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Alexis Hunt

Reconsideration of a motion to Postpone Definitely

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Per SDC 8, the motion to Postpone Definitely is reconsiderable. But how does this motion actually work?

SDC 1 a) of the motion to Reconsider states, unqualified, that the motion can be made at any time (assuming that it is generally in order), with precedence even higher than adjournment. So it can be made at almost any time. However, moving to SDC 2, we begin to encounter an issue. SDC 2 states that the motion to Reconsider can be applied to an adhering subsidiary motion (such as Postpone Definitely) only if the reconsideration takes place while the main motion adhered to is either pending or itself being reconsidered. Certainly the latter cannot apply, as the main motion has not been finally disposed of and therefore cannot be reconsidered. So it must be pending during reconsideration.

If we skip a few pages ahead to p. 325, we have a section that discusses two possibilities for reconsidering subsidiary, privileged, incidental motions: those made when the main motion was pending, and those made when it has been acted upon. Certainly, it is not the former, as the main motion was not pending once the motion to Postpone Definitely was adopted. But most of this section is inapplicable, and relates largely to when a motion must be made to reconsider multiple at once (such as a secondary amendment, or after the main motion has been finally disposed of). The final paragraph, on p. 329, is technically applicable: it discusses what happens after the main question to which it adheres has been postponed to a certain time. However, it instructs us to consider the motion to Reconsider when the main motion comes again before the assembly. This would make the motion to Reconsider pointless, however, since by the time it was under consideration, its effect would have been fully carried out. So this interpretation cannot be correct.

To further complicate things, p. 321 tells us that making a motion to reconsider suspends action depending on the result of the vote. The postponement of the motion was a result of the vote. This would imply that the motion again becomes pending as soon as the motion is moved, even if there is currently business with higher precedence pending. Presumably, it would be pending with lower precedence than the current business, meaning that after the completion of the current business, then the motion to Reconsider is taken up as if it had been made while the main motion was pending. This resolution might be the correct one, but it has strange implications. This logic would apply equally to the motion to Postpone Indefinitely, which would imply that while a motion to Reconsider a vote on a main motion could be taken up at a time chosen by the mover (p. 323), reconsidering a vote to postpone indefinitely, which also finally disposes of a main question, must be reconsidered as soon as no other business is immediately pending. This interpretation is, however, potentially implied by the text of p. 323 l. 10 which specifically refers to a motion "that involves a main motion". Nonetheless, it seems like this outcome is rather outside the bounds of those contemplated, and relies on a rather technical interpretation of rules that are obscure even to those who like obscure rules.

It seems to me that, regardless of the preferred interpretation, the section on reconsideration of subsidiary, privileged, and incidental motions on pp. 325-329 ought to include a third section addressing motions whose effect was to dispose of the main motion, namely Postpone Indefinitely, Postpone Definitely, and Refer. My preferred outcome would be that such motion to Reconsider is treated, for the purposes of calling up, as would be a motion to Reconsider the main motion, and the effect of calling it up is to make the main motion and adhering motions pending again, for the duration of its consideration. If the motion to Reconsider is adopted, proceedings continue on the main motion, and if it is negatived, it is once again postponed or referred. The moving of such a motion to Reconsider would not suspend the effect of making the main motion no longer pending, but it would still suspend the referral to a committee such that it could not undertake any work (and may not be constituted, for a special committee) until the reconsideration concludes or the suspension expires.

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41 minutes ago, Alexis Hunt said:

SDC 2 states that the motion to Reconsider can be applied to an adhering subsidiary motion (such as Postpone Definitely) only if the reconsideration takes place while the main motion adhered to is either pending or itself being reconsidered. Certainly the latter cannot apply, as the main motion has not been finally disposed of and therefore cannot be reconsidered. So it must be pending during reconsideration.

If the assembly votes to reconsider an adopted motion to Postpone Definitely, then the main motion will also be pending during the reconsideration, so that if the motion to Postpone is rejected, the main motion (or whatever adhering motion was immediately pending when Postpone was first moved) will become immediately pending.

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Is it not true, though, that once debate has begun on another motion, reconsideration will not be possible, because the motion to postpone will have been executed? RONR (11th Ed.), p. 318, item 2 c).

Edited by reelsman
Added citation.

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15 minutes ago, reelsman said:

Is it not true, though, that once debate has begun on another motion, reconsideration will not be possible, because the motion to postpone will have been executed?

