From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms
Reconsider a Vote
Reconsider: Parliamentary practice that gives a chamber one opportunity to review its action on a motion, amendment, measure, or any other proposition.
A motion to reconsider the vote by which an action was taken has, until it is disposed of, the effect of putting the action in abeyance. In the Senate, the motion can be made only by a member who voted on the prevailing side of the original question or by a member who did not vote at all. In the House, it can be made only by a member on the prevailing side and cannot be made in the Committee of the Whole.
A common practice in the Senate after close votes on an issue is a motion to reconsider, followed by a motion to table the motion to reconsider. On this motion to table, senators vote as they voted on the original question, which allows the motion to table to prevail, assuming there are no switches. The matter then is finally closed and further motions to reconsider are not entertained. In the House, as a routine precaution, a motion to reconsider usually is made every time a measure is passed. Such a motion almost always is tabled immediately, thus shutting off the possibility of future reconsideration, except by unanimous consent.
Motions to reconsider must be entered in the Senate within the next two days of actual session after the original vote has been taken. In the House they must be entered either on the same day or on the next succeeding day the House is in session.
Also see § 6.140, House Floor: Motion to Recommit and Final Passage, § 6.240, Senate Floor: Motion to Reconsider and Final Passage, in Congressional Deskbook.
- Senate Rule XIII – Reconsideration
- House Rule XIX – Motions Following The Amendment Stage
- “Commonly Used Motions and Requests in the House of Representatives,” CRS Report RL32207 (20-page PDF)
- “Balanced Budget Amendments,” CRS Insight IN10884 (4-page PDF)
- “House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies,” CRS Report R41083 (220-page PDF)
- “The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform,” CRS Report R45111 (10-page PDF)
- “Budget Enforcement Procedures: The Senate Pay-As-You-Go (PayGO) Rule,” CRS Report RL31943 (28-page PDF)
- “The Senate’s ‘Executive Calendar’,” CRS Report 98-438 (6-page PDF)
- “The Budget Control Act of 2011,” CRS Report R41965 (52-page PDF)
- “Senate Proceedings Establishing Majority Cloture for Supreme Court Nominations: In Brief,” CRS Report R44819 (8-page PDF)
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