As visible in yesterday's Congressional Record, there are a number of uncontroversial motions made by the majority leader which passed by unanimous consent. After the motions pass, he moves to "reconsider the vote by which the resolution is considered and agreed to". Then another senator from his party moves to table that motion, which also passes by unanimous consent. Why would someone move to reconsider a vote which they just won?

Here's one of the resolutions, S. Res. 7

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I have a resolution at the desk, and I ask for its immediate consideration.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the resolution by title.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
A resolution (S. Res. 7) fixing the hour of daily meeting of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, the resolution is considered and agreed to.
The resolution (S. Res. 7) reads as follows:
S. RES. 7
Resolved, That the daily meeting of the Senate be 12 o’clock meridian unless otherwise ordered.
Mr. McCONNELL. I move to reconsider the vote by which the resolution was agreed to.
Mr. DURBIN. I move to lay that motion on the table.
The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.

1 Answer 1


Answering my own question (and someone please post a correct answer if I'm wrong), I believe what's going on is a way to make it much more difficult to reopen debate on routine appointments. To prevent the minority party from re-debating routine appointments, one senator moves to reconsider the vote which just happened, and an ally immediately moves to table that reconsideration. Wikipedia mentions something similar.

This is better from the perspective of the majority, since the motion to reconsider would allow the appointment to be re-debated, but once the motion is tabled, there's no way to take it from the table without a suspension of the rules, which requires a supermajority, and is not debatable, and the opposition can't make the motion again since it's already been made and tabled.

The Senate Rule V don't actually mention that it's not debatable, but it's generally not in, eg, RONR.

As @Bobson points out, the Senate glossary describes this usage exactly.

Senate rules permit one motion to reconsider any question decided by vote, if offered by a senator who voted on the winning side. Normally a supporter of the outcome immediately moves to reconsider the vote, and the same senator or another immediately moves to table this motion, thus securing the outcome of the vote.

  • 1
    Yep, looks like it. See here and here.
    – Bobson
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 20:41
  • Thanks @Bobson, I'll edit those into my answer (crediting you of course).
    – dsolimano
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 20:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .