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Previous Question and preambles


Sean Hunt

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I have a whole suite of questions related to preambles and the Previous Question:

  1. When a preamble is put up for amendment, do members' speaking turns 'reset'?
  2. If the Previous Question is ordered on a motion with a preamble, do people regain their right to debate on either the motion or amendments to it once the preamble is put for amendment?
  3. If the Previous Question is ordered on a motion with a preamble, are other subsidiary motions in order once the preamble is up for amendment?
  4. Is it possible to move the Previous Question on a motion and its preamble as one motion?
  5. When a motion to Limit or Extend Limits of Debate includes an order for a vote, and the main motion has a preamble, does this behave exactly as the Previous Question would, including how it applies to amendments and other subsidiary motions?
  6. If multiple main motions are pending (through interruption of a special order, a Question of Privilege, or a motion to Suspend the Rules), can the Previous Question be moved on the entire series of main motions and subsidiary motions?
  7. Does the above apply even if the more immediately pending main motion has a preamble? If so, what happens when the Previous Question is ordered on the entire series of motions when one of the motions has a preamble?
  8. If one can move the Previous Question on multiple pending main motions at once, can one move the Previous Question on a special order for which the time for consideration has passed, but when higher-ranking special order is under consideration?

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Check the entry for preamble in the index, RONR (11th ed.), p. 700. I think you will find references to various places in the book where you will be able to find most of the answers to your questions.

Unfortunately not. All they say is that the preamble is not open to amendment until after the resolving clauses have been perfected, and that the Previous Question on the motion does not apply to the preamble and can have the Previous Question. There are no forms or examples provided, so while I could possibly provide answers to some of those questions based on the text, it would be merely speculation.

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How, then, would anything that anyone else says be other than speculation too?

I would hope that someone more experienced than I might be able to provide some input based on knowledge learned over time, or something similar. As it is, I would answer the questions as follows:

  1. No. Nothing says that members receive additional debate time for the preamble, so they do not.
  2. Yes. The Previous Question does not apply to the preamble.
  3. No except for Limit or Extend Limits of Debate (and of course Lay on the Table, since other subsidiary motions apply to the motion as a whole and can't reasonably be applied to part of it.
  4. No.
  5. Yes, based on p.195
  6. Yes.
  7. This one is very tricky. Reading the rules strictly, the Previous Question could applied to the entire series, but would fail to apply to the preamble, so the preamble could be amended, and once it was finished, the Previous Question would be resumed on the remaining motions of the series, similar to the case when a special order interrupts something for which the Previous Question has been ordered.
  8. No. Since the special order never becomes pending, the Previous Question cannot be applied to it.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a whole suite of questions related to preambles and the Previous Question:

  1. When a preamble is put up for amendment, do members' speaking turns 'reset'?
  2. If the Previous Question is ordered on a motion with a preamble, do people regain their right to debate on either the motion or amendments to it once the preamble is put for amendment?
  3. If the Previous Question is ordered on a motion with a preamble, are other subsidiary motions in order once the preamble is up for amendment?
  4. Is it possible to move the Previous Question on a motion and its preamble as one motion?
  5. When a motion to Limit or Extend Limits of Debate includes an order for a vote, and the main motion has a preamble, does this behave exactly as the Previous Question would, including how it applies to amendments and other subsidiary motions?
  6. If multiple main motions are pending (through interruption of a special order, a Question of Privilege, or a motion to Suspend the Rules), can the Previous Question be moved on the entire series of main motions and subsidiary motions?
  7. Does the above apply even if the more immediately pending main motion has a preamble? If so, what happens when the Previous Question is ordered on the entire series of motions when one of the motions has a preamble?
  8. If one can move the Previous Question on multiple pending main motions at once, can one move the Previous Question on a special order for which the time for consideration has passed, but when higher-ranking special order is under consideration?

Let's take these up one at a time.

Question 1.

When a preamble is put up for amendment, do members' speaking turns 'reset'?

Response to Question 1.

No member may speak more than twice on the same question on the same day, and this rule applies to a main motion to adopt a resolution with one or more preamble clauses. Therefore, if a member has spoken twice on such a main motion, he may not speak in debate on it again that same day, regardless of whether or not the preamble clauses have been opened to amendment. However, his having spoken twice on the main motion has no effect on his right to speak twice on any other debatable motion that may become pending, including any motion to amend a preamble clause when those clauses are opened to amendment.

Does this answer the question?

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Let's take these up one at a time.

Question 1.

When a preamble is put up for amendment, do members' speaking turns 'reset'?

Response to Question 1.

No member may speak more than twice on the same question on the same day, and this rule applies to a main motion to adopt a resolution with one or more preamble clauses. Therefore, if a member has spoken twice on such a main motion, he may not speak in debate on it again that same day, regardless of whether or not the preamble clauses have been opened to amendment. However, his having spoken twice on the main motion has no effect on his right to speak twice on any other debatable motion that may become pending, including any motion to amend a preamble clause when those clauses are opened to amendment.

