[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 112th Congress]
[House Document 111-157]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]
with, should induce them to reform this anomalous proceeding.
The rule permitting a reconsideration of a question affixing it to no
limitation of time or circumstance, it may be asked whether there is no
limitation? If, after the vote, the paper on which it is passed has been
parted with, there can be no reconsideration, as if a vote has been for
the passage of a bill and the bill has been sent to the other House. But
where the paper remains, as on a bill rejected, when or under what
circumstances does it cease to be susceptible of reconsideration? This
remains to be settled, unless a sense that the right of reconsideration
is a right to waste the time of the House in repeated agitations of the
same question, so that it shall never know when a question is done
The House provides for reconsideration by clause 3 of rule XIX.
Sec. 513. Early Senate practice as to
1798, Jan. A bill on its second reading being amended, and on
the question whether it shall be read a third time negatived, was
restored by a decision to reconsider that question. Here the votes of
negative and reconsideration, like positive and negative quantities in
equation, destroy one another, and are as if they were expunged from the
journals. Consequently the bill is open for amendment, just so far as it
was the moment preceding the question for the third reading; that is to
say, all parts of the bill are open for amendment except those on which
votes have been already taken in its present stage. So, also, it may be
Sec. 514. Parliamentary law as to
In Parliament a question once carried can not be questioned again
at the same session, but must stand as the judgment of the House.
Towns., col. 67; Mem. in Hakew., 33. * * *
is recorded (IV, 3384), but the House has declined to
consider a bill brought forward after a rejection (IV, 3384; Mar. 9,
1910, p. 2966). The Committee on Rules may report as privileged a
resolution making in order the consideration of a measure of the same
substance as one previously rejected and to rescind or vacate the action
whereby the House had rejected a measure (VIII, 3391; Mar. 17, 1976, p.
6776); and a special order of business nearly identical to one
previously rejected by the House, but providing a different scheme for
general debate, was held not to violate this section (July 27, 1993, p.
In the House, with its rule for reconsideration, there is rarely an
attempt to bring forward a bill once rejected at the same session. One
Sec. 515. A bill once rejected not to be brought
up again at the same session.
* * * And a bill once rejected, another of the same
substance can not be brought in again the same session. Hakew., 158; 6
Grey, 392. But this does not extend to prevent putting the same question
in different stages of a bill, because every stage of a bill submits the
whole and every part of it to the opinion of the House as open for
amendment, either by insertion or omission, though the same amendment
has been accepted or rejected in a former stage. So in reports of
committees, e.g., report of an address, the same question is before the
House, and open for free discussion. Towns., col. 26; 2 Hats., 98, 100,
101. So orders of the House or instructions to committees may be
discharged. So a bill, begun in one House and sent to the other and
there rejected, may be renewed again in that other, passed, and sent
back. Ib., 92; 3 Hats., 161. Or if, instead of being rejected, they read
it once and lay it aside or amend it and put it off a month, they may
order in another to the same effect, with the same or a different title.
Hakew., 97, 98.
same question in substance, though with some words not in the
first, and which might change the opinion of some Members, was brought
on again and carried, as the motives for it were thought to outweigh the
objection of form. 2 Hats, 99, 100.
Sec. 516. Expedients for changing the effect
of bills once passed.
Divers expedients are used to correct the effects of this rule,
as, by passing an explanatory act, if anything has been omitted or ill
expressed, 3 Hats., 278, or an act to enforce and make more effectual an
act, &c., or to rectify mistakes in an act, &c., or a committee on one
bill may be instructed to receive a clause to rectify the mistakes of
another. Thus, June 24, 1685, a clause was inserted in a bill for
rectifying a mistake committed by a clerk in engrossing a bill of
supply. 2 Hats., 194, 6. Or the session may be closed for one, two,
three, or more days and a new one commenced. But then all matters
depending must be finished, or they fall, and are to begin de novo. 2
Hats., 94, 98. Or a part of the subject may be taken up by another bill
or taken up in a different way. 6 Grey, 304, 316.
Sec. 517. Exceptions to the rule against bringing up a
matter once rejected.
And in cases of the last magnitude this rule has not
been so strictly and verbally observed as to stop indispensable
proceedings altogether. 2 Hats., 92, 98. Thus when the address on the
preliminaries of peace in 1782 had been lost by a majority of one, on
account of the importance of the question and smallness of the majority,
The House has by a joint resolution corrected an error in a bill that
had gone to the President (IV, 3519).
Sec. 518. Passage of supplementary bills.
A second bill may
be passed to continue an act of the same session or to enlarge the time
limited for its execution. 2 Hats., 95, 98. This is not in contradiction
to the first act.