How to Withdraw a Motion

This is a quick guide on how to request to withdraw a motion.

The Skinny

  • What motion should you use if you do not want the group to move forward with a motion that you have made?
    Use the motion called Request for Permission to Withdraw a Motion.
  • What should you say?
    Say this: “I request permission to withdraw the motion.”
  • When can you make this motion?
    You can make this request when the request is connected to a motion that is on the floor and when none of the following motions are pending: 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?
    Yes, if the request requires immediate attention.
  • Does someone have to say, “Second” after this motion is proposed?
  • Can people debate the pros and cons of this motion?
  • How many votes does this motion need to pass?
    Majority. More than half of the members present and voting must agree to allow a member to withdraw his own motion. (The chair may attempt to take the vote by unanimous consent to quickly discern whether there is a majority in favor of the withdrawal of the motion.)

An Example

  • Member A makes the following main motion: “I move that we sponsor a golf tournament and give the funds to the Red Cross and a local homeless shelter.”
  • Member B says, “Second.”
  • The Chair repeats the motion and asks for discussion.
  • During the discussion, the members learn that golf tournaments have historically been unsuccessful fundraisers for the group, as have most events. The group has done better with one-on-one fundraising meetings.
  • Member A decides that the group shouldn’t waste its time discussing her motion any further or voting on her motion.
  • Member A seeks recognition and says, “Mr. Chair, I request permission to withdraw my motion.”
  • The Chair asks if anyone objects to the withdrawal of the motion.
  • If no one objects, the motion is withdrawn, and the group proceeds to the next item of business on the agenda.
  • If someone objects, the Chair says, “There has been an objection. Is there a motion that Member A be granted permission to withdraw her motion?”
  • Member B makes the motion that Member A be granted permission to withdraw her motion, and Member A seconds it.
  • The Chair takes a vote on the Request for Permission to Withdraw a Motion. If a majority of those present and voting are in favor of withdrawing the motion, then it is withdrawn. If a majority are not in favor, then the group continues discussing the motion.

What the Pros Know

  • The above example includes the Chair’s use of unanimous consent which makes the vote on withdrawal of this motion much more efficient.
  • Before a motion has been restated or repeated by the Chair, the maker of the motion can withdraw it without permission of the group because the motion still belongs to the member who made it. But after a motion has been restated or repeated by the Chair, the motion belongs to the group, and the group must give permission for the member to withdraw it.
  • A member can make this Request for Permission to Withdraw a Motion even if the motion has already been amended by the group or if other motions—i.e., the motion to Refer to Committee or the motion to Postpone to a Specific Time—are pending.
  • A motion that has been withdrawn is viewed as having never been made, and so it is permissible to make it again later in the same meeting.

Where to Learn More