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Motion Confusion


Guest Kim

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(1) If Mr. Smith moved . . ., seconded by Ms. Doe. (2) Then Ms. Jones offered a subsitute motion, seconded by Mr. Smith. (3) Then Mr. Mike offered an amendment to the motion, seconded by Ms. Cole. What would the board be voting on? This has actually happened in a meeting and there was quite a bit confusion/disagreement on what was actually being voted on.... 1, 2, or 3????

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Got that? As Rob said in his characteristically cryptic traditionally laconic way, Kim you Original Poster (OP), you got a number of votes to take. As Kim the Original Goldsworthy (OG) pointed out, this is tricky (they call tricky "complex" in California), but if I follow this, you of course first vote on whether or not to accept (#3) Mike's proposed change. (I'm not clear whether Mike's proposed change is to Smith's original proposal, or to Jones's proposed substitute. But that might not matter. Or it might. As Kim (OG) said before I twitted him for his Californiaesque locution, and come to think of it, he said it notwithstanding that twitting -- and luvva heaven don't ask me to spell that neologism again -- it's complex.)

Remember that more #3-level proposed changes are legitimate, and are welcome to help perfect the final decision.

Then you vote on whether or not to accept (#2) Ms. Jones's proposed substitute. And it also can of course have Mike-level improvements made first. ("Mike" = 3. So I guess Jones = 2, and Smith = 1. Zounds, Guest Kim might have invented a new mathematical notation!)

Finally you've worked your way down out of Amendment City, and get to vote finally on the base main motion, in whatever form you have it in (maybe even untouched as Smith, #1 -- if I remember the names and numbers right -- first offered it, if all the proposed amendments and substitutions were rejected).

(If what I've said amounted to less than 500 words, I've probably blundered critically, as the OG implied.)

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A simple way to put it, when you have a substitute for a main motion, you perfect the original main motion, then you perfect the substitute, then you vote on whether to substitute, then you vote on whatever the main motion is at that point in time. Now, if the meeting is an evening one, order breakfast somewhere along the line. It will most likely take time.

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... but if I follow this, you of course first vote on whether or not to accept (#3) Mike's proposed change.

No, you don't.

You don't get to Mike's proposed change until many amendments later.

Example:

Chair: "It is moved and seconded that [X]."

...

Chair: It is moved and seconded to amend by substitution the following: [Y]. We are still on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the main motion? No? Then we are on the substitute amendment. Are there any amendments to the substitute amendment?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the substitute amendment? No? Then we are back on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

(Then you will vote on the Subst.)

Thus my original comment that you don't vote on the Subst. until you Do The Lazy Susan (a 1950s hit by Chubby Checker, I think). :)

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A simple way to put it, when you have a substitute for a main motion, you perfect the original main motion, then you perfect the substitute, then you vote on whether to substitute, then you vote on whatever the main motion is at that point in time. Now, if the meeting is an evening one, order breakfast somewhere along the line. It will most likely take time.

But (having just read the drama of the proposed parish house improvements on pp. 151-154), there's the added wrinkle that after perfecting the substitute, you can go back and work on the original motion some more, and, similarly, the reworking of the main motion may then suggest further perfection of the substitute to some members of the assembly. I guess that's where the order for breakfast comes in :) .

....

Chair: "It is moved and seconded that [X]."

...

Chair: It is moved and seconded to amend by substitution the following: [Y]. We are still on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the main motion? No? Then we are on the substitute amendment. Are there any amendments to the substitute amendment?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the substitute amendment? No? Then we are back on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

(Then you will vote on the Subst.)

....

Both Mr. Goldsworthy's example, and the example on RONR pp. 151-154 illustrate what seems to be a key point in this potentially confusing situation -- namely the importance of the chair clearly stating, and re-stating, what the assembly is debating and voting on at all times during the process.

I'm still having trouble picturing what the lazy susan reference has to do with it, especially when described as a 'rotation'... it seems to be a back and forth process, subject to the good judgement of the chair, to give both the original motion and the proposed substitute their fair chances to be amended/perfected.

(1) If Mr. Smith moved . . ., seconded by Ms. Doe. (2) Then Ms. Jones offered a subsitute motion, seconded by Mr. Smith. (3) Then Mr. Mike offered an amendment to the motion, seconded by Ms. Cole. What would the board be voting on? This has actually happened in a meeting and there was quite a bit confusion/disagreement on what was actually being voted on.... 1, 2, or 3????

