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United States House of Representatives

United States House of Representatives

Overview
The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 House of Representatives
is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, the bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 which also includes the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

 of the Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. The major power of the House is to pass federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 that affects the entire country
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, although its bills must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 before becoming law (unless both the House and Senate re-pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority
Majority
A majority is a subset of a group consisting of more than half of its members. This can be compared to a plurality, which is a subset larger than any other subset; i.e. a plurality is not necessarily a majority as the largest subset may consist of less than half the group's population...

 in each chamber).
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Encyclopedia
The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 House of Representatives
is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, the bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 which also includes the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

 of the Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

. The major power of the House is to pass federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 that affects the entire country
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, although its bills must also be passed by the Senate and further agreed to by the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 before becoming law (unless both the House and Senate re-pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority
Majority
A majority is a subset of a group consisting of more than half of its members. This can be compared to a plurality, which is a subset larger than any other subset; i.e. a plurality is not necessarily a majority as the largest subset may consist of less than half the group's population...

 in each chamber). Each state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 receives representation
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 in the House in proportion to its population but is entitled to at least one representative. The most populous state, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, currently has 53 representatives. The total number of voting representatives
United States congressional apportionment
United States congressional apportionment is the process by which seats in the United States House of Representatives are redistributed amongst the 50 states following each constitutionally mandated decennial census. Each state is apportioned a number of seats which approximately corresponds to its...

 is fixed by law
Public Law 62-5
-Subsequent apportionment:For the first and only time, Congress failed to pass an apportionment act after the 1920 census. This left the allocations of the Act of 1911 in place until the 1930 census. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 established a method for reallocating seats among the states,...

 at 435. Each representative serves for a two-year term. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

, traditionally the leader of the majority party, is the presiding officer of the chamber, elected by the members of the House.

The Constitution grants the House several exclusive powers: the power to initiate revenue
Tax revenue
Tax revenue is the income that is gained by governments through taxation.Just as there are different types of tax, the form in which tax revenue is collected also differs; furthermore, the agency that collects the tax may not be part of central government, but may be an alternative third-party...

 bills, to impeach
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 officials, and to elect the President in case of an Electoral College
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

 deadlock.

The House meets in the south wing of the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

, with the Senate meeting in the north wing of the same building.

History


Under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, Congress was a unicameral body in which each state held one vote. After eight years of a more limited federal government under the Articles, numerous political leaders, such as James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, initiated the Constitutional Convention
Philadelphia Convention
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from...

 in 1787, which received the Confederation Congress's permission to "amend the Articles of Confederation". All states except Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 agreed to send delegates.

The issue of how Congress was to be structured was one of the most divisive among the founders
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 during the Convention. James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

's Virginia Plan
Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates, for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787...

 called for a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 Congress: the lower house would be "of the people," elected directly by the people of the United States and representing public opinion
Public opinion
Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views....

, and a more deliberative upper house that would represent the individual states, and would be less susceptible to variations of mass sentiment, would be elected by the lower house.

The House is referred to as the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

, with the Senate being the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

, although the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 does not use that terminology. Both houses' approval is necessary for the passage of legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

. The Virginia Plan drew the support of delegates from large states such as Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, as it called for representation based on population. The smaller states, however, favored the New Jersey Plan
New Jersey Plan
The New Jersey Plan was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government proposed by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787...

, which called for a unicameral Congress with equal representation for the states.

Eventually, the Convention reached the Connecticut Compromise
Connecticut Compromise
The Connecticut Compromise was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution...

, or the Great Compromise, under which one house of Congress (the House of Representatives) would provide representation proportional to each state's population, whereas the other (the Senate) would provide equal representation amongst the states. The Constitution was ratified by the requisite number of states (nine out of the 13) in 1788, but its implementation was set for March 4, 1789. The House began work on April 1, 1789, when it achieved a quorum
Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group...

 for the first time.

During the first half of the 19th Century, the House was frequently in conflict with the Senate over regionally divisive issues, including slavery. The North
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

 was much more populous than the South
History of the Southern United States
The history of the Southern United States reaches back hundreds of years and includes the Mississippian people, well known for their mound building. European history in the region began in the very earliest days of the exploration and colonization of North America...

