Simplified Rules of Order

Subsidiary Motions

Table (Lay on the Table)

Sometimes a meeting wants to lay a main motion aside temporarily without setting a time for resuming its consideration but with the provision that the motion can be taken up again whenever the majority so decides. This is accomplished by a motion to table or to lay on the table.

The motion has the effect of delaying action on a main motion. If a subsequent meeting does not lift the question from the table, the effect of the motion to table is to prevent action from being taken on the main motion. Indeed, rather than either pass or defeat a motion, a meeting will sometimes choose to "bury" it by tabling.

Robert's rules say, "No motion or motions can be laid on the table apart from motions which adhere to them, or to which they adhere; and if any one of them is laid on the table, all such motions go to the table together." For example, a main motion may have been made and an amendment proposed to it. The proposed amendment "adheres" to the main motion. If the meeting wants to table either of the motions, it must table both of them. In this example, if the meeting did not like the proposed amendment, but wanted to deal with the main motion, the correct procedure would be not to table, but to defeat the amendment. Debate could then resume on the main motion.

A motion to table may not interrupt another speaker, must be seconded, is not debatable, is not amendable, may not be reconsidered, and requires a majority vote.

Contents | How Motions are Classified | Subsidiary Motions

Last changed: 10/08/2002
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