Since both the original motion (Smith) and the substitute (Jones) need to be perfected before the assembly votes on whether to substitute, and certainly before the assembly eventually votes on actually adopting a motion, it seems the amendment (Mike) has to be dealt with first... as part of the process of perfecting whichever thing Mike is trying to amend (I'm not clear on whether he's trying to amend the original motion or the substitute). Some important rules of thumb seem to be (1) give both the original motion and the substitute a fair chance at being perfected; (2) clearly state what is being considered and/or voted on at all times during the process; (3) vote separately on each decision to be made during the process (don't erroneously lump together a vote to amend with a vote to actually adopt whatever is being amended -- those are two separate decisions).

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I'm confused. I'm sure it's me. It usually is.

Firstly, what is missing from Guest_Kim's OP is the chair stating any of the questions. Assuming he does, motion #1 would (it seems) be a main motion, motion #2 (a subsidiary motion) would be an amendment to #1, and #3 (a subsidiary motion) would be an amendment to #2. Thus, the vote goes #3 - #2 (as amended, if #3 adopted) -#1 (as amended, if #2 adopted).

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the main motion? No? Then we are on the substitute amendment. Are there any amendments to the substitute amendment?

Somewhere I recall reading that the assembly cannot consider two questions at the same time. So I'm unsure how amendments can be offered to the main motion (this motion being on the floor and before the assembly) as well as amendments to the substitute amendment (this motion also being on the floor and before the assembly, but being considered separately).

If the chair hasn't stated any of the the first two questions, then motion #1 and motion #2 have not come before the assembly, and the only motion before the assembly would be #3.

So, where am I listing to port on this? If you'd prefer to save typing and simply provide page citations, I'll do my homework there.;)

Edited as noted.

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(1) If Mr. Smith moved . . ., seconded by Ms. Doe. (2) Then Ms. Jones offered a subsitute motion, seconded by Mr. Smith. (3) Then Mr. Mike offered an amendment to the motion, seconded by Ms. Cole. What would the board be voting on? This has actually happened in a meeting and there was quite a bit confusion/disagreement on what was actually being voted on.... 1, 2, or 3????

The board would be voting on the secondary amendment moved by Mr. Mike and seconded by Mr. Cole (#3). (RONR, 10th ed., 112, lines 2-7)

No, you don't.

You don't get to Mike's proposed change until many amendments later.

Chair: It is moved and seconded to amend by substitution the following: [Y]. We are still on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

(Then you will vote on the Subst.)

Thus my original comment that you don't vote on the Subst. until you Do The Lazy Susan (a 1950s hit by Chubby Checker, I think). :)

Indeed, but it was my understanding that Mr. Mike's proposed change was a part of the lazy susan - a proposed secondary amendment to the main motion. So it would be voted on first. Ms. Jones is the one who moved the substitute.

So, where am I listing to port on this? If you'd prefer to save typing and simply provide page citations, I'll do my homework there.;)

Your homework is RONR, 10th ed., pgs. 146-154.

Why we've all had a lengthy discussion on the process for the motion to substitute, while the original poster simply asked which question was immediately pending, is beyond me, but that's good homework anyway. :)

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No, you don't.

You don't get to Mike's proposed change until many amendments later.

Example:

Chair: "It is moved and seconded that [X]."

...

Chair: It is moved and seconded to amend by substitution the following: [Y]. We are still on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the main motion? No? Then we are on the substitute amendment. Are there any amendments to the substitute amendment?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the substitute amendment? No? Then we are back on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

(Then you will vote on the Subst.)

Thus my original comment that you don't vote on the Subst. until you Do The Lazy Susan (a 1950s hit by Chubby Checker, I think). smile.gif

I think this is either misleading or incorrect. The real procedure is given in RONR (10th ed.), p. 147, ll. 18-26. An example is given on pp. 151, 152.

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I think this is either misleading or incorrect. The real procedure is given in RONR (10th ed.), p. 147, ll. 18-26. An example is given on pp. 151, 152.

Rob, in what way is my example different from page 151-152? - On page 151, the chair remains on the Main Motion, and sets aside the substitution so that amendments to the Main Motion are taken first.

Isn't that what my example does exactly?