Does this answer the question?

Yes, thanks :) I thought this topic was dead..

To save you some time, given that it's been a while and my understanding is now better, I'll go through and put my best educated guesses of the other questions:

  1. You just answered it :)
  2. You just answered this one as well.
  3. By the text of the rules, I would have to guess no, but this is a tricky one. Certainly Previous Question is once again applicable; common sense tells me that the assembly should be free at least to Postpone Definitely or Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, but I can't see any text supporting that oddball result, and it would make more sense for it to be all or none. At the same time, it would make little sense for a motion to be, say, Postponed Indefinitely after the Previous Question was ordered. Obviously Lay on the Table remains in order.
  4. Not without suspending the rules.
  5. Yes, minus the few weird cases which you've previously highlighted (but which I cannot recall specifically) where the two do actually differ.
  6. Yes, as they are properly still pending.
  7. I would hazard that the Previous Question is suspended once a motion with a preamble is reached, the preamble is dealt with, and then the effect of the Previous Question resumes on the remainder of the motions.
  8. No, because the lower-ranking special order does not magically become pending but not immediately pending. They would have to be dealt with separately.

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Yes, thanks :) I thought this topic was dead..

To save you some time, given that it's been a while and my understanding is now better, I'll go through and put my best educated guesses of the other questions:

  1. You just answered it :)
  2. You just answered this one as well.
  3. By the text of the rules, I would have to guess no, but this is a tricky one. Certainly Previous Question is once again applicable; common sense tells me that the assembly should be free at least to Postpone Definitely or Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, but I can't see any text supporting that oddball result, and it would make more sense for it to be all or none. At the same time, it would make little sense for a motion to be, say, Postponed Indefinitely after the Previous Question was ordered. Obviously Lay on the Table remains in order.
  4. Not without suspending the rules.
  5. Yes, minus the few weird cases which you've previously highlighted (but which I cannot recall specifically) where the two do actually differ.
  6. Yes, as they are properly still pending.
  7. I would hazard that the Previous Question is suspended once a motion with a preamble is reached, the preamble is dealt with, and then the effect of the Previous Question resumes on the remainder of the motions.
  8. No, because the lower-ranking special order does not magically become pending but not immediately pending. They would have to be dealt with separately.

Let's continue to take these one at a time.

You say I have already answered Question 2, but I am not really sure I understand the question. Perhaps it would be best if you could restate it, and then tell us what you understand the answer to be.

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Let's continue to take these one at a time.

You say I have already answered Question 2, but I am not really sure I understand the question. Perhaps it would be best if you could restate it, and then tell us what you understand the answer to be.

Upon reading it again, I'm not quite sure what the question was either. I think it is best interpreted as "Does the Previous Question apply to, and hence prevent debate on, amendments to the preamble?", and you answered that by saying that a member can speak to an amendment to the preamble.

Did I misread you?

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Upon reading it again, I'm not quite sure what the question was either. I think it is best interpreted as "Does the Previous Question apply to, and hence prevent debate on, amendments to the preamble?", and you answered that by saying that a member can speak to an amendment to the preamble.

Did I misread you?

It appears to be more likely that I misread Question 1.

My understanding was that Question 1 dealt with nothing more than the number of times a member can speak in debate under the rules on pages 388-90 when a main motion to adopt a resolution with one or more preamble clauses is under consideration. No mention is made in Question 1 of any order for the Previous Question being in effect, and the response I posted to that question assumes that there is no such order in effect.

Perhaps we had best be clear about this before moving on to Question 2. :)

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It appears to be more likely that I misread Question 1.

My understanding was that Question 1 dealt with nothing more than the number of times a member can speak in debate under the rules on pages 388-90 when a main motion to adopt a resolution with one or more preamble clauses is under consideration. No mention is made in Question 1 of any order for the Previous Question being in effect, and the response I posted to that question assumes that there is no such order in effect.

Perhaps we had best be clear about this before moving on to Question 2. :)

Perhaps, rather than you misreading Question 1, I miswrote it. Then I wasn't paying attention to the answer. :)

Try "When the Previous Question is ordered on a main motion, and the preamble is opened for amendment, may members still debate the preamble, or only amend it?"

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Perhaps, rather than you misreading Question 1, I miswrote it. Then I wasn't paying attention to the answer. :)

Try "When the Previous Question is ordered on a main motion, and the preamble is opened for amendment, may members still debate the preamble, or only amend it?"

Question 1 (and 2, I think).

When the Previous Question is ordered on a main motion, and the preamble is opened for amendment, may members still debate the preamble, or only amend it?

Response to Question 1 (and 2).

