« PreviousContinue »
DIVISION OF THE QUESTION.
If a question contain more parts than one, it may be divided into two or more questions.Mem. in Hakew. 29. But not as the right of an individual member, but with the consent of the House. For who is to decide whether a question is complicated or not? where it is complicated? into how many propositions it may be divided? The fact is, that the only mode of separating a complicated question is by moving amendments to it; and these must be decided by the House on a question, unless the House orders it to be divided: as on the question, Dec. 2, 1640, making void the election of the Knights for Worcester, on a motion it was resolved to make two questions of it, to wit, one on each Knight.-2 Hats. 85, 86. So, wherever there are several names in a question, they may be divided and put one by one.-9 Grey, 444. So, 1729, April 17, on an objection that a question was complicated, it was separated by amendment.-2 Hats. 79. 5.
The soundness of these observations will be evident from the embarrassments produced by the 12th rule of the Senate, which says, "If the question in debate contain several points, any member may have the same divided:" but on a motion to strike out and insert, it shall not be in order to move for a division of the question; but the rejection of a motion to strike out and insert one
proposition shall not prevent a motion to strike out and insert a different proposition, nor prevent a subsequent motion, simply to strike out: nor shall the rejection of a motion, simply to strike out, prevent a subsequent motion to strike out and insert.
1798, May 30, the alien bill in quasi-committee. To a section and proviso in the original, had been added two new provisos by way of amendment. On a motion to strike out the section as amended, the question was desired to be divided. To do this, it must be put first on striking out either the former proviso, or some distinct member of the section. But when nothing remains but the last member of the section, and the provisos, they cannot be divided so as to put the last member to question by itself; for the provisos might thus be left standing alone as exceptions to a rule when the rule is taken away or the new provisos might be left to a second question, after having been decided on once before at the same reading; which is contrary to rule. But the question must be on striking out the last member of the section as amended. This sweeps away the exceptions with the rule, and relieves from inconsistence. A question to be divisible, must comprehend points so distinct and entire, that one of them being taken away, the other may stand entire. But a proviso or exception, with an enacting clause, does not contain an entire point or proposition.
May 31. The same bill being before the Senate. There was a proviso, that the bill should not extend, 1. To any foreign minister; nor, 2.
To any person to whom the President should give a passport; nor, 3. To any alien merchant, conforming himself to such regulations as the President shall prescribe; and division of the question into its simplest elements was called for. It was divided into four parts, the 4th taking in the words, "conforming himself," &c. It was objected, that the words "any alien merchant" could not be separated from their modifying words, "conforming," &c. because these words, if left by themselves, contain no substantive idea, will make no sense. But admitting that the divisions of a paragraph into separate questions must be so made as that each part may stand by itself, yet the House having, on the question, retained the two first divisions, the words "any alien merchant" may be struck out, and their modifying words will then attach themselves to the proceeding description of persons, and become a modification of that description.
When a question is divided, after the question on the first member, the 2d is open to debate and amendment: because it is a known rule, that a person may rise and speak at any time before the question has been completely decided by putting the negative, as well as the affirmative side. But the question is not completely put when the vote has been taken on the first member only. One half of the question, both affirmative and negative, still remains to be put.-See Executive Journ. June 25, 1795. The same decision by President Adams.
It may be asked, whether the House can be in possession of two motions or propositions at the same time? So that, one of them being decided, the other goes to question without being moved anew? The answer must be special. When a question is interrupted by a vote of adjournment, it is thereby removed from before the House; and does not stand ipso facto before them at their next meeting, but must come forward in the usual way: so, when it is interrupted by the order of the day. Such other privileged questions also as dispose of the main question (e. g. the previous question, postponement, or commitment) remove it from before the House. But it is only suspended by a motion to amend, to withdraw, to read papers, or by a question of order or privilege, and stands again before the House when these are decided. None but the class of privileged questions can be brought forward while there is another question before the House; the rule being, that when a motion has been made and seconded, no other can be received except it be a privileged one.
If, on a question for rejection, a bill be retained, it passes of course to its next reading.— Hakew. 141.-Scob. 42, and a question for a second reading determined negatively, is a rejection without farther question.-4 Grey, 149. And see Elsynge's Memor. 42, in what cases questions are to be taken for rejection.
Where questions are perfectly equivalent, so that the negative of the one amounts to the affirmative of the other, and leaves no other alternative, the decision of the one concludes necessarily the other.-4 Grey, 157. Thus the negative of striking out amounts to the affirmative of agreeing; and therefore to put a question on agreeing after that on striking out, would be to put the same question in effect twice over. Not so in questions of amendments between the two Houses. A motion to recede being negatived, does not amount to a positive vote to insist, because there is another alternative, to wit, to adhere.
A bill originating in one House, is passed by the other with an amendment. A motion in the originating House, to agree to the amendment is negatived. Does these result from this vote of disagreement? or must the question on disagree