Privilege / Privileged Questions / Question of Privilege (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Privilege / Privileged Questions / Question of Privilege

Spandex is a Privilege, Not a Right!, by Carly & Art

Spandex is a Privilege, Not a Right!, by Carly & Art

Privilege relates to the rights of members of Congress and to relative priority of the motions and actions they may make in their respective chambers. The two are distinct. “Privileged questions” deal with legislative business. “Questions of privilege” concern legislators themselves.

Privileged Questions: The order in which Congress considers bills, motions and other legislative measures is governed by strict priorities. A motion to table, for instance, is more privileged than a motion to recommit. Thus, a motion to recommit can be superseded by a motion to table, and a vote would be forced on the latter motion only. A motion to adjourn, however, takes precedence over a tabling motion and thus is considered the “highest privilege.”

Question of Privilege: These are matters affecting members of Congress individually or collectively. Matters affecting the rights, safety, dignity and integrity of proceedings of the House or Senate as a whole are questions of privilege in both chambers. Under House rules adopted in 1993, the Speaker may postpone consideration of certain questions of privilege for two days.

Questions involving individual members are called questions of “personal privilege.” A member rising to ask a question of personal privilege (make a “point of personal privilege“) is given precedence over almost all other proceedings. An annotation in the House rules points out that the privilege rests primarily on the Constitution (Article. I. Section. 6.), which gives him a conditional immunity from arrest and an unconditional freedom to speak in the House

Also see Appeal the Ruling of the Chair; Immunity; Point of Order; § 6.70 House Floor: Scheduling and Privilege, in Congressional Deskbook.

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