Robert's Rules and Motions Related to Methods of Voting and the Polls
Robert's Rules for Incidental Motions
Robert's Rules for Making a Parliamentary Inquiry

Robert's Rules for Discharging a Committee

The motion to Discharge a Committee is the way to bring the motion back to the assembly for further action. After your group refers a matter to a committee, the matter is no longer in the hands of the group, but rather is under the committee’s control. According to Robert’s Rules, it’s not in order for your group to act on business that’s currently in the hands of a committee.

But sometimes the group needs to take charge again. The motion to Discharge a Committee is used in two general situations:

  • When the committee to which a motion has been referred has failed to report as instructed or in a timely manner

  • When the matter referred to the committee needs immediate action by the entire group

In both situations, the motion to Discharge a Committee requires a two-thirds vote. (According to Robert’s Rules, this motion is generally considered to be a form of the motion to Rescind or to Amend Something Previously Adopted.)

When it’s possible to reconsider a vote referring a matter to a committee, it’s more efficient to use reconsideration and simply reverse the motion to Commit because reversal can be achieved by majority vote.

A motion to Discharge a Committee

  • Can’t interrupt a speaker who has the floor

  • Must be seconded

  • Is debatable

  • Can be amended

  • Requires a two-thirds vote without notice, a majority vote with notice, or a majority of the entire membership with no notice (Exception: A committee can be discharged by a majority vote without notice if the committee has failed to report by the time required in its instructions, or whenever the assembly is considering its partial report)

  • Can be reconsidered if it fails

Depending on whether you’re dealing with a special committee or a standing committee (see Chapter 16), you make the motion to Discharge a Committee by using the following forms:

  • Special committee: “Madam Chairman, I move that the special committee to plan a spring picnic be discharged.”

  • Standing committee: “Madam Chairman, I move that the meeting arrangements committee be discharged from further consideration of the proposed conference in July.”

In placing the motion before your group, your presiding officer takes a rising vote because the motion requires a two-thirds vote for adoption. However, if notice has been given, only a majority vote is necessary to discharge the committee.

After a special committee makes its final report or is discharged by motion by your group, the committee ceases to exist. The matter it was handling is then immediately in the hands of your group, unless the motion to Discharge the Committee established a particular time to take up the committee’s report and recommendations.

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