuant to a special order of business providing for such vote ``without intervening motion.'' 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 3211, 3212. During the presentation of a conference report. 5 Hinds Sec. 6452. Pending or during the administration of the oath to a Member. 1 Hinds Sec. 622. In certain situations, the motion cannot be repeated after one such motion has been defeated. See Sec. 9, infra. Repetition is not permitted: Pending consideration of a report from the Committee on Rules. Clause 6(b) of rule XIII; 8 Cannon Sec. 2260. Pending consideration of a motion to suspend the rules. Clause 1(b) of rule XV. Sec. 4 . In Committee of the Whole The motion to adjourn is not in order after the House has voted to resolve into the Committee of the Whole. 4 Hinds Sec. 4728; 5 Hinds Sec. 5367. The motion is not in order in the Committee of the Whole. 4 Hinds Sec. 4716. It also is not entertained when the Committee of the Whole rises to report proceedings incident to securing a quorum (8 Cannon Sec. 2436) or when it rises ``informally'' to receive a message. However, the motion to adjourn is permitted when the House is meeting as in the Committee of the Whole. 4 Hinds Sec. 4923. Sec. 5 . Who May Offer Motion; Recognition The motion to adjourn may be made by any Member (91-1, Oct. 14, 1969, pp 30054-56). The Chair may declare the House adjourned by unanimous consent when no Member is available. Deschler-Brown-Johnson Ch 40 Sec. 3.28. Sec. 6 . Debate on Motion; Amendments Debate on the simple motion to adjourn is precluded by clause 4(b) of rule XVI. Manual Sec. 911; 5 Hinds Sec. 5359. Clause 4(c) precludes debate on [[Page 6]] the motion to fix the day to which the House shall adjourn. Manual Sec. 911; 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5379, 5380. The stricture against debate on a motion to adjourn includes a prefatory statement leading up to the motion. Such statement, if made, is not carried in the Congressional Record. 107-2, Feb. 13, 2002, p 1419. Unless the House has yet to adopt its customary standing order that fixes the daily hour of meeting for each day of the week, the simple motion to adjourn is not subject to amendment. Manual Sec. 585. Thus, the motion may not be amended by language alluding to the purpose of the adjournment. Manual Sec. 912. The motion also may not be amended by language specifying the day (5 Hinds Sec. 5360) or hour (5 Hinds Sec. 5364) to which adjournment is to be taken. Manual Sec. 912. Similarly, the separate motion under clause 4(c) of rule XVI that when the House adjourns it stand adjourned to a day and time certain also is not subject to amendment. An older precedent (5 Hinds Sec. 5754) indicating otherwise predates the 1973 change in clause 4(c) of rule XVI, which enabled the motion at the Speaker's discretion. See Manual Sec. 911. Sec. 7 . Voting The vote on a motion to adjourn may be taken by any of the voting methods authorized by the House rules, including a division vote or a vote by the yeas and nays. 99-1, Dec. 20, 1985, p 38733; 88-2, Feb. 8, 1964, pp 2616, 2639. The adoption of a resolution providing for adjournment sine die on a day certain does not preclude a demand for the yeas and nays on the motion to adjourn on that day. 87-1, Sept. 27, 1961, p 21528. A negative vote on a motion to adjourn is not subject to the motion to reconsider. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5620, 5622; see also Reconsideration. Sec. 8 . Quorum Requirements A quorum is required for a motion to fix the time of adjournment to a day and time certain. Manual Sec. 913. The simple motion to adjourn may be agreed to notwithstanding the absence of a quorum. See Manual Sec. Sec. 52, 1025. Indeed, no motion is in order in the absence of a quorum except to adjourn or for a call of the House. 4 Hinds Sec. Sec. 2950, 2951, 2988; 6 Cannon Sec. Sec. 680, 682. The motion to adjourn is in order on failure of a quorum, even where the House is operating under a special order of business requiring the consideration of the pending business. 5 Hinds Sec. 5365. The motion to adjourn takes precedence over a motion for a call of the House. Sec. 3, supra. In one instance, following a point of order that a quorum [[Page 7]] was not present, and before the Chair so ascertained, a Member moved a call of the House while another Member immediately moved to adjourn. The Chair recognized for the more privileged motion. 