Postpone indefinitely

Postpone indefinitely

The motion to postpone indefinitely, in parliamentary procedure, is a subsidiary motion used to kill a main motion without taking a direct vote on it.

Explanation and Use

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR)

The effect of the motion, if adopted, is not to "postpone" the main motion, but rather to prevent action on it for the duration of the current session. The motion to postpone indefinitely is the lowest-ranking of all motions other than the main motion, and therefore it cannot be made while any other subsidiary, privileged or incidental motion is pending.

Because debate on the motion to postpone indefinitely may go into the merits of the pending main motion, it may provide members of the assembly with additional opportunities to debate the main motion beyond the number of speeches normally permitted by the rules. It can also be used by opponents of a main motion to test whether they have the votes needed to defeat the main motion, without risking a direct vote. If the motion to postpone indefinitely is defeated, direct consideration of the main motion is resumed, and opponents of the motion may then determine whether to continue in their effort to defeat the main motion.

The Standard Code (TSC)

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure does not recognize this motion, and criticizes it for being outdated, confusing and, under certain circumstances, unfair. The claim of unfairness results from the fact that it gives opponents of a main motion two chances to defeat it, while supporters have only one chance to pass it. The Standard Code instead recommends use of the motion to table, which under these circumstances would require a two-thirds vote.


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