, and therefore dominated the House of Representatives. However, the North held no such advantage in the Senate, where the equal representation of states prevailed.

Regional conflict was most pronounced over the issue of slavery. One example of a provision repeatedly supported by the House but blocked by the Senate was the Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

, which sought to ban slavery in the land gained during the Mexican-American War. Conflict over slavery and other issues persisted until the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 (1861–1865), which began soon after several southern states attempted to secede
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from the Union. The war culminated in the South's defeat and in the abolition of slavery. Because all southern senators except Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 resigned their seats at the beginning of the war, the Senate did not have the balance of power between North and South during the war.

The years of Reconstruction that followed witnessed large majorities for the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, which many Americans associated with the Union's victory in the Civil War and the ending of slavery. The Reconstruction period ended in about 1877; the ensuing era, known as the Gilded Age
Gilded Age
In United States history, the Gilded Age refers to the era of rapid economic and population growth in the United States during the post–Civil War and post-Reconstruction eras of the late 19th century. The term "Gilded Age" was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded...

, was marked by sharp political divisions in the electorate. The Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and the Republican Party held majorities in the House at various times.

The late 19th and early 20th Centuries also saw a dramatic increase in the power of the Speaker of the House. The rise of the Speaker's influence began in the 1890s, during tenure of Republican Thomas Brackett Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed
Thomas Brackett Reed, , occasionally ridiculed as Czar Reed, was a U.S. Representative from Maine, and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1889–1891 and from 1895–1899...

. "Czar Reed," as he was nicknamed, attempted to put into effect his view that "The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch." The leadership structure of the House also developed during approximately the same period, with the positions of Majority Leader and Minority Leader
Minority leader of the United States House of Representatives
The House Minority Leader is one of the party leaders of the United States House of Representatives. This title is currently held by Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi of California....

 being created in 1899. While the Minority Leader was the head of the minority party, the Majority Leader remained subordinate to the Speaker. The Speakership reached its zenith during the term of Republican Joseph Gurney Cannon
Joseph Gurney Cannon
Joseph Gurney Cannon was a United States politician from Illinois and leader of the Republican Party. Cannon served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1903 to 1911, and historians generally consider him to be the most dominant Speaker in United States history, with such...

, 1903 to 1911. The powers of the Speaker included chairmanship of the influential Rules Committee
United States House Committee on Rules
The Committee on Rules, or Rules Committee, is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. Rather than being responsible for a specific area of policy, as most other committees are, it is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor...

 and the ability to appoint members of other House committees. These powers, however, were curtailed in the "Revolution of 1910" because of the efforts of Democrats and dissatisfied Republicans who opposed Cannon's arguably heavy-handed tactics.
The Democratic Party dominated the House of Representatives during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 (1933–1945), often winning over two-thirds of the seats. Both Democrats and Republicans were in power at various times during the next decade. The Democratic Party maintained control of the House from 1954 until 1995. In the mid-1970s, there were major reforms of the House, strengthening the power of sub-committees at the expense of committee chairs and allowing party leaders to nominate committee chairs. These actions were taken to undermine the seniority system, and to reduce the ability of a small number of senior members to obstruct legislation they did not favor. There was also a shift from the 1970s to greater control of the legislative program by the majority party; the power of party leaders (especially the Speaker) grew considerably.

The Republicans took control of the House
Republican Revolution
The Republican Revolution or Revolution of '94 is what the media dubbed Republican Party success in the 1994 U.S. midterm elections, which resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate...

 in 1995, under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is a U.S. Republican Party politician who served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995 and as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999....

