A motion in amendment arises out of debate and is proposed either to modify the original motion, in order to make it more acceptable to the House, or to present a different proposition as an alternative to the original. It requires no notice and is submitted in writing to the Chair. After the amendment has been moved, seconded and examined as to its procedural acceptability, the Chair submits it to the House. Debate on the main motion is set aside and the amendment is debated until it has been decided, whereupon debate resumes on the main motion and another amendment may be proposed.
Just as the text of a main motion may be amended, an amendment may itself be amended. A subamendment is an amendment proposed to an amendment. In most cases, there is no limit on the number of amendments that may be moved; however, only one amendment and one subamendment may be before the House at any one time.
An amendment should take the form of a motion to:
An amendment should be drafted so that, if agreed to, it will leave the main motion intelligible and consistent with itself.
An amendment is out of order procedurally if:
The mover of a motion cannot move an amendment to his or her own motion, and likewise, the mover of an amendment may not move an amendment to his or her amendment. Subamendments must be strictly relevant to the amendment and seek to modify the amendment, not the original question; they cannot enlarge upon the amendment, introduce new matters foreign to the amendment, or differ in substance from the amendment. Since subamendments cannot be further amended, a Member wishing to change one under debate must wait until it is defeated and then offer a new subamendment.
There are specific rules concerning amendments to bills during consideration at committee stage and at report stage. For more information, see the section entitled “Legislative Process”.