No. The book refers in a number of places to reconsidering a postponement (see e.g. p. 112, ll. 28-31). I don't think it is alluding only to the brief interval after the adoption of Postpone and before other business is introduced, especially reading the text of SDC 8 of Postpone to a Certain Time and comparing the adjacent sentences to each other:

An affirmative vote on the motion to Postpone can be reconsidered. A negative vote on the motion to Postpone can be reconsidered only until such time as progress in business or debate has been sufficient to make it essentially a new question. Thereafter, the motion can be renewed (see pp. 339–40).

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I think I want to disagree (at my own peril!). There is a footnote at the end of item 2 c) on p. 318 that makes quite a point of the exception for Limit or Extend the Limits of Debate. Were Postpone able to be reconsidered after having been partially carried out, I would have expected to see another exception in the same footnote.

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18 minutes ago, reelsman said:

I think I want to disagree (at my own peril!). There is a footnote at the end of item 2 c) on p. 318 that makes quite a point of the exception for Limit or Extend the Limits of Debate. Were Postpone able to be reconsidered after having been partially carried out, I would have expected to see another exception in the same footnote.

I would have expected so as well, but that doesn't change my opinion about what the actual rules are.

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Guest Zev

Would it make any difference if during the reconsideration that the motion to Postpone Definitely was amended and a different time was set? In other words, in your opinion is such a thing possible?

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Guest Zev

What about column "Can It Be Reconsidered" for items #62 and #63 on tinted pages 22/23 and SDC #8 on page 182?

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Yes, both Mr. Gerber and Zev have convinced me (especially with their citations—thank you, both) that an affirmative vote on a subsidiary motion to Postpone can, indeed, be reconsidered within the normal frame of time. I am still a lot less clear why this is not an exception to the rule on p. 318, item 2 c).

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Yes, I tend to agree that the intent of the rules here is clear, but I think that the exact mechanics are under-specified. For instance, I agree with Mr. Gerber that, during reconsideration of a motion to Postpone Definitely, the main motion will be pending. And furthermore, as I explained above, I believe that it is not pending prior to the calling up of the motion to Reconsider. But I cannot find text to actually support this point of view other than trying to navigate and interpret the morass of text on the motion to Reconsider.

It seems to me, after considering responses here (particularly Mr. Gerber's), and some more examination of the book, that the logic of the motion to Reconsider is as follows:

  1. When, made, the motion to Reconsider suspends any action being taken on the basis of the motion to be reconsidered. It does not, however, directly affect what business may currently be pending.*
  2. When taking up a motion to Reconsider a vote, the motion to which that vote applied and any motions to which it adheres must be pending. This can be accomplished in one of three ways:
    1. The motion is already pending.
    2. The vote to be reconsidered was responsible for disposing of the motion in question. In this case, when the motion to Reconsider is taken up, the motion becomes pending again.
    3. The motion in question was disposed of (possibly temporarily) through another vote. In this case, the motion to Reconsider may be made to also reconsider the vote disposing of that motion. This may be required if the motion will not become pending again through another mechanism.
  3. A motion to Reconsider can be taken up when the main motion to which it adheres (either directly, in the case of a motion to Reconsider a vote on a main motion, or indirectly, in the case of a motion to Reconsider a vote on a motion adhering to a main motion) is either pending or would be in order to be moved.
  4. If a motion to Reconsider can be taken up when it is made, or if the main motion to which it adheres becomes pending through some other mechanism, it is done automatically.**
  5. Otherwise, a motion to Reconsider can be called up at a time when it can be taken up.
  6. When a motion to Reconsider a vote is taken up, it makes motion(s) to which it applies pending as per 2.2 and 2.3 above. They become pending at the appropriate point in the precedence, coming after other pending motions of equal precedence.
  7. A motion to Reconsider, made in the assembly, is incompatible with committee consideration. In particular, when a question comes before the assembly by way of committee report or discharge, it comes with no motions to Reconsider attached, and any previously made are discarded.

I've done my best to capture here the mechanics explicitly addressed in the text of RONR and discussed here. In particular, this provides an answer to how reconsideration of a motion to Postpone Definitely works: it is responsible for temporarily disposing of the main motion so, per 2.2, it makes the main motion become pending again when it is considered. Point 3 also addresses that the motion is taken up in accordance with the timing for the main motion, even though the main motion is not actually being reconsidered.

Some of this is by inference from the rules. In particular, p. 329 ll. 9-23 address what happens where the main motion is postponed definitely or is referred to committee. The above is compatible with this: point 4 covers a motion postponed definitely by way of "becomes pending through some other mechanism", and point 7 covers that a motion cannot be made to reconsider a motion standing referred to a committee, because it would be useless. But there are other cases left unaddressed in the book which are covered above. Most notably, what happens if a motion is made to Reconsider an adhering motion while the main motion is left over as unfinished business or was laid on the table? It seems to me that these should be similar to a definite postponement, hence the general language I put in point 4.