. Gingrich attempted to pass a major legislative program, the Contract with America
Contract with America
The Contract with America was a document released by the United States Republican Party during the 1994 Congressional election campaign. Written by Larry Hunter, who was aided by Newt Gingrich, Robert Walker, Richard Armey, Bill Paxon, Tom DeLay, John Boehner and Jim Nussle, and in part using text...

 on which the House Republicans had been elected, and made major reforms of the House, notably reducing the tenure of committee chairs to three two-year terms. Many elements of the Contract did not pass Congress, were vetoed by President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, or were substantially altered in negotiations with Clinton. The Republicans held on to the House until the United States Congressional elections, 2006, during which the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi is the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011...

 was subsequently elected by the House as the first female Speaker. In the United States House of Representatives elections, 2010
United States House of Representatives elections, 2010
The 2010 United States House of Representatives elections, also known as the 2010 midterm elections, were held on November 2, 2010, at the midpoint of President Barack Obama's first term in office. Voters of the 50 U.S. states chose 435 U.S. Representatives. Voters of the U.S...

 Republicans retook the House in the largest shift of power since the 1930s.

Apportionment



Under Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned
United States congressional apportionment
United States congressional apportionment is the process by which seats in the United States House of Representatives are redistributed amongst the 50 states following each constitutionally mandated decennial census. Each state is apportioned a number of seats which approximately corresponds to its...

 among the states by population, as determined by the census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

 conducted every ten years. Each state, however, is entitled to at least one Representative.

The only constitutional rule relating to the size of the House
United States congressional apportionment
United States congressional apportionment is the process by which seats in the United States House of Representatives are redistributed amongst the 50 states following each constitutionally mandated decennial census. Each state is apportioned a number of seats which approximately corresponds to its...

 says: "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand." Congress regularly increased the size of the House to account for population growth until it fixed the number of voting House members at 435 in 1911. The number was temporarily increased to 437 in 1959 upon the admission of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 (seating one representative from each of those states without changing existing apportionment), and returned to 435 four years later, after the reapportionment consequent to the 1960 census
United States Census, 1960
The Eighteenth United States Census, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States to be 179,323,175, an increase of 18.5 percent over the 151,325,798 persons enumerated during the 1950 Census.-Census questions:...

.

The Constitution does not provide for the representation of the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 or of territories
United States territory
United States territory is any extent of region under the jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters including all U.S. Naval carriers. The United States has traditionally proclaimed the sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing its...

. However, those places elect non-voting delegates
Delegate (United States Congress)
A delegate to Congress is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives who is elected from a U.S. territory and from Washington, D.C. to a two-year term. While unable to vote in the full House, a non-voting delegate may vote in a House committee of which the delegate is a member...

 or, in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, a Resident Commissioner
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives elected by the voters of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico every four years...

. The District of Columbia
District of Columbia voting rights
Voting rights of citizens in the District of Columbia differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. District of Columbia residents do not have voting representation in the United States Senate, but D.C. is entitled to three electoral votes for President. In the U.S...

 and the territories of American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, the Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are represented by one delegate each. Puerto Rico elects a Resident Commissioner, but other than having a four-year term, the Resident Commissioner's role is identical to the delegates from the other territories. The six Delegates and Resident Commissioners may participate in debates; prior to 2011, they were also allowed to vote in committees and the Committee of the Whole
Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives)
In the United States House of Representatives, the Committee of the Whole, short for Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, is a parliamentary device in which the House of Representatives is considered one large congressional committee...

 when their votes would not be decisive.

The lawsuit Clemons v. Department of Commerce
Clemons v. Department of Commerce
Clemons v. Department of Commerce was a lawsuit filed in the U.S...

has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. The suit seeks a court order for Congress to reapportion the House of Representatives with a greater number of members following the 2010 Census, in order to rectify under- and over-representation of some states with the 435 rule. If this occurs, this would also affect Electoral College apportionment for the 2012 and subsequent presidential elections. The court has granted oral arguments, which occurred on May 28, 2010 but ultimately vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on December 13, 2010.

Redistricting


States that are entitled to more than one Representative are divided into single-member
Single-winner voting systems
A single-member district or single-member constituency is an electoral district that returns one officeholder to a body with multiple members such as a legislature...

 districts. This has been a federal statutory requirement since 1967. Prior to that law, general ticket
General ticket
General ticket representation is a term used to describe a particular method of electing members of a multi-member state delegation to the United States House of Representatives...

 representation was used by some states. Typically, states redraw these district lines (see redistricting
Redistricting
Redistricting is the process of drawing United States electoral district boundaries, often in response to population changes determined by the results of the decennial census. In 36 states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, in many cases subject to...

