Calling the Question


At the last Town Council meeting, there was some confusion about procedure according to Robert’s Rules. The following excerpt clarifies the proper procedure concerning, “Call the question.”

Must debate on a motion stop immediately as soon as any member calls the question?


It is a fairly common misconception that, after debate has continued for some time, if any member shouts out “Question!” or “I call the question!” debate must immediately cease and the chair must put the pending question to a vote. This is simply not the case. Any member who wishes to force an end to debate must first obtain the floor by being duly recognized to speak by the chair, and must then move the Previous Question. Such a motion must be seconded, and then adopted by a two-thirds vote, or by unanimous consent. It is not in order to interrupt a speaker with cries of “Question” or “Call the Question,” and even if no one is speaking, it is still necessary to seek recognition. [RONR (11th ed.), p. 202; see also pp. 35-37 of RONRIB.]

“RONRIB” is the standard parliamentary abbreviation to cite Henry M. Robert III and others, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief (Da Capo Press, 2011). The standard citation to particular pages is “RONRIB, p. or pp. [for ‘page’ or ‘pages’].”



Becky Bodnar
Fort Myers Beach