Reconsideration of a motion

Reconsideration of a motion

In parliamentary law, reconsideration of a motion (or reconsideration of a question) takes places upon a motion to bring back for further consideration a matter previously decided. The motion originated in the United States.[1]


Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised

Reconsider (RONR)
Class Motion that brings a question again before the assembly
In order when another has the floor? When another has been assigned the floor, but not after he has begun to speak
Requires second? Yes
Debatable? If motion to be reconsidered is debatable, in which case debate can go into that question
May be reconsidered? No
Amendable? No
Vote required: Majority

Under Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), the motion to reconsider must be made within a limited time after the action on the original motion: usually at the same meeting or, in the case of a multi-day session or convention, on the next day within the session or convention in which business is conducted.[2] Until the motion to reconsider is disposed of or lapses, the effect of the original vote is suspended, and no action may be taken to implement it.[3] This is in contrast to the motion to rescind, which may be made at any later meeting, but until passed, has no effect on the original decision.

Under Robert's Rules of Order and some other authorities, the motion to reconsider may be made only by a member who voted on the prevailing side in the original vote.[4] If another member disputes an assertion by the maker of the motion to reconsider that he voted on the prevailing side, the member moving to reconsider is to be believed unless the record of a roll call vote says otherwise.[5] The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, however, permits the motion to be made by any member and explains that this removes the incentive for a member to "switch sides" just in order to be eligible to move for reconsideration, and also preserves the secrecy of a ballot vote.[6]

Under Robert's Rules, the motion to reconsider is debatable to the extent that the motion being reconsidered is debatable.[7] Under the Standard Code, the motion is debatable only as to the reasons for reconsideration, and the original motion is opened for debate only if the motion for reconsideration passes.[8]

The making of the motion to reconsider takes precedence over all other motions and yields to nothing. It is not, however, considered at the time it is made if other business is pending, and the timing of its consideration depends on the ranking of the motion that led to the vote to be reconsidered.[9]

A special form of reconsider is the motion to reconsider and enter on the minutes, whose intended use is to prevent a temporary minority from taking action that would be opposed by the majority.[10] This motion cannot be called up on the day that it is made. Demeter's Manual, but not The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, also supports the use of this form of the motion.

Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (TSC), the second-leading parliamentary authority in the United States after Robert's Rules of Order, treats this motion differently in a number of ways. In addition to the differences noted earlier:

  • Only votes on main motions may be reconsidered; under Robert's, votes on a variety of secondary (subsidiary, incidental and privileged) motions may be reconsidered. Under TSC, the chair has discretion (subject to appeal and reversal by the assembly) to permit renewal of secondary motions, which replaces the function of the motion for reconsideration regarding these motions.[11]
  • If made while other business is pending, the motion to reconsider is taken up as soon as the other business is disposed of; under Robert's, if the motion to reconsider is made at a time when it cannot be considered immediately, the motion must be "called up" by a member, and if not called up before the close of the next meeting (if held within a quarterly time interval), the motion for reconsideration lapses.[12]
  • The special form under Robert's, Reconsider and Enter on the Minutes, is omitted and expressly disapproved under TSC.[13] Instead, a successful main motion may be subject to a motion to rescind at a later meeting, and an unsuccessful main motion may be renewed.

Other authorities

Under RONR, Demeter, and Riddick, the making of the motion to reconsider suspends all action that depends on the result of the vote proposed to be reconsidered. If reconsideration is moved at a time that the initial motion would be in order, then the motion is taken up immediately. Otherwise, it can be called up later by a member announcing, "I call up the motion to reconsider the vote on the motion..." The making of the motion to reconsider and the taking up of the motion need not take place at the same meeting.[14]

Legislative use

In American legislative bodies, there is a strong tradition of affirming the right to reconsider with almost no restrictions. Mason's Legislative Manual notes:[15]

With certain exceptions, every legislative body has the inherent right to reconsider a vote on any action previously taken by it. When not otherwise provided by law, all public bodies have a right during the session to reconsider action taken by them as they think proper, and it is the final result only that it is to be regarded as the thing done. Unless some right of a third person intervenes, all deliberative bodies have the right to reconsider their proceedings during a session as often as they think proper...Under general parliamentary law, most motions, whether carried or lost, can be reconsidered.

However, reconsideration is typically not allowed if another motion (e.g. to take from the table) would accomplish the result more directly (e.g. than reconsidering the motion to lay on the table). It is also not possible to reconsider if, for instance, vested rights have been acquired as a result of the action, or the subject is otherwise beyond the control or out of reach of the body taking the original action.[16] Mason's Manual states further:[17]

The courts do not support the statement that, as a rule of parliamentary law, the motion to reconsider may be made only on the day the vote was taken or on the day following. If it is desired to restrict the time within which the motion may be made, it should be done by rule. In practice, the right is closely restricted in time because the motion cannot be made after the subject of the vote is out of the possession of the body.

California Senate Rule No. 43 and New York Senate Rule No. 30 provide that any member can make the motion to reconsider, not just someone who voted on the prevailing side.

Mason's Manual permits a member to give notice of the motion to reconsider.[18]

In the U.S. House of Representatives, following a vote, the Speaker typically announces that, "without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid on the table."[19] Although no motion to reconsider (or to table) have actually been made, the making of this statement (unless there is objection) precludes the making of a future motion for reconsideration and makes the vote final.


  1. ^ Robert, Henry M. (2000). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed., p. 304
  2. ^ RONR, p. 305
  3. ^ RONR, p. 310
  4. ^ RONR, p. 304–305
  5. ^ Demeter, George (1969). Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, Blue Book, p. 229
  6. ^ Sturgis, Alice (2001). The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th ed., p. 40–41,236
  7. ^ RONR, p. 309
  8. ^ TSC, p. 42,236
  9. ^ RONR, p. 306–307
  10. ^ RONR, p. 323
  11. ^ TSC, p. 39, 236
  12. ^ TSC, p. 39–40
  13. ^ TSC, p. 237
  14. ^ RONR, p. 310–311
  15. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures (2000). Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, p. 299–300
  16. ^ Mason, p. 301
  17. ^ Mason, p. 310
  18. ^ Mason, p. 465
  19. ^ Motion to Reconsider

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