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Postpone Indefinitely

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Postpone Indefinitely

Rod G Davidson, Professional Registered Parliamentarian

Parliamentary Procedure: What does it mean and why is it important?

Puzzled by the motion to Postpone Indefinitely? After you complete this online module and take the short quiz to test your understanding and refresh your memory, you will feel more confident about this parliamentary puzzler. Here’s a chance to learn a thing or two about the motion to Postpone Indefinitely, courtesy of the public domain version of Robert's Rules of Order Revised, Fourth Edition.

The motion to Postpone Indefinitely takes precedence of nothing except the main motion to which it is applied, and yields to all privileged, incidental, and other subsidiary motions. It cannot be amended or have any other subsidiary motion applied to it except the previous question and motions limiting or extending the limits of debate. It is debatable and opens the main question to debate. It can be applied to nothing but main questions, which include questions of privilege and orders of the day after they are before the assembly for consideration. An affirmative vote on it may be reconsidered, but not a negative vote. If lost it cannot be renewed. It is simply a motion to reject the main question. If a main motion is referred to a committee while to postpone indefinitely is pending, the latter motion is ignored and does not go to the committee.

The Purpose of this motion is not to postpone, but to reject, the main motion without incurring the risk of a direct vote on it, and it is made only by the enemies of the main motion when they are in doubt as to their being in the majority.

The Effect of making this motion is to enable members who have exhausted their right of debate on the main question, to speak again, as technically, the question before the assembly is different, while, as far as the subject of discussion is concerned, there is no difference caused by changing the question from adopting to rejecting the measure, because the merits of the main question are open to debate in either case. If adopted, its effect is to suppress the main motion for that session, unless the vote is reconsidered.

As this motion does not suppress the debate on the main question, its only useful effect is to give the opponents of the pending measure a chance of killing the main motion without risking its adoption in case of failure. For, if they carry the indefinite postponement, the main question is suppressed for the session; if they fail, they still have a vote on the main question, and, having learned their strength by the vote taken, they can form an opinion of the advisability of continuing the struggle.

Now, test your understanding of the motion to Postpone Indefinitely.  Answer the questions below and then click the button underneath to see your results. Good luck!

1. The motion to Postpone Indefinitely __________ .


is useful in disposing of a badly chosen main motion without adopting or rejecting the motion


is used to hold off on voting on a motion until the annual convention


is useful in bringing a main motion to a vote before the current session ends


2. The motion to Postpone Indefinitely can be used by strategists  __________ .


to test their strength on a motion they oppose


to test whether the motion to which it is applied is amendable


to test the society to see if it is strong enough to endorse such a motion


3. If a main motion is referred to a committee while Postpone Indefinitely is pending, __________ .


Postpone Indefinitely is voted on immediately


Postpone Indefinitely is also referred to the committee


Postpone Indefinitely is ignored and does not go to the committee


4. Debate on the motion to Postpone Indefinitely __________ .


must be limited to two speeches of five minutes each per speaker


can only be limited to discussion of the reasons to kill the motion


can go fully into the merits of the main question


5. Postpone Indefinitely __________ .


takes precedence over the motion Postpone to a Certain Time


can be applied to Point of Information and Point of Order


yields to all other subsidiary, privileged, and applicable incidental motions



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