) after each census, though they may do so at other times (see 2003 Texas redistricting
2003 Texas redistricting
The 2003 Texas redistricting refers to a controversial mid-decade congressional redistricting plan appealed to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry...

). Each state determines its own district boundaries, either through legislation or through non-partisan panels. "Malapportionment" is unconstitutional and districts must be approximately equal in population (see Wesberry v. Sanders
Wesberry v. Sanders
Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1 was a U.S. Supreme Court case involving U.S. Congressional districts in the state of Georgia. The Court issued its ruling on February 17, 1964. This decision requires each state to draw its U.S...

)
. The Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 prohibits states from "gerrymandering
Gerrymandering
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

" districts to reduce racial minorities' voting power.

Qualifications


Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for representatives. Each representative must: (1) be at least twenty-five years old; (2) have been a citizen
United States nationality law
Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution expressly gives the United States Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization. The Immigration and Naturalization Act sets forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of, and divestiture from, citizenship of...

 of the United States for the past seven years; and (3) be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they represent. Members need not live in their districts. The age and citizenship qualifications for representatives are less than those for senators. The constitutional requirements of Article I, Section 2 for election to Congress are the maximum requirements that can be imposed on a candidate. Therefore, Article I, Section 5, which permits each House to be the judge of the qualifications of its own members does not permit either House to establish additional qualifications. Likewise a State could not establish additional qualifications.

Disqualification. Under the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, a federal or state officer who takes the requisite oath to support the Constitution, but later engages in rebellion or aids the enemies of the United States, is disqualified from becoming a representative. This post-Civil War provision was intended to prevent those who sided with the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 from serving. However, disqualified individuals may serve if they gain the consent of two-thirds of both houses of Congress.

Elections


Elections for representatives are held in every even-numbered year, on Election Day
Election Day (United States)
Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the general elections of public officials. It occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8...

 the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. By law Representatives must be elected from single-member districts by plurality voting
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

.

In most states, major party candidates for each district are nominated in partisan primary election
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

s, typically held in spring to late summer. In some states, the Republican and Democratic parties choose their respective candidates for each district in their political convention
Political convention
In politics, a political convention is a meeting of a political party, typically to select party candidates.In the United States, a political convention usually refers to a presidential nominating convention, but it can also refer to state, county, or congressional district nominating conventions...

s in spring or early summer, which often use unanimous voice votes to reflect either confidence in the incumbent or the result of bargaining in earlier private discussions. Exceptions can result in so-called floor fight—convention votes by delegates, with outcomes that can be hard to predict. Especially if a convention is closely divided, a losing candidate may contend further by meeting the conditions for a primary election.

The courts generally do not consider ballot access
Ballot access
Ballot access rules, called nomination rules outside the United States, regulate the conditions under which a candidate or political party is either entitled to stand for election or to appear on voters' ballots...

 rules for independent
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

 and third party
Third party (politics)
In a two-party system of politics, the term third party is sometimes applied to a party other than the two dominant ones. While technically the term is limited to the third largest party or third oldest party, it is common, though innumerate, shorthand for any smaller party.For instance, in the...

 candidates to be additional qualifications for holding office and there are no federal regulations regarding ballot access. As a result, the process to gain ballot access varies greatly from state to state, and, in the case of a third party
Third party (politics)
In a two-party system of politics, the term third party is sometimes applied to a party other than the two dominant ones. While technically the term is limited to the third largest party or third oldest party, it is common, though innumerate, shorthand for any smaller party.For instance, in the...

 may be affected by results of previous years' elections.

Since 1967, Federal law has required that House Members be elected from single-member-districts, thereby not permitting the use of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

.
Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 is unique in that it holds an all-party "primary election" on the general Election Day with a subsequent runoff election
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

 between the top two finishers (regardless of party) if no candidate received a majority in the primary. The state of Washington now uses a similar (though not identical) system to that used by Louisiana. Seats vacated during a term are filled through special elections, unless the vacancy occurs closer to the next general election date than a pre-established deadline. The term of a member chosen in a special election usually begins the next day, or as soon as the results are certified.