Are you implying that the substitution is handled ahead of the Main Motion on page 151's example?

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Rob, in what way is my example different from page 151-152? - On page 151, the chair remains on the Main Motion, and sets aside the substitution so that amendments to the Main Motion are taken first.

Isn't that what my example does exactly?

Are you implying that the substitution is handled ahead of the Main Motion on page 151's example?

The heart of your error seems to lie in the statement:

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

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The heart of your error seems to lie in the statement:

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

While RONR doesn't specify a strict alternation between consideration of amendments to the pending motion and the substitute, it does specify that the chair can choose to accept motions to amend only the pending motion, then those for only the substitute, and then may accept motions to amend either. RONR (10th ed.), p. 147, l. 18-22

I can see how the alternating process may make it easier for the chair to keep the assembly informed of the current state of the two motions.

As to the original post, the way you know what you're actually voting on is the question that the chair states when taking the vote. The rest of the discussion in this thread is the order that the chair should take the votes.

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The heart of your error seems to lie in the statement:

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

Q. Are you implying that, once the Substitute motion has no more interest by the members in amending it, that the chair will rule "out of order" a motion to amend the Main Motion?

I.e., That you get only one bite at the apple(s)?

That you do not, or cannot, toggle from MM to Subst.?

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Q. Are you implying that, once the Substitute motion has no more interest by the members in amending it, that the chair will rule "out of order" a motion to amend the Main Motion?

I.e., That you get only one bite at the apple(s)?

That you do not, or cannot, toggle from MM to Subst.?

After the assembly has had an opportunity to amend the original motion and the proposed substitute exclusively, the chair should then ask for any further secondary amendments to either the main motion or the substitute. (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 147, lines 21-22) It is not necessary to continue alternating between them.

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No, you don't.

You don't get to Mike's proposed change until many amendments later.

Example:

Chair: "It is moved and seconded that [X]."

...

Chair: It is moved and seconded to amend by substitution the following: [Y]. We are still on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the main motion? No? Then we are on the substitute amendment. Are there any amendments to the substitute amendment?

...

Chair: (after an amendment) Are there more amendments to the substitute amendment? No? Then we are back on the main motion. Are there any amendments to the main motion?

...

(You rotate, lazy-susan style, alternating on having the MM pending and having the Subst. pending; until the assembly no longer wishes to amend either the MM nor the Subst.)

(Then you will vote on the Subst.)

The above is all wrong.

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending. What is immediately pending is either the motion to substitute itself, or a secondary amendment. Secondary amendments can be applied either to the text of the main motion or to the text of the substitute.

It is true that if different members wish to offer different types of secondary amendment, there is a priority in which they are entitled to do so, if the chair wishes to enforce it. But we shouldn't let that particular rule occlude the fact that unless such competition arises and the chair declines to state the motion on a secondary amendment as soon it has been moved and seconded, the three levels of motions permitted to be pending at one time are voted on in the reverse order that they were made (secondary amendment, then primary amendment, then main motion).

Addendum: Actually, the motions are always voted on in that order, but by this point in the thread, that main point is almost beside the point. :-)

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The above is all wrong.

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending. What is immediately pending is either the motion to substitute itself, or a secondary amendment. Secondary amendments can be applied either to the text of the main motion or to the text of the substitute.

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending. What is immediately pending is either the motion to substitute itself, or a secondary amendment.

Shmuel, how can you say that, in light of page 151?

The main motion remains pending (called "the pending resolution" per page 151's example), even after the chair states the substitution.

Read page 151 - RONR's own example.

Page 151 says that a Main Motion is pending = "Resolved, that the Paris Federation undertake the construction and equipping of a new service wing for the Paris House, to be financed as far as possible by a mortgage on the present building."

• Note that the above is the Main Motion when the script of RONR begins.

1.) MEMBER #A (obtaining the floor): I move to substitute for the pending resolution the following: "Resolved, That the Paris Board be directed to engage appropriate professional consultants [to report on] feasible methods of financing, and maintenance of a new service wing for the Paris House." (Second.)

• Note that Member #A's motion is the Substitute.

2.) CHAIR: It is moved and seconded to amend by substituting for the pending resolution the following: [reading the substitute submitted by Member #A]. The motion to substitute proposes that the resolution just read shall come before the assembly in place of the pending resolution. [Debate.]