There are also a few edge cases worth further discussion with respect to temporary disposal of a motion. First off, if a motion has been postponed definitely, the rules are clear that a motion to reconsider a previous amendment to that question can be made, to be taken up when the postponed motion comes back for consideration. But is it in order to also reconsider the motion to postpone at the same time, or must two separate motions be made? Similarly for motions referred to committee, but in this case the adhering question cannot be reconsidered until, at least, the motion to Reconsider the referral becomes pending. The book is unclear on how to handle this. It may well be easiest to take the view that such motions could be offered as a single motion, but divisible on the demand of any member. But this is not a perfect fit, since the decision on the motion to reconsider the disposing motion affects how (or, in the case of a referral, if) to proceed on the other motion to Reconsider. That said, there is always a consistent result that can be obtained by moving to reconsider the adhering question during consideration of the motion to Reconsider the disposing motion. There is also the additional wrinkle of how to handle when the main question is on the table, since Lay On the Table is not reconsiderable but the motion must instead be taken from the table by that motion. But again, since Lay On the Table does not make the question pending again, does the above logic work? Hmm... 

* It may, however, prevent a special or general order from being taken up at the specified time if applied to the motion which set that time.

** This should probably actually be at the option of the mover, at least in the case where the main motion has been disposed of and therefore isn't pending. In such a case, the mover of the motion to Reconsider could make another motion, such as a motion to adjourn, and move the motion to Reconsider in response, so as to prevent the motion from being automatically taken up and allowing it to be delayed later in the day. Certainly as the chair I would assist a member in making such a motion so as to let them accomplish the desired effect.

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Ms Hunt, before I wade through all this, and returning to your original question, have you focused on what is said on page 319, lines 10-14?. We are advised that "pending", as used in this context, includes a main motion that has been voted on and is being reconsidered at the same time as the motion to Postpone that adhered to it.

 

Edited by Daniel H. Honemann
Removed the last paragraph.

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That's a good question, and it tripped me up too originally. But on p. 325, ll. 31-33 clearly specify motions to reconsider moved while the main motion is pending, which does not directly have anything to do with what is pending when the motion is taken up. The effect of the motion to Postpone Definitely is to dispose of the main motion temporarily, which makes it no longer pending. And certainly once the main motion becomes pending again at the specified time, it would be out of order to reconsider the postponement since the motion would have no effect. So a motion to reconsider a motion to Postpone Definitely must necessarily be moved while the main motion to which it applies is not pending.

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Becoming serious for a change, and at least beginning to take up Ms. Hunt's enumerated assertions one-by-one, I respectfully suggest that the assertion made in No. 1 is not necessarily so. For example, if a motion to Postpone has been rejected, and the immediately pending motion is a motion to Amend, a motion to reconsider the vote on the motion to Postpone will be taken up immediately, thus directly affecting the business that is currently pending. 

Have I misinterpreted what is said in 1.?

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5 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Becoming serious for a change, and at least beginning to take up Ms. Hunt's enumerated assertions one-by-one, I respectfully suggest that the assertion made in No. 1 is not necessarily so. For example, if a motion to Postpone has been rejected, and the immediately pending motion is a motion to Amend, a motion to reconsider the vote on the motion to Postpone will be taken up immediately, thus directly affecting the business that is currently pending. 

Have I misinterpreted what is said in 1.?

Ah yes, you're correct. The intent, which I didn't commit to words properly, is that it is not the making of the motion which affects pending business but, rather, the taking up. It just so happens that the motion is taken up immediately. So I agree that that is a mistake in what I wrote.

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2 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

Ah yes, you're correct. The intent, which I didn't commit to words properly, is that it is not the making of the motion which affects pending business but, rather, the taking up. It just so happens that the motion is taken up immediately. So I agree that that is a mistake in what I wrote.

Actually, now that I focus on exactly what you posted (after you were kind enough to explain it to me), I think you are correct. The mere making of a motion to Reconsider does not directly affect what business may currently be pending (except for the necessary interruption of its consideration). It is, of course, the chair's stating of the question on the motion to Reconsider as being pending that has such an affect, which may or may not occur immediately.

I suppose the point being made is that, unlike other motions, the mere making of a motion to Reconsider does have a very significant effect (suspension of all action that depends on the result of the vote proposed to be reconsidered), but it seems to me to be a rather round-about way of making the point. 

Or perhaps I'm still missing something. It happens fairly often these days.

