Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Dennis Bringing The Issue To The Floor: Parliamentary Outline!

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dennis Bringing The Issue To The Floor: Parliamentary Outline!



The Congress of the United States maintains the most massive and cluttered assemblage of rules and Parliamentary Authorities known to man. That should come as no surprise. With no sarcasm injected; the array of procedural vehicles available to the congress has been put in place not as a matter of expediting the business of the congress or this nation, but as avenues of obstruction and deliberative delay.

I am not going to get into the reasons and historical development of this condition. It would take a decent length book to do that matter justice and would be of little interest to anyone but scholars and parliamentarians and practitioners such as myself.

Likewise; I am going to dispense with any discussions of the motions to table, refer or recommit, as those are rather straight forward and are not nuanced by any congressional modification of special rules “ of any significance as regards the matter under consideration.

Certainly there will be opposition to the Kucinich move; the only question that remains is just what procedural form it will take:

1) Speaker Pelosi could simply refuse to accept the motion and rule that it is not privileged, allow the house to, by vote, sustain her ruling and move on. That would be the most ruthless pathway and I do not see it as being unrealistic given her distain for the entire matter. However; it is not the wisest political parliamentary pathway, but then who attributes wisdom of decision making to the Speaker these days?

2) If the House is inclined to allow Mr. Kucinich, at least, a hearing the most likely course of events will be that he is given his say and then a motion to table, refer, or recommit would follow to silence him and dispose of the issue.

3) The most complicated and clean approach, and it has been discussed, would be to:

(a) Permit Dennis to offer his motion, and then, follow it quickly with an Objection to Consideration (The details of the motion are contained below).

(b)What this does, is to allow Dennis the courtesy of going on the record with his effort, and given, on the part of the chair (Pelosi), animosity to both the candidate and motion, and shields Nancy from the appearance of being a tyrant.

Let me explain. Dennis would get to make his initial motion, but never be allowed to speak to it. The Objection would interrupt Dennis and the chair (Pelosi) would be obliged to put the question of objection to the house. A 2/3 vote in the affirmative, a vote to sustain the objection, is necessary to end any further consideration of the motion for the time being.

Further, the person who enters the objection will simply interrupt Dennis and be immediately recognized. All business will stop! The individual does not have to have a second, and the motion is not subject to debate or discussion. If the motion to object is sustained the issue is dead for the time being and the chair will simply move to the next item of business on the agenda.

Should the Objection to Consideration fail to obtain 2/3 support the floor is returned to Dennis and debate ensues until some other member determined to obstruct/defeat the issue attacks it with a different motion of termination, i.e., table, refer, recommit, etc., all of which require a simple majority vote in anyones good book of rules.

4) NOW THE REST OF THE STORY: Taking the route of Objection To Consideration permits the opposition to determine the strength of their side on the issue without having to say one word on the record to be used against them in the future at home in the waning days of campaigning. The matter will be disposed of in speeches as a simple procedural matter where Dennis failed to have enough votes. But, the opposition, should it be determined, that their strength is not 2/3 but still reaches at least a 50% +1 majority can then be assured that and additional motions to kill already mentioned will be successful can be about its business and in turn offer the motion of their choice and end the matter for the time being.

5) This is Parliamentary Procedure being played like a political Chess Game. Regardless of the outcome there is no way to prevent Dennis from renewing his motion at a later date, except one that I will get to very soon. With the traditional motions the only question becomes, assuming the opposition is successful, is how lengthy the delay may become.

6) Is there any way to stop Dennis all together? Yes! If the opposition is prepared to walk the full plank they can author a special rule or resolution that prohibits HR Res: 333 from ever being brought before the body again!


Questions relating to the rights and privileges of the assembly, or to any of its members, take precedence of all other motions except the three preceding relating to adjournment and recess, to which they yield. If the question is one requiring immediate action it may interrupt a member's speech; as, for example, when, from any cause, a report that is being read cannot be heard in a part of the hall.

But if it is not of such urgency it should not interrupt a member after he has commenced his speech. Before a member has commenced speaking, even though he has been assigned the floor, it is in order for another member to raise a question of privilege. When a member rises for this purpose he should not wait to be recognized, but immediately on rising should say, "Mr. Chairman," -- and when he catches the chairman's eye, should add, "I rise to a question of privilege affecting the assembly," or "I rise to a question of personal privilege." The chair directs him to state his question, and then decides whether it is one of privilege or not.