88-1, June 12, 1963, p 10739. It is not in order to demand an ``automatic'' roll call under clause 6 of rule XX on an affirmative vote on a simple motion to adjourn because that motion may be agreed to by less than a quorum. Manual Sec. 1025. However, a vote by the yeas and nays in such a case would be in order, if demanded by one-fifth of those present, no quorum being required. Manual Sec. Sec. 75, 76. Where the vote on an adjournment is decided in the negative, and a point of order that a quorum is not present is sustained, an ``automatic'' roll call on the motion then occurs under clause 6 of rule XX. 100-1, Nov. 2, 1987, pp 30386-90; Deschler-Brown-Johnson Ch 40 Sec. 3.8. Member: I move that the House do now adjourn. Speaker: On this vote (by division, or by voice) the noes have it. Member: I make a point of order that a quorum is not present and (pursuant to clause 6 of rule XX) I object to the vote on the ground that a quorum is not present. Speaker: A quorum is not present, and the yeas and nays are ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device. Although a motion to adjourn is in order pending a point of order that a quorum is not present, it is not entertained after the Clerk has begun to call the roll. 5 Hinds Sec. 5366; 86-2, June 3, 1960, p 11828. After the call has been completed, the motion to adjourn is again in order; and it is not necessary that the Chair announce that a quorum has failed to respond before entertaining the motion. 91-1, Oct. 14, 1969, pp 30054-56. Sec. 9 . Dilatory Motions; Repetition of Motion Clause 1 of rule XVI, which precludes the Speaker from entertaining dilatory motions, is applicable to motions to adjourn. Manual Sec. 903. Although of the highest privilege, the motion to adjourn is not in order when offered for purposes of delay or obstruction. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5721, 5731; 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 2796, 2813. On one occasion, a point of order was sustained against the motion where a House rule gave the Speaker the discretion to recognize for a motion to adjourn. 8 Cannon Sec. 2822. The motion to adjourn, once disposed of, may ordinarily be repeated, but not until after intervening business, such as debate, a decision of the Chair on a question of order, or the ordering of the yeas and nays. Manual Sec. 912; 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5373, 5374, 5376- 5378; 8 Cannon Sec. 2814. In some cases the rules specifically provide that only one motion to adjourn is to be permitted. This restriction applies during the consideration of [[Page 8]] certain reports from the Committee on Rules and during the consideration of motions to suspend the rules. Manual Sec. Sec. 858, 890; Sec. 3, supra. In such cases the motion to adjourn--once having been rejected--may not again be entertained until the pending matter has been disposed of. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5740, 5741. However, if a motion to adjourn is made and rejected, and a quorum then fails, a second motion to adjourn is admitted. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 5744-5746. B. Adjournments for More Than Three Days Sec. 10 . In General; Resolutions House-Senate Action Under article I, section 5, clause 4 of the Constitution, neither House can adjourn (or recess) for more than three days without the consent of the other. The consent of both Houses is required even when the adjournment is sought by only one House. Manual Sec. 84. In calculating the three days, either the day of adjourning or the day of meeting (excluding Sundays) must be taken into the count. Manual Sec. 83; 5 Hinds Sec. 6673. Thus, the House can adjourn by motion from Thursday to Monday, or from Friday to Tuesday, because Sunday is a dies non. However, it cannot, for example, adjourn from Monday to Friday without the Senate's assent. Consistent with this requirement, the House has authorized the Speaker to declare the House in recesses subject to calls of the Chair during discrete periods, each not more than three days. Manual Sec. 83. Adjournments for more than three days are provided for by concurrent resolution. The resolution may provide for the adjournment of one House or of both Houses. Manual Sec. 84. Senate concurrent resolutions for adjournment are laid before the House by the Speaker as privileged. 