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14 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Actually, now that I focus on exactly what you posted (after you were kind enough to explain it to me), I think you are correct. The mere making of a motion to Reconsider does not directly affect what business may currently be pending (except for the necessary interruption of its consideration). It is, of course, the chair's stating of the question on the motion to Reconsider as being pending that has such an affect, which may or may not occur immediately.

I suppose the point being made is that, unlike other motions, the mere making of a motion to Reconsider does have a very significant effect (suspension of all action that depends on the result of the vote proposed to be reconsidered), but it seems to me to be a rather round-about way of making the point. 

Or perhaps I'm still missing something. It happens fairly often these days.

I agree with the first pagaraph. To address your second paragraph, the reason for writing item 1 the way that I did is to specify clearly that the suspensive effect does not change the pending business before the assembly. Again referring to definite postponement, when a motion is postponed definitely it a) ceases to be pending and b) becomes a general order for the specified time. Moving to reconsider the postponement suspends b), but if it were to suspend a), then the motion to postpone would become pending again. Or, at least, that is the argument I intend to foreclose.

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I’ve reviewed 2. as carefully as I can, and I’m afraid that I’m missing something because I don’t know what it is attempting to explain. It begins by saying:

“When taking up a motion to Reconsider a vote, the motion to which that vote applied and any motions to which it adheres must be pending.”

As I understand it, the taking up of a motion to Reconsider causes the motion to Reconsider to be immediately pending, and it is the adoption of a motion to Reconsider that causes the motion or motions to be reconsidered to be pending.

 

I had previously posted a different response relating to 2., but I had gotten it so bollixed up that I have removed it. Hopefully, this one isn't quite so bad. As a matter of fact, I guess it would be best for me to either remove or fix all of my previous responses where necessary, and so I shall endeavor to do so. 🙂

 

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Dealing generally with reconsideration of a motion to Postpone:

If a motion to postpone a main motion is rejected, and a motion to reconsider the vote rejecting it is made while the main motion to which it was applied is still pending, the rules on pages 325-327 apply.

If a motion to postpone a main motion is rejected, and a motion to reconsider the vote rejecting it is made after the main motion to which it was applied has been finally disposed of (by adoption, rejection, or indefinite postponement), the rules on pages 327-329 apply. In this instance, the vote which finally disposed of the main motion must also be reconsidered, and so the motion to reconsider will cover both the vote rejecting the motion to postpone and the vote which finally disposed of the main motion.

In my opinion, if a motion to postpone a main motion is adopted, and a motion is thereafter made to reconsider this vote, determination of the times when this motion to reconsider can be taken up is governed by the same rules as would govern reconsideration of a vote finally disposing of the motion which was postponed. In other words, it is treated as if the adopted motion to postpone had finally disposed of the motion postponed. Adoption of the motion to reconsider the vote on the motion to postpone places this motion immediately before the assembly "in the exact position it occupied the moment before it was voted on originally." (p. 324, ll. 23-27)

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17 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I’ve reviewed 2. as carefully as I can, and I’m afraid that I’m missing something because I don’t know what it is attempting to explain. It begins by saying:

“When taking up a motion to Reconsider a vote, the motion to which that vote applied and any motions to which it adheres must be pending.”

As I understand it, the taking up of a motion to Reconsider causes the motion to Reconsider to be immediately pending, and it is the adoption of a motion to Reconsider that causes the motion or motions to be reconsidered to be pending.

This rule is taken from p. 319, ll. 9-13, which says that the "reconsideration" must take place while the main motion is pending. Just in case this is a potential point of disagreement: I take "reconsideration" to mean "the assembly's consideration of the motion to Reconsider" here.

11 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Dealing generally with reconsideration of a motion to Postpone:

If a motion to postpone a main motion is rejected, and a motion to reconsider the vote rejecting it is made while the main motion to which it was applied is still pending, the rules on pages 325-327 apply.

If a motion to postpone a main motion is rejected, and a motion to reconsider the vote rejecting it is made after the main motion to which it was applied has been finally disposed of (by adoption, rejection, or indefinite postponement), the rules on pages 327-329 apply. In this instance, the vote which finally disposed of the main motion must also be reconsidered, and so the motion to reconsider will cover both the vote rejecting the motion to postpone and the vote which finally disposed of the main motion.

In my opinion, if a motion to postpone a main motion is adopted, and a motion is thereafter made to reconsider this vote, determination of the times when this motion to reconsider can be taken up is governed by the same rules as would govern reconsideration of a vote finally disposing of the motion which was postponed. In other words, it is treated as if the adopted motion to postpone had finally disposed of the motion postponed. Adoption of the motion to reconsider the vote on the motion to postpone places this motion immediately before the assembly "in the exact position it occupied the moment before it was voted on originally." (p. 324, ll. 23-27)

I believe I agree with you that this is the proper procedure, and that the first two paragraphs are supported by the text.  For the third paragraph, I think that that is by far the most sensible interpretation (and I think your wording is far better than anything I could have come up with to describe it, given that I've tried several times and failed!), but I feel that it isn't directly supported by the text---there is nothing that directs us to this as-if rule except for careful interpretation and a good dose of common sense.

