Robert's Rules and the Motion to Consider by Paragraph - dummies

Robert’s Rules and the Motion to Consider by Paragraph

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

You can use the motion to Consider Seriatim, or Consider by Paragraph, anytime your parliamentary situation has you considering a long report or a motion with many parts, and you want to be able to discuss and amend each part in a logical sequence before finally considering the document as a whole.

The motion Consideration by Paragraph

  • Can’t interrupt a speaker who has the floor

  • Must be seconded

  • Isn’t debatable

  • Can be amended

  • Requires a majority vote

  • Can’t be reconsidered

Move for consideration by paragraph

In most situations where this procedure would be in order, the chair likely will just handle the subject matter by seriatim (section by section) anyway. But if he doesn’t do so, you can make the motion. The chairman will probably handle your motion by asking for unanimous consent, but it’s just as proper for him to call for a voice vote.

Follow procedure for consideration by paragraph

Your group has come to the point in the meeting when it’s time to consider whether to adopt the revision of the bylaws, and you’ve adopted the motion to consider it by paragraph.

In this case, the chairman of the revision committee presents the first section. The chair then asks for discussion or amendments on that section. The process for debate and amendment is handled like it is for any other motion, and when you’ve finished with the first section, you move on to the next one.

After you’ve gone through the whole document and amended everything to your group’s satisfaction, the chair opens the entire document to amendment. It’s the group’s final chance to make changes.

As with any main motion, you can debate and amend anything about the document. When you get to the point that nobody wants to make any more changes and everybody has had a say, the group votes on the amended revision, and the chair announces the result.

Consider as a whole

Sometimes the report or revision has been so overworked that the membership is ready to just adopt everything the way it is; the members don’t really care to go through it by paragraph.

In this case, the motion to consider by paragraph may fail, or somebody may move to Consider As a Whole. This motion requires a second, and if such a motion passes, you proceed directly with the consideration of, and then the vote on, the report or revision. Consider As a Whole is subject to the same rules as Consideration by Paragraph or Seriatim.

Whether or not you consider a motion by paragraph depends on the pleasure of the group. But seriatim (point by point) consideration is definitely the way to go if you intend to review the item as a group one last time before the final vote.