101-1, Mar. 16, 1989, p 4480. Whether originating in the House or Senate, such concurrent resolutions are not debatable and require a quorum for adoption. Manual Sec. 84. The concurrent resolution is generally offered by the Majority Leader or a designee: Member: M_. Speaker, I send to the desk a privileged concurrent resolution and ask for its immediate consideration. The resolution may set forth the times at which the adjournment is to begin and end, but frequently the resolution will provide optional dates so as to give each House some discretion in determining the exact period of adjournment. Manual Sec. 84. Recent resolutions have provided for one period of adjournment of the House and a different period for the Senate. Thus, [[Page 9]] the resolution may provide for an adjournment of the House for more than three days to a day certain, and a recess of the Senate for more than three days to a day certain as subsequently determined by the Senate before recessing. Manual Sec. 84. For a discussion of the authority of the President to determine the period of adjournment when the two Houses are unable to agree with respect thereto, see Manual Sec. 171; for convening, see Assembly of Congress. Conditional Adjournments; Recall Provisos An adjournment resolution may include various conditions or provisos, such as that the Senate shall adjourn pursuant to the resolution after it has disposed of a certain bill. Manual Sec. 84; 95-2, June 29, 1978, p 19466. A concurrent resolution adjourning both Houses for more than three days, or sine die, normally includes authority for the Speaker and the Majority Leader of the Senate, acting jointly, to reassemble the Members whenever the public interest shall warrant it. Manual Sec. 84. Recently, such recall authority has allowed the respective designees of the Majority Leader and the Speaker to so reassemble. It has also allowed reassembly at such place as may be designated. Deschler-Brown- Johnson Ch 40 Sec. 2.2. In the 108th Congress, the two Houses granted anticipatory consent to assemble the 108th Congress at a place outside the District of Columbia whenever the public interest shall warrant it. 108-1, H. Con. Res. 1, Jan. 7, 2003, p 21; see also Manual Sec. 82a. A concurrent resolution also may provide for the sine die adjournment of one House following a single House recall. Manual Sec. 84. The House has entered an order authorizing the Speaker or a designee, during any recess or adjournment of not more than three days, to reconvene the House at a time other than that previously appointed, within the limits of clause 4, section 5, article I of the Constitution, based on a determination that the public interest so warrants and after consultation with the Minority Leader. 112-1, H. Res. 479, Dec. 6, 2011, p __. Amendments; Voting Adjournment resolutions originating in one House are subject to amendment by the other. 95-2, June 29, 1978, p 19466; 95-2, Aug. 17, 1978, p 26794. Such an amendment is not in order after the previous question is ordered (except pursuant to a motion to commit with proper instructions). 96-2, Oct. 1, 1980, p 28576. Voting on the motion may be by voice, division, or any of the methods of voting established by rule XX or by article I, section 5 of the Constitution. [[Page 10]] Sec. 11 . Privilege of Resolution A concurrent resolution providing for an adjournment of the House or of the Senate (or of both Houses) is privileged. Manual Sec. 84; 5 Hinds Sec. 6701. The resolution is privileged even though it provides for an adjournment of the two Houses to different days certain. 93-2, Apr. 11, 1974, p 10775. An adjournment resolution remains privileged, despite its inclusion of additional matter, so long as such additional matter would be privileged in its own right. For example, an adjournment resolution including a declaration asserted as a question of the privileges of the House relating to the ability of the House to receive veto messages during the adjournment retains its privilege. 101-1, Nov. 21, 1989, p 31156. An adjournment resolution including a provision establishing an order of business for the following session of the Congress was not considered privileged. 102-1, Nov. 26, 1991, p 35840. Amendments of the Senate to adjournment resolutions are privileged in the House. 97-2, Feb. 10, 1982, p 1471. A House concurrent resolution providing for an adjournment may be subject to a point of order if the House is not in compliance with sections 309 or 310(f) of the Congressional Budget Act, which preclude such resolutions until the House has approved its regular appropriation bills and completed action on any required reconciliation legislation. Manual Sec. 1127; 108-2, June 25, 2004, p 14153. However, these provisions of the Act may be waived by unanimous consent or by adoption of a resolution reported by the Committee on Rules. See, e.g., 101-1, June 23, 1989, p 13271. Sec. 12 . August Recess The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 provides that unless otherwise provided by Congress, the two Houses shall either (a) adjourn sine die by July 31 of each year, or (b) in odd-numbered years, adjourn in August (for a specified period) pursuant to a concurrent resolution adopted by roll call vote in each House. 