This is a quick guide on how to use the motion to Limit or Extend Limits on Debate.
- What motion should you use to control the amount of time that a group spends discussing a motion?
Use the motion to Limit or Extend Limits on Debate.
- What should you say?
- If you want to limit debate on the motion that is currently on the floor, say this: “I move to limit debate to [specify how you want the debate to be limited].”
- If there is more than one motion on the floor, and you want to limit debate on several of them, say this: “I move to limit debate on [list the motions that you want to apply this motion to] and limit debate to [specify how you want the debate to be limited].”
- When can you make this motion?
You can make this motion anytime that the following other motions are not on the floor: Previous Question, Lay on the Table, Call for the Orders of the Day, Raise a Question of Privilege, Recess, Adjourn, or Fix the Time to Which to Adjourn.
- Can you interrupt another speaker to make this motion?
- Does someone have to say, “Second” after this motion is proposed?
- Can people debate the pros and cons of this motion?
- Can this motion be amended?
Yes. You can amend it as to the specific limits that are imposed.
- How many votes does this motion need to pass?
Two-thirds. At least two-thirds of the votes cast must be in favor of limiting or extending debate.
- A main motion is on the floor, and the group has been discussing it for a period of time.
- A member of the group is ready to move the discussion along but doesn’t think that closing debate is a good idea.
- The member seeks recognition by the Chair, and once recognized, says, “I move to limit debate to two more speeches in favor of the immediately pending motion and two more speeches in opposition to the immediately pending motion.” (Another option: the member could say, “I move to limit debate on this motion to 10 more minutes.”)
- Another member says, “Second.”
- The Chair takes a vote on whether to limit debate on the main motion. The Chair does not ask if there is discussion on the motion to limit debate.
- If at least two-thirds vote in the affirmative, then discussion is limited as described in the motion. If less than two-thirds vote in the affirmative, discussion continues without limits until the group is ready to vote.
A Second Example
- The following motions are on the floor:
- Main Motion
- Refer to Committee
- Postpone to a Time Certain
- The group has been discussing whether to postpone the main motion to a specific time in the future, and prior to that discussion, the group had discussed whether to refer it to a committee or whether to amend it.
- A member of the group is ready to limit debate on everything that is pending, except for the main motion. She doesn’t want to amend the motion, and she does want to go ahead and vote on referring the motion to committee or postponing the issue to another time.
- The member seeks recognition by the Chair, and once recognized, says, “I move to limit debate on all pending motions except for the main motion to 10 minutes total.”
- Another member says, “Second.”
- The Chair takes one vote on whether to limit debate to 10 minutes on all the pending motions except the main motion.
- The Chair does not ask if there is discussion on the motion to limit debate.
- If at least two-thirds vote in the affirmative, discussion is limited to 10 minutes on the motion to postpone to a time certain, the motion to refer, and the motion to amend. If less than two-thirds vote in the affirmative, discussion continues without limits on the motion to postpone to a time certain until the group is ready to vote.
What the Pros Know
- This motion can be applied to an individual motion or to a series of motions.
- A member can move to limit debate by limiting the number of speeches, by limiting the length of each speech, by setting a total length of time that debate will last, or by setting a specific time in the future that debate will end. A member can also combine several of these types of limits into one motion.
- A member can also move to extend debate to allow more speeches than the group’s adopted rules for debate allow.
- If a limit on debate is applied to a motion or series of motions, that same limit applies to any other debatable motions that are proposed while the limit is in force.
- If a limit on debate specifies a time that debate will end, the members cannot then move to refer the main motion to a committee or to postpone it to a specific time because by agreeing to end debate at a specific time, the members have already chosen to take a vote on that main motion in this meeting. This rule doesn’t apply if the motion to refer or to postpone was already pending at the time the motion to limit debate was made.
- If debate on a main motion is limited and consideration of the main motion is then postponed to a later time in the same meeting, the debate limits still apply when the motion that was postponed is taken up again.
Where to Learn More