How to Take a Motion Back from a Committee

This is a quick guide on the motion to Discharge a Committee.

The Skinny

  • What motion should you use to shift a motion or topic that has been referred to a committee back to the entire membership for consideration?
    Use the motion called Discharge a Committee.
  • What should you say?
    • Say this: “I move that the [name of the standing committee] be discharged from further consideration of the resolution related to [topic referred to the committee].”
    • Or, say this: “I move that the special committee created to [purpose of the special committee] be discharged.”
  • When can you make this motion?
    Only when no other motion is on the floor. 
  • Can you interrupt another speaker to make this motion?
    No. You must be recognized first by the Chair. 
  • Does someone have to say, “Second” after this motion is proposed?
    Yes.
  • Can people debate the pros and cons of this motion?
    Yes, and while this motion is on the floor, the topic that had been referred to the committee can also be debated.
  • Can this motion be amended?
    Yes.

    • You can amend the motion so that it instructs the committee to make its report instead of discharging the committee from further consideration of a resolution.
    • You can also amend the motion to add a time that the entire assembly will consider the topic once it is out of the committee’s hands. For example, “I move that the Property Committee be discharged from further consideration of the resolution related to the sale of headquarters, and that this body consider the resolution at 3:00 p.m.”
  • How many votes does this motion need to pass?
    Either (1) a majority of those present and voting (if notice that the motion will be made is given in advance), or (2) at least two-thirds of those present and voting (if notice that the motion will be made was not given in advance). Note: This motion to Discharge a Committee can also pass, regardless of whether notice was given ahead of time, if a majority of the entire membership of the group votes in the affirmative.

An Example

  • A main motion related to the sale of an organization’s headquarters is referred to the Property Committee.
  • Circumstances change such that the assembly needs to consider it prior to the time when the committee will be ready to report.
  • Member A seeks recognition by the Chair, and once recognized, says, “I move to discharge the Property Committee from further consideration of the resolution related to the sale of headquarters.”
  • Member B says, “Second.”
  • The Chair asks for debate on the motion.
  • The Chair takes a vote on the motion to Discharge the Committee.
  • If a majority of the members present and voting vote in the affirmative, then the motion to Discharge the Committee is adopted and the motion regarding the sale of headquarters is immediately back in the hands of the assembly for consideration and a vote. If a majority of the members present and voting do not vote in the affirmative, then the motion regarding the sale of headquarters stays in the hands of the committee.

What the Pros Know

  • This motion is necessary because once a topic has been referred to a committee, the assembly at large cannot consider the same topic.
  • This motion can be adopted with a majority vote in two additional circumstances (even when no advance notice of the motion has been given):
    • It can be adopted by a majority vote if the committee has failed to report in the time frame specified by the assembly.
    • It can be adopted by a majority vote while the assembly is considering a partial report on the topic from the committee.
  • This motion does not need to be made ceremonially when a committee presents its final report on a topic that has been referred to it. At that point, the committee is automatically discharged from further consideration of the topic, so making this motion is unnecessary.
  • The motion can also be used by a committee to discharge a subcommittee from consideration of a topic that the committee has referred to the subcommittee.

Where to Learn More