Terms


Representatives and Delegates serve for two-year terms, while the Resident Commissioner serves for four years. The Constitution permits the House to expel a member with a two-thirds vote. In the history of the United States, only five members have been expelled from the House; in 1861, three were removed for supporting the Confederate states' secession, John Bullock Clark
John Bullock Clark
John Bullock Clark, Sr. was a member of both the United States Congress and the Confederate Congress.-Biography:...

 (D-MO), John William Reid
John William Reid
John William Reid was a U.S. Representative from Missouri.-Biography:Born near Lynchburg, Virginia, Reid attended the common schools.In 1840, Reid moved to Missouri, where he taught school and studied law....

 (D-MO), and Henry Cornelius Burnett
Henry Cornelius Burnett
Henry Cornelius Burnett was a U.S. Representative from the state of Kentucky and a Confederate States Senator. A lawyer by profession, Burnett had held only one public office—circuit court clerk—before being elected to Congress. He represented Kentucky's 1st congressional district during the...

 (D-KY). Michael Myers
Michael Myers (politician)
Michael Joseph "Ozzie" Myers is a politician from the American state of Pennsylvania.He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Myers, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976. Myers had previously been a longshoreman. He was regarded as a "maverick"...

 (D-PA) was expelled after his criminal conviction for accepting bribes in 1980, and James Traficant
James Traficant
James Anthony Traficant, Jr. is a former Democratic Representative in the United States Congress from Ohio . He represented the 17th Congressional District, which centered on his hometown of Youngstown and included parts of three counties in northeast Ohio's Mahoning Valley...

 (D-OH) was expelled in 2002 following his conviction for corruption. The House also has the power to formally censure
Censure
A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. Among the forms that it can take are a stern rebuke by a legislature, a spiritual penalty imposed by a church, and a negative judgment pronounced on a theological proposition.-Politics:...

 or reprimand its members; censure or reprimand requires only a simple majority, but does not remove a member from office.

Comparison to the Senate


As a check on the popularly elected House, the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 has several distinct powers. For example, the "advice and consent
Advice and consent
Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts, describing a situation in which the executive branch of a government enacts something previously approved of by the legislative branch.-General:The expression is...

" powers (such as the power to approve treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

) is a sole Senate privilege. The House, however, can initiate spending bills and has exclusive authority to impeach officials and choose the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in an Electoral College deadlock. The Senate and House are further differentiated by term lengths and the number of districts represented. With longer terms, fewer members and (in all but seven delegations) larger constituencies, senators may receive greater prestige. Additionally, the Senate has traditionally been considered a less partisan chamber because fewer members gives the Senate a greater potential to broker compromises and act more unilaterally.

Salaries


, the annual salary of each Representative is $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

174,000. The Speaker of the House
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 and the Majority and Minority Leader
Minority leader of the United States House of Representatives
The House Minority Leader is one of the party leaders of the United States House of Representatives. This title is currently held by Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi of California....

s earn more: $223,500 for the Speaker and $193,400 for their party leaders (the same as Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 leaders). A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes to not accept it. Congress sets members' salaries; however, the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of the Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives...

 prohibits a change in salary (but not COLA) from taking effect until after the next general election. Representatives (just like all federal employees) are eligible for retirement benefits after serving for five years.

Titles


Representatives use the prefix "The Honorable" before their names. A member of the House is referred to as a "Representative," "Congressman," or "Congresswoman." While Senators are technically "Congressmen" or "Congresswomen," that term is generally used to refer to Members of the House of Representatives exclusively. The Delegates and the Resident Commissioner use the same styles and titles as Members of the House.