2 USC Sec. 198. The House has not adjourned sine die by July 31 under this Act for many years, and the provisions in the Act to that effect have been routinely waived by concurrent resolution, thereby permitting the two Houses to continue in session. Manual Sec. Sec. 1106, 1106a. In the absence of such a resolution, a simple motion to adjourn, made at the conclusion of business on July 31, is in order and would permit the House to meet on the following day. Manual Sec. 1106a. The House and Senate may adopt a concurrent resolution adjourning in August in an odd-numbered year as specified by the Act. Such a resolution is called up as privileged, requires a yea and nay vote for adoption, and [[Page 11]] is not debatable. Manual Sec. 1106a. Concurrent resolutions waiving the provisions of the Act are not privileged and have been called up by unanimous consent (Deschler-Brown-Johnson Ch 40 Sec. 12.4) or by resolution reported by the Committee on Rules (105-1, July 31, 1997, p 17018). C. Adjournment Sine Die Sec. 13 . In General; Resolutions Adjournments sine die (literally, without day) are used to terminate the sessions of a Congress, and are provided for by concurrent resolution. A session terminates automatically at the end of the constitutional term. See 96-1, Jan. 3, 1980, p 37774; 104-1, Jan. 3, 1996, p 38609. Adjournment resolutions may be offered from the floor as privileged. 5 Hinds Sec. 6698. The resolution is not debatable. 8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 3371-3374. However, a Member may be recognized during its consideration under a reservation of objection to a unanimous-consent request. Manual Sec. 84. It requires a quorum for adoption. 92-2, Oct. 18, 1972, p 37061. A sine die resolution may specify the particular legislative or calendar day of adjournment or may specify alternate dates. Sine die adjournment in the latter case is effected by a motion offered pursuant to the resolution. Manual Sec. 84. Sine die resolutions may be amended to provide for an adjournment on a date other than that specified. 98-2, Oct. 11, 1984, p 32314. The resolution need not specify the date of convening because, under section 2 of the 20th amendment to the Constitution, a regular session of a Congress automatically begins at noon on January 3 of every year unless Congress sets a different date by law. Manual Sec. 242; 96-2, Jan. 3, 1980, p 3. Under clause 1(o) of rule X, the Committee on Rules has jurisdiction of matters relative to final adjournment of Congress. Manual Sec. 733. The time of adjournment sine die having been fixed by concurrent resolution, the House may not finally adjourn before that time. 5 Hinds Sec. 6714. However, a sine die resolution may be recalled prior to action thereon by the other House. 5 Hinds Sec. 6699. Also, it is subject to rescission by a subsequent concurrent resolution. 5 Hinds Sec. 6700. A resolution rescinding an order for adjournment sine die is open to amendment, and an amendment assigning a new date is germane. 5 Hinds Sec. 5920. For waivers of statutory provision as to adjournment sine die on July 31, see Sec. 12, supra. Under the current practice, sine die adjournment resolutions normally contain House-Senate leadership recall authority. For a discussion of recall authority generally, see Sec. 10, supra. [[Page 12]] The House customarily authorizes the Speaker to appoint a committee to notify the President of the completion of business and the intention of the two Houses to adjourn sine die unless the President has some further communication to make. 100-1, Dec. 21, 1987, p 37618. This committee is usually composed of the Majority and Minority Leaders of the House, and joins a similar committee appointed by the Senate. 106-1, Nov. 18, 1999, p 30735. Sec. 14 . Procedure at Adjournment; Motions The House may adjourn at the time specified in the adjournment resolution even though other business, such as a roll call, may be pending. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 6325, 6719, 6720. Adjournment sine die can occur notwithstanding the absence of a quorum if both Houses have adopted a concurrent resolution providing for sine die adjournment on that day. Manual Sec. 55; 5 Hinds Sec. 6721. A motion to adjourn may invoke a concurrent resolution that gives it particular meaning on the instant day. The motion is offered pursuant to the concurrent resolution: M_. Speaker, pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution __, __th Congress, I move that the House do now adjourn. The yeas and nays may be ordered on this motion. The adoption of a concurrent resolution providing for adjournment sine die on a day certain does not preclude a demand for the yeas and nays on the motion to adjourn on that day. 87-1, Sept. 27, 1961, p 21528.