Appeal the Ruling of the Chair (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Appeal the Ruling of the Chair

Stone walls and chains do not make a prison --- for Houdini, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-3784
Stone walls and chains do not make a prison --- for Houdini, Library of Congress, LC-USZC2-3784

The right to appeal from a decision of the Chair on a question of order is derived from the English Parliament and is recognized under clause 5 of House Rule I, which dates from 1789. This right of appeal, which may be invoked by any House member, protects the House against arbitrary control by the Speaker.

Member: I (respectfully) appeal the ruling of the Chair.
Chair: The question is, shall the decision of the Chair stand as the judgment of the House [or the Committee]?

An appeal is debatable but is subject to the motions for the previous question and to table in the House. In the Committee of the Whole, an appeal is subject to the motion to limit debate and to rise and close debate in the House. The vote on an appeal may be taken by record vote. A majority vote sustains the ruling. The weight of precedent indicates that a tie vote (especially where the Chair has not voted to make the tie) sustains the ruling as well. The Chair may vote to make or break a tie and may cast a vote in favor of the decision.

An appeal from a ruling of the Chair goes only to the propriety of the ruling; the vote thereon should not be interpreted as a vote on the merits of the issue at hand.

Clause 5 of House Rule I provides the right of appeal from decisions of the Speaker on questions of order. An appeal may also be taken from the ruling of the chair of the Committee of the Whole on a question of order. For example, an appeal may be taken from a ruling of the Chair on the germaneness of an amendment or that an amendment proposes to change a portion of the bill already passed in the reading. The Speaker’s decision on a question of order is not subject to appeal if the decision is one that falls within the discretionary authority of the Chair.

In the Committee of the Whole, a member can move to close debate (end debate) on a pending amendment or to limit debate at a specified time. (After the last section of the bill has been read in the House sitting as the House, a member can move the previous question. This motion is not in order in the Committee of the Whole.) Unlike the previous question, closing or limiting debate does not preclude offering additional amendments. It means that all subsequent amendments are decided without debate.

Source: House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, Chapter 3. Appeals, § 1 In General; Forms.


Floor Debate on H.R. 3350, the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013”


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