Member officials


The party with a majority of seats in the House is known as the majority party. The next-largest party is the minority party. The Speaker
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

, committee chairs, and some other officials are generally from the majority party; they have counterparts (for instance, the "ranking members" of committees) in the minority party.
The Constitution provides that the House may choose its own Speaker. Although not explicitly required by the Constitution, every Speaker has been a member of the House. The Constitution does not specify the duties and powers of the Speaker, which are instead regulated by the rules and customs of the House. Speakers have a role both as a leader of the House and the leader of their party (which need not be the majority party; theoretically, a member of the minority party could be elected as Speaker with the support of a fraction of members of the majority party). Under the Presidential Succession Act
Presidential Succession Act
The Presidential Succession Act establishes the line of succession to the powers and duties of the office of President of the United States in the event that neither a President nor Vice President is able to "discharge the powers and duties of the office." The current Presidential Succession Act...

 (1947), the Speaker is second in the line of presidential succession
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

 behind the Vice President.

The Speaker is the presiding officer of the House but does not preside over every debate. Instead, he or she delegates the responsibility of presiding to other members in most cases. The presiding officer sits in a chair in the front of the House chamber. The powers of the presiding officer are extensive; one important power is that of controlling the order in which members of the House speak. No member may make a speech or a motion unless he or she has first been recognized by the presiding officer. Moreover, the presiding officer may rule on a "point of order
Point of order
A point of order is a matter raised during consideration of a motion concerning the rules of parliamentary procedure.-Explanation and uses:A point of order may be raised if the rules appear to have been broken. This may interrupt a speaker during debate, or anything else if the breach of the rules...

" (a member's objection that a rule has been breached); the decision is subject to appeal to the whole House.

Speakers serve as chairs of their party's steering committee, which is responsible for assigning party members to other House committees. The Speaker chooses the chairs of standing committees, appoints most of the members of the Rules Committee
United States House Committee on Rules
The Committee on Rules, or Rules Committee, is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. Rather than being responsible for a specific area of policy, as most other committees are, it is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor...

, appoints all members of conference committees, and determines which committees consider bills.

Each party elects a floor leader
Floor Leader
Floor Leaders are leaders of their political parties in each of the houses of the legislature.- Senate :In the United States Senate, they are elected by their respective party conferences to serve as the chief Senate spokesmen for their parties and to manage and schedule the legislative and...

, who is known as the Majority Leader
Majority leader
In U.S. politics, the majority floor leader is a partisan position in a legislative body.In the federal Congress, the role differs slightly in the two houses. In the House of Representatives, which chooses its own presiding officer, the leader of the majority party is elected the Speaker of the...

 or Minority Leader
Minority leader
In U.S. politics, the minority leader is the floor leader of the second largest caucus in a legislative body. Given the two-party nature of the U.S. system, the minority leader is almost inevitably either a Republican or a Democrat, with their counterpart being of the opposite party. The position...

. The Minority Leader heads his or her party in the House, and the Majority Leader is his or her party's second-highest ranking official, behind the Speaker. Party leaders decide what legislation members of their party should either support or oppose.

Each party also elects a whip
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

, who works to ensure that the party's members vote as the party leadership desires. The current majority whip in the House of Representatives is Kevin McCarthy, who is a member of the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. The current minority whip is Steny Hoyer
Steny Hoyer
Steny Hamilton Hoyer is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1981. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C.. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

, who is a member of the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. The whip is supported by chief deputy whips.

In the 112th Congress, the Democratic Party has an additional Assistant Minority Leader, Jim Clyburn
Jim Clyburn
James Enos "Jim" Clyburn is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993, and the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. He was previously House Majority Whip, serving in that post from 2007 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party...

, who ranks between the whips and the caucus/conference chair.

After the whips, the next ranking official in the House party's leadership is the Party Conference Chair
Party caucuses and conferences in the United States Congress
Members of each major party in the United States Congress meet regularly in closed sessions known as party conferences or party caucuses . Participants set legislative agendas, select committee members and chairs, and hold elections to choose various Floor leaders...

 (styled as the Republican Conference Chair and Democratic Caucus Chair).

After the Conference Chair, there are differences between each party's subsequent leadership ranks. After the Democratic Caucus Chair is the Campaign Committee Chair (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is the Democratic Hill committee for the United States House of Representatives, working to elect Democrats to that body. They play a critical role in recruiting candidates, raising funds, and organizing races in districts that are expected to yield...

