House Committee Markups: Commonly Used Motions and Requests
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
House committee markups generally are held to consider legislation. During a markup,
committees follow House rules and their individual committee rules to ensure proper
parliamentary procedure. This report identifies motions commonly used and requests frequently
heard during a markup. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list. This report will be updated if
rules or procedures change.
djourn: The motion to adjourn is highly privileged and not debatable. The motion is not
subject to a motion to table. A chair cannot unilaterally adjourn.
If a motion to adjourn is made, the following steps would be taken:
A member moves that the committee “do now adjourn.”
The chair must recognize the member to make the motion and then puts the question: “As
many as are in favor of the motion to adjourn...”
Intervening business must occur before the motion can be made again. A quorum need not be
Amendments En Bloc: Amendments that touch the bill in more than one place are not in order.
However, by unanimous consent, such amendments can be considered en bloc, that is, as if they
were a single amendment.
Appeal the Ruling of the Chair: Any member may appeal a ruling of the chair, simply by
saying,”I appeal the ruling of the chair.” However, decisions (1) ruling actions out of order as
dilatory, (2) involving recognition of members, and (3) concerning the appropriate timeliness of
actions are not subject to appeal. Appeals from decisions on the priority of business and the
germaneness of debate are not debatable. All other appeals are debatable under the five-minute
rule. To counter a challenge to the chair’s ruling, another member can move to table (kill) the
appeal. The motion to table is not debatable.
If the ruling of the chair is appealed, the following steps would be taken:
A member supporting the chair would immediately move to table the appeal.
The chair calls the vote on the motion to table.
If no motion to table is made, the chair would call the question on the appeal: “Shall the
ruling of the chair stand as the ruling of the committee?”
Conference, Authorization to Go To: To avoid possible objection on the floor to unanimous
consent requests to go to conference, a committee can, at the time a bill is initially reported,
authorize the chair to make a motion at the appropriate time to send the bill to conference.
A committee member would move, “Pursuant to Rule XXII, clause 1, the committee
authorizes the chairman to offer such motions as may be necessary in the House to go to
conference with the Senate on (the bill...or a similar Senate bill).”
Dividing the Question: An amendment can be divided if it consists of two or more parts, each of
which could be considered independently. The motion to strike and insert is not divisible. A
division may be demanded on amendments offered en bloc, even after unanimous consent has
been granted to consider them en bloc. Each division of an amendment is debatable and
amendable as if it were a separate amendment. If a member demands that an amendment be
divided, the demand must occur before the vote begins on the amendment. The demander should
indicate which portion of the question he or she wants voted on separately, and may request a
further division if such a demand would be proper.
End (Close) Debate, Motion To: Members have the right to offer as many amendments as they
want, if not dilatory. Debate on an amendment or a section of the bill can be ended by moving to
close debate or by unanimous consent. (The amendment under consideration must still be voted
on, however.) Ending debate on a section does not preclude further amendments, but they are
decided without debate.
After initial debate on an amendment, a member may say, “Mr. Chairman, I move to close
debate on the amendment (or section) and all amendments thereto immediately (or in
...minutes, or at....o’clock).”
The chair puts the question: “The question is on the motion to close debate. As many as are in
If the motion is successful, then the chair has the discretion to allocate the remaining time. He
may allocate it to members who had already asked to be recognized, divide control between a
proponent and opponent, or recognize members under the five-minute rule until all time is
Minority Filing Views: A member may have two additional calendar days from the day a bill has
been ordered reported (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays) in which to submit
additional, dissenting, or minority views. The clock for filing begins the day the measure is
ordered reported and continues until one hour after midnight on the second day. The member
must give notice of his or her intention to submit such views at the time the measure is ordered
reported. (Some committees authorize the ranking member to make such a request on behalf of all
Parliamentary Inquiry: Recognition for a parliamentary inquiry is at the discretion of the chair.
The chair does not respond to inquiries about content, meaning, or the substantive effect of an
amendment. The chair does not respond to hypothetical questions. Responses to parliamentary
inquiries are not rulings and thus are not subject to appeal. Members must have the floor to pose a
parliamentary inquiry. If another member controls the time, that member would have to yield to
the member seeking to pose the inquiry. The time it takes to discuss the inquiry is deducted from
the total amount controlled by the member. However, there are no time limitations regarding
parliamentary inquiries. Such time is at the discretion of the chair.
Points of Order: Members have the right to make, or reserve, a point of order, provided that it is
made in a timely manner. Points of order on an amendment must be made after it has been read
but before debate on the amendment begins. Reserving a point of order occurs at the same point,
but points of order can be reserved only at the discretion of the chair. Once a point of order has
been made, debate on it is at the discretion of the chair. Debate should be limited to the
procedural issue, not the merits of the policy. Members do not control time and therefore cannot
yield or reserve time. If a point of order has been reserved, any member can demand “regular
order,” meaning the member must immediately either make the point of order or withdraw the
Postpone, Motion to: A motion to postpone may be made to put off consideration indefinitely or
to a day certain. A motion to postpone indefinitely has the same effect as the motion to table, or
kill. A motion to postpone to a day certain cannot set the hour at which consideration is to be
resumed. The motion to postpone cannot apply to a motion to amend or a motion for the previous
question. The motion to postpone is open to amendment. For example, a motion to postpone to a
day certain may be amended to make it a motion to postpone indefinitely. The motion to postpone
to a day certain has precedence over a motion to refer, amend, or postpone indefinitely, but not
over a motion to adjourn, to table, or to move the previous question. If the previous question is
agreed to, a motion to postpone the same question may not be made. If a motion to table a motion
to postpone is agreed to, that motion tables only the motion to postpone and not the matter that
was the subject of the motion to postpone.