The answer to this question depends upon the time when the motion to order the Previous Question is made and the exact wording of the motion. Members may both debate and amend the preamble after the Previous Question has been ordered if (i) the Previous Question is ordered before the preamble has been opened for amendment, and (ii) the order does not expressly state that it applies to the preamble (RONR, 11th ed., p.108, ll. 20-25; p. 202, l. 26 to p. 203, l. 3; p. 279, ll. 1-3).

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Question 3.

If the Previous Question is ordered on a motion with a preamble, are other subsidiary motions in order once the preamble is up for amendment?

Response to Question 3.

The motion to Lay on the Table is in order, and assuming that the order for the Previous Question does not apply to the preamble (see Question 1 [and 2] above), motions to Amend, to Limit or Extend Limits of Debate, and for the Previous Question may be applied to the preamble. Motions to Postpone Indefinitely, Commit or Refer, or Postpone to a Certain Time are not in order.

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Question 4.

Is it possible to move the Previous Question on a motion resolution and its preamble as one motion?

Response to Question 4.

Yes, but the motion to order the Previous Question must expressly state that it is intended to apply to the preamble as well as to the resolution.

Would "all pending questions" cut it?

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Question 5.

When a motion to Limit or Extend Limits of Debate includes an order for a vote, and the main motion has a preamble, does this behave exactly as the Previous Question would, including how it applies to amendments and other subsidiary motions?

Response to Question 5.

The short and easy answer to this question is “no”, but it isn’t very helpful.

To keep things as simple as possible, let’s assume that, at 8 P.M., while a motion to adopt the resolution which appears on page 107, lines 21-31, is immediately pending, a motion “that at 9 P.M. debate be closed and the question on the resolution be put to a vote” is adopted. Let’s further assume that, when the hour of 9 P.M. arrives, the only motion pending is the main motion. The entire hour has been spent considering and disposing of proposed amendments to the resolution, and there has been no opportunity to debate and amend the proviso. The hour of 9 P.M. having arrived, no further debate or amendment will be allowed, including no debate or amendment of the preamble, no motion to Postpone Indefinitely, to Commit or Refer, or to Postpone to a Certain Time will be in order, and the pending question must be voted on immediately (unless the adoption of the order limiting debate is reconsidered and reversed, the pending motions are laid on the table, a privileged motion or applicable incidental motion intervenes, etc.).

The point I think you may be getting at is this. If no such order limiting debate had been adopted, and, instead, a motion to order the Previous Question was adopted at 9 P.M., debate and amendment of the preamble would continue to be in order (unless a motion is adopted ordering the Previous Question on the preamble (RONR, 11th ed., p. 202, l. 26 to p. 203, l. 3).

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Question 5.

When a motion to Limit or Extend Limits of Debate includes an order for a vote, and the main motion has a preamble, does this behave exactly as the Previous Question would, including how it applies to amendments and other subsidiary motions?

Response to Question 5.

The short and easy answer to this question is “no”, but it isn’t very helpful.

To keep things as simple as possible, let’s assume that, at 8 P.M., while a motion to adopt the resolution which appears on page 107, lines 21-31, is immediately pending, a motion “that at 9 P.M. debate be closed and the question on the resolution be put to a vote” is adopted. Let’s further assume that, when the hour of 9 P.M. arrives, the only motion pending is the main motion. The entire hour has been spent considering and disposing of proposed amendments to the resolution, and there has been no opportunity to debate and amend the proviso. The hour of 9 P.M. having arrived, no further debate or amendment will be allowed, including no debate or amendment of the preamble, no motion to Postpone Indefinitely, to Commit or Refer, or to Postpone to a Certain Time will be in order, and the pending question must be voted on immediately (unless the adoption of the order limiting debate is reconsidered and reversed, the pending motions are laid on the table, a privileged motion or applicable incidental motion intervenes, etc.).

The point I think you may be getting at is this. If no such order limiting debate had been adopted, and, instead, a motion to order the Previous Question was adopted at 9 P.M., debate and amendment of the preamble would continue to be in order (unless a motion is adopted ordering the Previous Question on the preamble (RONR, 11th ed., p. 202, l. 26 to p. 203, l. 3).

Ok, this makes sense. Thanks for the work you're putting into these replies.
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Is this because "all pending questions" lacks the required specificity the rule in RONR demands, or because the preamble technically isn't pending, both, or neither? (Sorry to Sean for staying too focused on this :)

I'm leery about it because I think it may lack the required specificity.

It seems clearly to lack the required specificity if the pending resolution is being considered seriatim (p. 279, ll. 1-30), and I am simply assuming that the same degree of specificity is required under the rules on pages 202-203. In actual practice, I think I would be wise to make certain that there is no doubt about what is intended.

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I'm leery about it because I think it may lack the required specificity.

It seems clearly to lack the required specificity if the pending resolution is being considered seriatim (p. 279, ll. 1-30), and I am simply assuming that the same degree of specificity is required under the rules on pages 202-203. In actual practice, I think I would be wise to make certain that there is no doubt about what is intended.

Ok makes sense. I agree, and most certainly with your last sentence.

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