• Note that the chair has stated the motion, which was (a.) moved; (b.) seconded.

• Note that debate followed.

3.) MEMBER #L: (who favors the pending resolution and is, therefore, opposed to the motion to substitute - obtaining the floor:) I move to amend the proposed substitute by adding the words "within twenty days". (Second.)

• Note that it is moved and seconded to amend the Substitute adversely by Member #L's hindering new deadline.

4.) CHAIR: The chair believes it will be preferable to take any amendments to the pending resolution first, as permitted under the rules. Such amendments, if adopted, will affect the wording in which the pending resolution will come to a final vote if the motion to substitute fails. Accordingly, before entertaining the amendment just offered, the chair will call for any amendments to the pending resolution, which will be first reread. The pending resolution is as follows. "Resolved, that the Paris Federation undertake the construction and equipping of a new service wing for the Paris House, to be financed as far as possible by a mortgage on the present building." Are there any amendments to the pending resolution?

• Note that the term "pending resolution" refers to the Main Motion.

• Note that the Substitute was (a.) moved; (b.) seconded; (c.) stated by the chair. (See script #2 above.)

• Note that the chair isn't entertaining amendments to the Substitute. - Despite the fact that the Substitute was stated after the Main Motion.

• Note that the chair is entertaining amendments to the Main Motion.

Thus, it was false of you to assert:

"From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute ... until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending..."

Instead, the chair has the discretion to put off the Substitute completely, while amendments to the Main Motion (i.e., what the script calls the "pending resolution") are prompted for.

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Shmuel, how can you say that, in light of page 151?

The main motion remains pending (called "the pending resolution" per page 151's example), even after the chair states the substitution.

Read page 151 - RONR's own example.

[ ..... ]

• Note that the term "pending resolution" refers to the Main Motion.

• Note that the Substitute was (a.) moved; (b.) seconded; (c.) stated by the chair. (See script #2 above.)

• Note that the chair isn't entertaining amendments to the Substitute. - Despite the fact that the Substitute was stated after the Main Motion.

• Note that the chair is entertaining amendments to the Main Motion.

Thus, it was false of you to assert:

"From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute ... until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending..."

Instead, the chair has the discretion to put off the Substitute completely, while amendments to the Main Motion (i.e., what the script calls the "pending resolution") are prompted for.

Kim,

The only excuse I can offer for saying what I said is that it is true. ;)

Saying that the chair is putting off the substitute completely is the wrong way to look at it.

Yes, the resolution is, of course, pending, and its words are indeed open to amendment. But it is not immediately pending. The immediately pending motion is the motion to substitute. See p. 146, line 31 to p. 147, line 8:

A primary amendment to substitute is . . . open to debate at all times while it is pending with no secondary amendment pending; and such debate may go fully into the merits of both the original text and the substitute, since this is necessary to determine the desirability of the primary amendment. But for purposes of secondary amendment, the motion to substitute is looked upon as resolved into its two elements, the paragraph to be struck out and the paragraph to be inserted.

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Kim,

The only excuse I can offer for saying what I said is that it is true. wink.gif

Saying that the chair is putting off the substitute completely is the wrong way to look at it.

Yes, the resolution is, of course, pending, and its words are indeed open to amendment. But it is not immediately pending. The immediately pending motion is the motion to substitute. See p. 146, line 31 to p. 147, line 8:

A primary amendment to substitute is . . . open to debate at all times while it is pending with no secondary amendment pending; and such debate may go fully into the merits of both the original text and the substitute, since this is necessary to determine the desirability of the primary amendment. But for purposes of secondary amendment, the motion to substitute is looked upon as resolved into its two elements, the paragraph to be struck out and the paragraph to be inserted.

I completely agree, Mr. Gerber.

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Yes, the resolution is, of course, pending, and its words are indeed open to amendment.

But it is not immediately pending.

The immediately pending motion is the motion to substitute.

See p. 146, line 31 to p. 147, line 8:

A primary amendment to substitute is . . . open to debate at all times while it is pending with no secondary amendment pending; and such debate may go fully into the merits of both the original text and the substitute, since this is necessary to determine the desirability of the primary amendment. But for purposes of secondary amendment, the motion to substitute is looked upon as resolved into its two elements, the paragraph to be struck out and the paragraph to be inserted.

