In a legislative context, to “lay on the table” refers to the action of temporarily postponing consideration of a motion or bill.
This is typically done when the legislative body, such as a parliament or congress, determines that it is not ready or able to properly consider the matter at the current time.
When a motion or bill is “laid on the table,” it is essentially put aside until a future date when the legislative body can give it the attention it deserves.
This could be for a variety of reasons, such as the need to gather more information, the desire to prioritize other pressing matters, or simply a lack of consensus among members on how to proceed with the motion or bill.
Laying a motion or bill on the table is not a permanent decision, and the legislative body can choose to revisit it at any time. However, the decision to lay it on the table is a significant one, as it effectively puts the motion or bill on hold and prevents it from being acted upon in the short term.
This procedure is often used as a way to avoid making a decision on a contentious or complicated issue, or as a means of delaying action on a matter until a more opportune time.
In some cases, a motion or bill that is laid on the table may never be brought back up for consideration, effectively killing it without the need for a formal vote.
In parliamentary procedure, the term “lay on the table” is used to refer to a specific motion that can be made by a member of the legislative body.
This motion is used to bring the matter of the motion or bill before the body for consideration, and must be seconded by another member in order for it to be put to a vote. If the motion is approved, the legislative body will then decide whether to lay the matter on the table or to proceed with considering it.
One of the most widely used parliamentary procedures, tabling can be effected through unanimous consent — where the Chair states: “without objection, the matter is laid upon the table” — or put to a vote. However, tabling a resolution can be controversial because it permanently ends debate on an issue.
The term “lay on the table” is often used interchangeably with similar terms such as “defer” or “postpone,” and all three refer to the temporary postponing of consideration of a motion or bill.
However, the specific procedures for laying a motion or bill on the table may vary depending on the rules and customs of the particular legislative body.
Examples of “lay on the table” in a sentence
- The chairman suggested that we lay the bill on the table until we have had a chance to review all of the proposed amendments.
- After several hours of debate, the motion to lay the resolution on the table was approved by a narrow margin.
- If the majority of the committee votes to lay the proposal on the table, it will effectively kill the bill without the need for a full vote on the floor.