), then the co-chairs of the Steering Committee. For the Republicans it is the Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, followed by the Campaign Committee Chairman (styled as the National Republican Congressional Committee
National Republican Congressional Committee
The National Republican Congressional Committee is the Republican Hill committee which works to elect Republicans to the United States House of Representatives....

).

The chairs of House committees, particularly influential standing committees such as Appropriations
United States House Committee on Appropriations
The Committee on Appropriations is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States...

, Ways and Means
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

, and Rules
United States House Committee on Rules
The Committee on Rules, or Rules Committee, is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. Rather than being responsible for a specific area of policy, as most other committees are, it is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor...

, are powerful but not officially part of House leadership hierarchy. Until the post of Majority Leader was created, the Chair of Ways and Means was the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

majority leader.

Leadership and partisanship


Representatives are generally less independent of party leaders than senators, and usually vote as the leadership directs. Incentives to cooperate include the leadership's power to select committee chairs, determine committee assignments, and provide re-election support in the primary and general elections. As a result, the leadership plays a much greater role in the House than in the Senate, an example of why the atmosphere of the House is regarded by many as more partisan.

When the Presidency and Senate are controlled by a different party from the one controlling the House, the Speaker can become the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

"leader of the opposition." Since the Speaker is a partisan officer with substantial power to control the business of the House, the position is often used for partisan advantage.

In the instance when the Presidency and both Houses of Congress are controlled by one party, the Speaker normally takes a low profile and defers to the President. For that situation the House Minority Leader can play the role of a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

"leader of the opposition", often more so than the Senate Minority Leader, due to the more partisan nature of the House and the greater role of leadership.

Non-member officials


The House is also served by several officials who are not members. The House's chief officer is the Clerk
Clerk of the United States House of Representatives
The Clerk of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the United States House of Representatives, whose primary duty is to act as the chief record-keeper for the House....

, who maintains public records, prepares documents, and oversees junior officials, including pages. The Clerk also presides over the House at the beginning of each new Congress pending the election of a Speaker. Another officer is the Chief Administrative Officer
Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives
The Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives is the chief administrative officer of the United States House of Representatives, charged with carrying out administrative functions for the House, including human resources, information resources, payroll, finance,...

, responsible for the day-to-day administrative support to the House of Representatives. This includes everything from payroll to foodservice
Foodservice
Food Service or catering industry defines those businesses, institutions, and companies responsible for any meal prepared outside the home...

.

The position of Chief Administrative Officer
Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives
The Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives is the chief administrative officer of the United States House of Representatives, charged with carrying out administrative functions for the House, including human resources, information resources, payroll, finance,...

 (CAO) was created by the 104th Congress following the 1994 mid-term elections
United States elections, 1994
The 1994 elections in the United States were held on November 8, 1994. This was the year known as the Republican Revolution, in which members of the Republican Party stormed back to majorities in the House and Senate...

, replacing the positions of Doorkeeper
Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives
An appointed officer of the United States House of Representatives from 1789 to 1995, the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives was chosen by a resolution at the opening of each United States Congress. The Office of the Doorkeeper was based on precedent from the Continental...

 and Director of Non-Legislative and Financial Services (created by the previous congress to administer the non-partisan functions of the House). The CAO also assumed some of the responsibilities of the House Information Services, which previously had been controlled directly by the Committee on House Administration, then headed by Representative Charlie Rose
Charlie Rose (congressman)
Charles Grandison "Charlie" Rose III is a former Democratic United States Congressman from North Carolina who served from 1973 to 1997....

 of North Carolina, along with the House "Folding Room."

The Chaplain
Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives
The election of William Linn as Chaplain of the House on May 1, 1789, continued the tradition established by the Continental Congresses of each day's proceedings opening with a prayer by a chaplain. The early Chaplains alternated duties with their Senate counterparts on a weekly basis, covering the...

 leads the House in prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 at the opening of the day. There is also a Sergeant at Arms
Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The Sergeant at Arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the chamber...

, who as the House's chief law enforcement officer maintains order and security on House premises. Finally, routine police work is handled by the United States Capitol Police
United States Capitol Police
The United States Capitol Police is a federal police force charged with protecting the United States Congress within the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its territories.-History:...

