Table a Bill / Motion to Table
Diagramming how a bill becomes a law in the U.S.
Table a Bill: Motions to table, or to “lay on the table,” are used to block or kill amendments or other parliamentary questions. When approved, a tabling motion is considered the final disposition of that issue. One of the most widely used parliamentary procedures, the motion to table is not debatable, and adoption requires a simple majority vote.
In the Senate, however, different language is sometimes used. The motion may be worded to let a bill “lie on the table,” perhaps for subsequent “picking up.” This motion is more flexible, keeping the bill pending for later action, if desired. Tabling motions on amendments are effective debate-ending devices in the Senate.
Senator Lee on the motion to table the Due Process Guarantee Act amendment
Motion to Table: A senator may move to table any pending question. The motion is not debatable, and agreement to the motion is equivalent to defeating the question tabled. The motion is used to dispose quickly of questions the Senate does not wish to consider further.
- Senate Rule XXII (22). Precedence of Motions
- “Invoking Cloture in the Senate,” CRS Report 98-425 (6-page PDF)
- “Cloture,” CRS Report 98-780 (7-page PDF)
- “House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies,” CRS Report R41083 (220-page PDF)
- “Resolving Legislative Differences in the Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses,” CRS Report 98-696 (40-page PDF)
- “House Resolutions of Inquiry,” CRS Report RL31909 (29-page PDF)
- “Defense Procurement: Full Funding Policy — Background, Issues, and Options for Congress,” CRS Report RL31404 (78-page PDF)
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
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Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide
Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates
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