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Guest Zev
6 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

This rule is taken from p. 319, ll. 9-13, which says that the "reconsideration" must take place while the main motion is pending. Just in case this is a potential point of disagreement: I take "reconsideration" to mean "the assembly's consideration of the motion to Reconsider" here.

Ms. Hunt, you are not reading this correctly. The gentleman said,

On ‎7‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 3:26 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

As I understand it, the taking up of a motion to Reconsider causes the motion to Reconsider to be immediately pending, and it is the adoption of a motion to Reconsider that causes the motion or motions to be reconsidered to be pending.

 

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5 hours ago, Alexis Hunt said:

This rule is taken from p. 319, ll. 9-13, which says that the "reconsideration" must take place while the main motion is pending. Just in case this is a potential point of disagreement: I take "reconsideration" to mean "the assembly's consideration of the motion to Reconsider" here.

I don't blame you in the least. It is entirely understandable to think that, when an assembly has under consideration an immediately pending motion to Reconsider, it is reconsidering its previous vote on the motion proposed to be reconsidered. Many have done so in the past (I include myself among them), and many will do so in the future.

But this is not the case. When an assembly has under consideration an immediately pending motion to Reconsider, the question it is deciding is whether or not it will reconsider its previous vote, and only if this motion is adopted will reconsideration begin.

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23 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

If a motion to postpone a main motion is rejected, and a motion to reconsider the vote rejecting it is made after the main motion to which it was applied has been finally disposed of (by adoption, rejection, or indefinite postponement), the rules on pages 327-329 apply. In this instance, the vote which finally disposed of the main motion must also be reconsidered, and so the motion to reconsider will cover both the vote rejecting the motion to postpone and the vote which finally disposed of the main motion.

As an alternative, could one move to reconsider just the vote that finally disposed of the main motion? If that is adopted and the main motion becomes the immediately pending question, then one could Renew the motion to Postpone Definitely (as there has clearly been material progress in business or debate).

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26 minutes ago, Atul Kapur said:

As an alternative, could one move to reconsider just the vote that finally disposed of the main motion? If that is adopted and the main motion becomes the immediately pending question, then one could Renew the motion to Postpone Definitely (as there has clearly been material progress in business or debate).

Yes, he can do so (assuming he voted on the prevailing side when the main motion was voted on), but it seems unlikely that he will want to do so if he really wants to have the main motioned postponed instead of being finally disposed of. If he moves to reconsider the vote rejecting postponement, debate on the motion to reconsider will have to focus on the advisability of postponement, which is what he wants to talk about, but if he moves to reconsider only the vote on the main motion, debate on the motion to reconsider will have to focus on the merits of the main motion itself.

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11 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I don't blame you in the least. It is entirely understandable to think that, when an assembly has under consideration an immediately pending motion to Reconsider, it is reconsidering its previous vote on the motion proposed to be reconsidered. Many have done so in the past (I include myself among them), and many will do so in the future.

But this is not the case. When an assembly has under consideration an immediately pending motion to Reconsider, the question it is deciding is whether or not it will reconsider its previous vote, and only if this motion is adopted will reconsideration begin.

Ahhhh, ok. Thank you for the clarification. I think this doesn't affect the rest of my post above, though, and I agree with you in the rest. I think that pp. 327-328=9 should be edited to make clear that the rules apply to other motions which temporarily, but not finally, dispose of a motion.

Actually, now that I look, I'm not clear that the rules are clearly specified even for indefinite postponement. On close reading, pp. 327-329 seems only to apply to motions that did not dispose of the main motion. p. 322, ll. 15-19 states that a motion may be taken up when it could have been made originally. We seem to be in agreement that a motion to reconsider an affirmative vote on a definite or indefinite postponement is taken up immediately if no business is pending. But subsidiary motions cannot be made when no business is pending. Is there language somewhere else that I'm missing specifying when a motion to reconsider an affirmative vote on a motion to postpone a motion indefinitely can be taken up?

I note that, similarly, p. 329, ll. 1-8 is clear that a motion to reconsider a series which includes a vote on a main motion can be taken up when a motion to reconsider the main motion alone could be, however, no mention is made of a series including an affirmative vote on a motion to postpone indefinitely.

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