Postpone Recorded Votes: Committees may adopt a committee rule granting the chair authority
to postpone recorded votes on agreeing to amendments, business matters, and the approval of
measures. The rule cannot authorize chairs to postpone any other type of vote, including
Pursuant to [refer to committee rule number] further proceedings on the amendment will be
Previous Question: Amendments to a section can be closed by moving the previous question.
This motion serves to close debate on a section and to preclude further amendments. The motion
is not debatable and may not be tabled. (However, 40 minutes of debate must be provided when
the previous question is ordered without debate on a proposition otherwise subject to debate. The
40 minutes would be equally divided.) The underlying amendment must still be voted on if the
previous question motion is agreed to. The previous question on the bill can only be moved when
the entire bill has been read for amendment, or if the bill is “open to amendment at any point.”
One advantage of considering an amendment in the nature of a substitute is that the previous
question can be moved at any time (i.e., as a device to cut off amendments).
After initial debate on an amendment, a Member may say, “Mr. Chairman, I move the
previous question on the amendment and all amendments thereto.”
The chair puts the question, “The motion is in order and is not debatable. As many as are in
If the motion is successful, then the chair puts the question on the pending amendment [s].
“The previous question having been ordered, the question is on the amendment offered by....
As many as are in favor...”
Question of Consideration: The question of consideration, which literally means, Does the
committee/subcommittee want to consider this bill?, may be raised before debate has begun. The
motion is not debatable and may not be tabled. If made in a timely manner, the chair puts the
question without debate, “Does the committee wish to consider...” A majority vote is needed. If
the question is defeated, it does not prevent the measure from being brought up again. If the
question is agreed to, the vote is subject to reconsideration.
Quorum: A quorum is required at all times during a markup. Any member may make a point of
order that a quorum is not present. The chair will then count. If a quorum is not present, the chair
will direct the clerk to call the roll. When a quorum is present, the chair announces that the
committee will resume its business. The chair’s count of a quorum is conclusive and not subject
Reading of the Bill: A member can request the reading of an entire bill or an amendment. The
first reading of a bill may be dispensed with by unanimous consent or by motion, the latter only if
printed copies are available. The motion is not debatable and may not be tabled. The reading of an
amendment can be dispensed with only by unanimous consent.
Reconsider, Motion to: Any member who voted on the prevailing side of a record vote may
move to reconsider the vote. The request to reconsider does not have to be made immediately
after the result of the vote is announced. It can be made at the same meeting of the committee at
which the vote was taken to which the motion applies, or at a subsequent meeting on the same or
next day thereafter on which the committee convenes with a quorum present. A motion to
reconsider is debatable if the question to which it relates was debatable at the time the committee
voted on it. If a motion to reconsider is adopted, the vote is taken again without debate. The
motion to reconsider is subject to a motion to table (kill).
Regular Order: Any member has the right to “demand the regular order,” thereby demanding the
execution of a rule or order of the House. The chair is required to return to the pending business
when regular order is demanded.
Report, Motion to: It is the duty of the committee chair “promptly” to report to the House
measures approved by the committee. If the report is not filed by the chairman, a majority of the
committee members may file a written request for the filing of the report. Within seven calendar
days (exclusive of the days the House is not in session), after the filing of the request, the report
itself is to be filed. Pursuant to precedent, the motion to report must be authorized by the
committee acting together at a formal meeting of the committee with a majority of the committee
Committees can order a bill reported adversely, with no recommendations for action, with various
amendments, or with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. Alternatively, the committee can
order a clean bill to be reported.
“Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee favorably report the bill, H.R. [as amended].
Further, I move to instruct the staff to prepare the legislative report, to make technical and
conforming changes, and that the chair take all necessary steps to bring the bill before the
House.” (Some committees do the second part by unanimous consent. Some committees also
break the second part into its components.)
“Mr. Chairman, I move that a clean bill be prepared by the chair for introduction in the House
and further consideration by the committee.” If the motion is adopted, the committee must
reconvene to order the clean bill reported, unless the clean bill can be introduced and referred
before the committee meeting ends.
Withdrawing an Amendment: An amendment may be withdrawn without unanimous consent if
no action has been taken on it, such as offering an amendment to it. (Unanimous consent is
required to withdraw an amendment on the floor.)
Words Taken Down: Unparliamentary language is not in order. Language that impugns the
motives of a particular member is liable to be ruled out of order. If unparliamentary language is
used (or that claim is raised by a member), the chair could urge the member speaking the words
to seek unanimous consent to withdraw his words. No further debate or explanation should be
allowed. If the words are not withdrawn, a member may demand that the words be taken down.
This demand must be made before any other debate has intervened, or it comes too late. The
member who makes the demand must indicate the exact words to be taken down. The chair must
then state whether the words spoken were unparliamentary. “The chair is ready to rule. The chair
finds that the words are out of order/in order.” The chair may also state the rationale for the
ruling. If the words are out of order, they are stricken; alternately, the member may ask
unanimous consent to withdraw the offending words. By precedent, a member who is charged
with using unparliamentary language loses his or her right to continue speaking; however, by
unanimous consent or motion, the member may be allowed to proceed in order. The member can
still vote even if he or she loses the right to speak.
Writing, Motions Must Be In: Any member may demand that any motion be reduced to writing.
By extension, any amendment must be reduced to writing if a member makes that demand.
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