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The aim of this book is to present, in compact and convenient form, the precedents and the rulings on questions of order in the parliamentary practice of the Senate of the United States. As is true of all great legislative bodies, the practice in the Senate has not been uniform, and frequently the decisions are at variance. In many of these cases the differing decisions are so evenly balanced as to number, the respective reasons given therefor seemingly so cogent, and the presiding officers who made these decisions were of such recognized ability and authority, that it is not easy to determine where the preponderance rests. The endeavor has been to set out these varying and conflicting rulings and opinions with equal fairness.
In order that the volume might be the more serviceable, condensation has seemed necessary. To this end all of the rulings of like character are not included, but only a sufficient number to indicate or verify the practice; and, for a like reason, the citations in some instances may be found so abridged as to seem inadequate. Much care has been taken, however, that, while thus using only the pith and marrow, there should be accurately given such references to the journals and reports of proceedings that the fuller statement may be readily obtained, and that, while keeping availability in view, lucidity and exactness should not be sacrificed. In the more important cases it will be found there has been incorporated a sufficient amount of the literal text of the journals, reports, and records of debates to clearly indicate the occasion, and to outline the proceedings leading up to the particular ruling of the chair, or the decision of the Senate.
Thus all rulings of importance by the presiding officers of the Senate that have been affirmed, or reversed by the Senate on appeal, making them thereby the precedents of the Senate itself, and all decisions of the Senate directly made upon questions of order submitted to it, are incorporated. Many direct rulings of presiding officers that were not objected to or questioned at the time, and which, from this fact, may be said to have the acquiescence of the Senate, are also included.
Where a better understanding of these rulings and decisions can be had from the reported debates, extracts from the speeches of Senators are quoted, and especially where there have been differences of
opinion. Many references are made to reported proceedings of the House of Representatives, and extracts included from the remarks of members of that body showing agreements and disagreements in the parliamentary practice of the two Houses of Congress.
The period covered by the research is from the beginning of the First Congress, March 4, 1789, to the end of the Sixty-third Congress, March 3, 1913. Special care has been taken that the index should be full and complete, and thus prove a ready and accurate guide to the contents. In the preparation of the work all available printed authorities have been consulted, and special acknowledgments are given in this connection to the masterful work of Mr. Asher C. Hinds, "Precedents of the House of Representatives," and the compilation of Mr. Charles W. Johnson, former Chief Clerk of the United States Senate, published in 1899. Acknowledgments are also made to the several affable and cultured gentlemen of the Secretary's office of the Senate, who have freely given suggestions and observations of value.
The necessity for a work of this character has long been recognized, and the sincerest hope is that the volume here presented may, in some appreciable way, meet the requirement.
HENRY H. GILFRY. NOVEMBER, 1913.
1. Urgent letters requesting attendance of. 2. The earlier rules regarding. 3. The varying practice concerning. 4. Motion to direct attendance of, may be laid on the table. 5. Formerly, in absence of quorum, could not compel attendance of. 6. Motion to direct Sergeant at Arms to compel attendance of, not debat
able. 7. Motion to request must precede motion to compel attendance of. 8. On compelling attendance of, when quorum is present. 9. Quorum necessary to reconsider vote directing Sergeant at Arms to com
pel attendance of. 10. Pending execution of order no debate in order. 11. Publishing the names of.
In conformity with a resolution adopted by the Continental Congress on September 12, 1788, the first session of the First Congress was begun and held in the city of New York on Wednesday, March 4, 1789. There were but eight Senators present and, the number not being sufficient to constitute a quorum, they adjourned from day to day until March 11, when they addressed a letter to their absent colleagues, urging them to attend as soon as possible. Another request was sent on the 18th, and it was not until April 6 that a quorum was obtained.
Rule XIX, one of the rules first adopted, forbids any Senator to absent himself without leave. June 25, 1798, the rule was amended by authorizing the minority, in the absence of a quorum, to send the Sergeant at Arms or any other person authorized for the purpose for absent Members. May 15, 1798, the Secretary was directed to request the attendance of the Members absent without leave and those whose leave had expired. Absent Senators were commanded to attend May 21, 1826, and May 29, 1830. April 12, 1830, it was proposed to deduct from a Senator's compensation the per diem allowance for the number of days he should have been absent without leave, but the motion was withdrawn.
On February 27, 1841 (26th Cong., 2d sess.; J., p. 214), Mr. King, by unanimous consent, had leave to bring in the following resolution; which was read three times, by unanimous consent, and agreed to:
“Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate be instructed to allow the pay of all such Members of the Senate as may have been unavoidably detained on their way to the seat of government at the commencement of this session by the storm which occurred about that time, they having left their respective places of abode a sufficient time to have reached the Capitol in time to have taken their seats on the first day of the session."