Red herring. Irrelevant citation. "Debate" is not the issue.

"... open to debate at all times ..."

• Debate has nothing to do with "which one is immediately pending."

"... and such debate may go fully in the merits of both ..."

• Debate can go into both. So what has debate on both got to do with the issue of "immediately pending"? (It doesn't.)

"... the motion to substitute is looked upon as resolved into its two elements, the paragraph to be struck out and the paragraph to be inserted ..."

• The element of "striking out" and the element of "inserting" has nothing to do with the issue of "which one is immediately pending."

You have cited an irrelevant text.

Read page 151 again.

• You cannot amend the MM unless it is immediately pending.

• You cannot amend the Subst. unless it is immediately pending.

The chair chooses which one is immediately pending.

And the chair chose the MM, per page 151's example.

The maker of the amendment cannot compel the chair to entertain the Subst. ahead of the MM, as page 151 makes clear. (Indeed, as one of member's motion attempts to do exactly that, in vain.)

To repeat: Debate, as already cited, can go into both the MM and the Subst. So any rule citation re debate isn't going to draw the line necessary to tell which one is immediately pending - which one is open to amendment at that time.

The chair gets to choose. And the choice in the example on page 151 isn't the Subst. - despite being moved after the MM.

And that was my point. - Substitutions are not handled so that amendments to the Substitute are handled first, necessarily. - The handling isn't nested.

It is swapped in/out; like football squads on 3rd down and 4th down; nickel defense or special teams. Linebackers out; Defensive backs in.

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Read page 151 again.

• You cannot amend the MM unless it is immediately pending.

• You cannot amend the Subst. unless it is immediately pending.

The chair chooses which one is immediately pending.

Well, you have it exactly backwards. The fact that amendments to the wording of the main motion are in order while the motion to substitute is immediately pending -- and the main motion is not immediately pending -- is what is noteworthy about the procedure for considering a motion to substitute.

RONR says that while a motion to substitute is pending, amendments to the wording of the main motion are in order. You have decided that this is impossible unless the main motion is immediately pending, but RONR says no such thing.

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Well, you have it exactly backwards. The fact that amendments to the wording of the main motion are in order while the motion to substitute is immediately pending -- and the main motion is not immediately pending -- is what is noteworthy about the procedure for considering a motion to substitute.

RONR says that while a motion to substitute is pending, amendments to the wording of the main motion are in order. You have decided that this is impossible unless the main motion is immediately pending, but RONR says no such thing.

Do not confuse (a.) making the motion; vs. (b.) processing the motion.

Page 151 shows that a member can do #A.

Page 151 shows that a member cannot compel #B.

Remember, I was correcting your statement:

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending.

And page 151 shows that your statement is not true.

The chair CAN state the proposed amendment, and just leave it idle, while continuing on with the "pending resolution" (the terminology of the example on page 151 which refers to the original main motion).

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Do not confuse (a.) making the motion; vs. (b.) processing the motion.

Page 151 shows that a member can do #A.

Page 151 shows that a member cannot compel #B.

Remember, I was correcting your statement:

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending.

And page 151 shows that your statement is not true.

The chair CAN state the proposed amendment, and just leave it idle, while continuing on with the "pending resolution" (the terminology of the example on page 151 which refers to the original main motion).

Attempting to correct a correct statement is not a good idea. :rolleyes:

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Do not confuse (a.) making the motion; vs. (b.) processing the motion.

Page 151 shows that a member can do #A.

Page 151 shows that a member cannot compel #B.

Remember, I was correcting your statement:

From the time the chair states the question on a motion to substitute (applied to a main motion) until the vote is taken on it, the main motion is never immediately pending.

And page 151 shows that your statement is not true.

The chair CAN state the proposed amendment, and just leave it idle, while continuing on with the "pending resolution" (the terminology of the example on page 151 which refers to the original main motion).

Nothing said on RONR, 10th ed., pg. 151 contradicts Mr. Gerber's statement. The main motion is indeed the "pending resolution." It is not, however, "immediately pending." Mr. Gerber's statement is also supported by RONR, 10th ed., pg. 57, lines 15-20.

At this point, I sincerely hope the original poster went away happily after Mr. Elsman's correct, concise, and complete answer and has avoided the subsequent debate in this thread. :)

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