From this decision any two members may appeal. The chair may decide it to be a question of privilege, but not of sufficient urgency to justify interrupting the speaker. In such a case the speaker should be allowed to continue, and, when he has finished, the chair should immediately assign the floor to the member who raised the question of privilege to make his motion if one is necessary.

Whenever his motion is made and stated, it becomes the immediately pending question and is open to debate and amendment and the application of all the other subsidiary motions just as any main motion. Its high privilege extends only to giving it the right to consideration in preference to any other question except one relating to adjournment or recess, and, in cases of great urgency, the right to interrupt a member while speaking. It cannot interrupt voting or verifying a vote. As soon as the question of privilege is disposed of, the business is resumed exactly where it was interrupted; if a member had the floor at the time the question of privilege was raised, the chair assigns him the floor again.

Questions of privilege may relate to the privileges of the assembly or only of a member, the former having the precedence if the two come into competition. Questions of personal privilege must relate to one as a member of the assembly, or else relate to charges against his character which, if true, would incapacitate him for membership.

Questions like the following relate to the privileges of the assembly: those relating to the organization of the assembly; or to the comfort of its members, as the heating, lighting, ventilation, etc., of the hall, and freedom from noise and other disturbance; or to the conduct of its officers or employees; or to the punishing of a member for disorderly conduct or other offence; or to the conduct of reporters for the press, or to the accuracy of published reports of proceedings.

Privileged questions include, besides questions of privilege, a call for the orders of the day and the privileged motions relating to adjournment and recess. This distinction between privileged questions and questions of privilege should be borne in mind.


An objection may be made to the consideration of any original main motion, and to no others, provided it is made before there is any debate or before any subsidiary motion is stated. Thus, it may be applied to petitions and to communications that are not from a superior body, as well as to resolutions. It cannot be applied to incidental main motions [11], such as amendments to by-laws, or to reports of committees on subjects referred to them, etc. It is similar to a question of order in that it can be made when another has the floor, and does not require a second; and as the chairman can call a member to order, so he can put this question, if he deems it advisable, upon his own responsibility.

It cannot be debated, or amended, or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it.

It yields to privileged motions and to the motion to lay on the table. ED NOTE SEE END

A negative, but not an affirmative vote on the consideration may be reconsidered.1

When an original main motion is made and any member wishes to prevent its consideration, he rises, although another has the floor, and says, "Mr. Chairman, I object to its consideration." The chairman immediately puts the question, "The consideration of the question has been objected to: Will the assembly consider it? [Or, Shall the question be considered?]" If decided in the negative by a two-thirds vote, the whole matter is dismissed for that session; otherwise, the discussion continues as if this objection had never been made. The same question may be introduced at any succeeding session.

The Object of this motion is not to cut off debate (for which other motions are provided) but to enable the assembly to avoid altogether any question which it may deem irrelevant, unprofitable, or contentious. If the chair considers the question entirely outside the objects of the society, he should rule it out of order, from which decision an appeal may be taken.

Objection to the consideration of a question must not be confounded with objecting where unanimous consent, or a majority vote, is required. Thus, in case of the minority of a committee desiring to submit their views, a single member saying, "I object," prevents it, unless the assembly by a majority vote grants them permission.

1. In Congress the introduction of a question may be prevented temporarily by a majority vote under H.R. Rule 16, §3, which is as follows: "3. When any motion or proposition is made, the question, Will the House now consider it? shall not he put unless demanded by a member." lf the House refuses to consider a bill the vote cannot be reconsidered. But this refusal does not prevent the question's being again introduced the same session. In assemblies having brief sessions lasting usually only a few hours, or at most not over a week, it is necessary that the assembly have the power by a two-thirds vote to decide that a question shall not be introduced during that session. As the refusal to consider the question prevents its renewal during the session, the vote may be reconsidered.

ED NOTE SEE END: I have never seen this done. It is the only combination I have never witnessed on been party to. To lay the Objection on the Table avoids the vote, provides additional time to muster the votes to defeat it and ascertain whether the advocates for Impeachment can build a majority in support of HR. Res: 333 on the floor of the House. The maneuver is highly unlikely.

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