[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 112th Congress]
[112nd Congress]
[House Document 111-157]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[Pages 223-225]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


            sec. xxxi--bill, second reading in the house

Sec. 428. Manner of reading a bill the second time. In Parliament, after the bill has been read a second time, if on the motion and question it be not committed, or if no proposition for commitment be made, the speaker reads it by paragraphs, pausing between each, but putting no question but on amendments proposed; but when through the whole, he puts the question whether it shall be read a third time, if it came from the other house, or, if originating with themselves, whether it shall be engrossed and read a third time. The speaker reads sitting, but rises to put questions. The clerk stands while he reads.
[[Page 224]] may, with the most innocent intentions, commit errors which can never again be corrected. But the Senate of the United States is so much in the habit of making many and material amendments at the third reading that it has become the practice not to engross a bill till it has passed--an irregular and dangerous practice, because in this way the paper which passes the Senate is not that which goes to the other House, and that which goes to the other House as the act of the Senate has never been seen in the Senate. In reducing numerous, difficult, and illegible amendments into the text the Secretary In the House the Clerk and not the Speaker or chair of the Committee of the Whole reads bills on second reading. After the second reading, which is by paragraph or section in the Committee of the Whole, the bill is open to amendment (see Sec. 980, infra). Clause 8 of rule XVI, as explained in Sec. 942, infra, governs first and second readings of bills in the House and in Committee of the Whole. [[Page 225]]
Sec. 429. Test of strength on engrossment after amendment. The bill being now as perfect as its friends can make it, this is the proper stage for those fundamentally opposed to make their first attack. All attempts at earlier periods are with disjointed efforts, because many who do not expect to be in favor of the bill ultimately, are willing to let it go on to its perfect state, to take time to examine it themselves and to hear what can be said for it, knowing that after all they will have sufficient opportunities of giving it their veto. Its two last stages, therefore, are reserved for this--that is to say, on the question whether it shall be engrossed and read a third time, and, lastly, whether it shall pass. The first of these is usually the most interesting contest, because then the whole subject is new and engaging, and the minds of the Members having not yet been declared by any trying vote the issue is the more doubtful. In this stage, therefore, is the main trial of strength between its friends and opponents, and it behooves everyone to make up his mind decisively for this question, or he loses the main battle; and accident and management may, and often do, prevent a successful rallying on the next and last question, whether it shall pass.
<> When the bill is engrossed the title is to be indorsed on the back, and not within the bill. Hakew, 250.
Sec. 430. Test of strength on a bill before amending. In the House there are two other means of testing strength: raising the question of consideration when the bill first comes up (clause 3 of rule XVI), and moving to strike the enacting words when it is first open to amendment (clause 9 of rule XVIII). By these methods an adverse opinion may be expressed without permitting the bill to consume the time of the House.
In the practice of the House and the Senate the title appears in its proper place in the engrossed bill, and also is endorsed, with the number, on the back.