, which is supervised by the Capitol Police Board
Capitol Police Board
The Capitol Police Board is a group of three members who maintain jurisdiction over the United States Capitol Police. The three members of this board are the Architect of the Capitol, the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate, and the Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of...

, a body to which the Sergeant at Arms belongs.

Daily procedures



Like the Senate, the House of Representatives meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. At one end of the chamber of the House is a rostrum
Podium
A podium is a platform that is used to raise something to a short distance above its surroundings. It derives from the Greek πόδι In architecture a building can rest on a large podium. Podia can also be used to raise people, for instance the conductor of an orchestra stands on a podium as do many...

 from which the Speaker
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 presides. The lower tier of the rostrum is used by clerks and other officials. Members' seats are arranged in the chamber in a semicircular pattern and are divided by a wide central aisle. By tradition, Democrats sit on the left of the center aisle, while Republicans sit on the right, as viewed from the presiding officer's chair. Sittings are normally held on weekdays; meetings on Saturdays and Sundays are rare. Sittings of the House are generally open to the public; visitors must obtain a House Gallery pass from a congressional office. Sittings are broadcast live on television and streamed online by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

.

The procedure of the House depends not only on the rules, but also on a variety of customs, precedents, and traditions. In many cases, the House waives some of its stricter rules (including time limits on debates) by unanimous consent
Unanimous consent
In parliamentary procedure, unanimous consent, also known as general consent, or in the case of the parliaments under the Westminster system, leave of the house, is a situation in which no one present objects to a proposal. The chair may state, for instance: "If there is no objection, the motion...

. A member may block a unanimous consent agreement; in practice, objections are rare. The presiding officer enforces the rules of the House, and may warn members who deviate from them. The presiding officer uses a gavel
Gavel
A gavel is a small ceremonial mallet commonly made of hardwood, typically fashioned with a handle and often struck against a sound block to enhance its sounding qualities. It is a symbol of the authority and right to act officially in the capacity of a chair or presiding officer. It is used to call...

 to maintain order. The box in which legislation is placed to be considered by the House is called the hopper
Clerk of the United States House of Representatives
The Clerk of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the United States House of Representatives, whose primary duty is to act as the chief record-keeper for the House....

.

In one of its first resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives established the Office of the Sergeant at Arms
Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The Sergeant at Arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the chamber...

. In an American tradition adopted from English custom in 1789 by the first Speaker of the House, Frederick Muhlenberg
Frederick Muhlenberg
Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg was an American minister and politician who was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A delegate and a member of the U.S...

 of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, the House of Representatives mace
Mace of the United States House of Representatives
The Mace of the United States House of Representatives is one of the oldest symbols of the United States government.-History:In one of its first resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives of the 1st Federal Congress established the Office of the Sergeant at Arms...

 is used to open all sessions of the House. It is also used during the inaugural ceremonies for all Presidents of the United States. For daily sessions of the House, the sergeant at Arms carries the mace in front of the Speaker in procession to the rostrum
Podium
A podium is a platform that is used to raise something to a short distance above its surroundings. It derives from the Greek πόδι In architecture a building can rest on a large podium. Podia can also be used to raise people, for instance the conductor of an orchestra stands on a podium as do many...

. It is placed on a green marble pedestal to the Speaker's right. When the House is in committee, the mace is moved to a pedestal next to the desk of the Sergeant at Arms.

The Constitution provides that a majority of the House constitutes a quorum
Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group...

 to do business. Under the rules and customs of the House, a quorum is always assumed unless a quorum call
Quorum call
A quorum call or call to quorum is a parliamentary procedure used to summon absent members of a deliberative body if a quorum is not present. Since attendance at debates is not mandatory in most legislatures, it is often the case that a quorum of members is not present while debate is ongoing...

 explicitly demonstrates otherwise. House rules prevent a member from making a point of order that a quorum is not present unless a question is being voted upon; the presiding officer will not accept a point of order of no quorum during general debate or when a question is not before the House.

During debates, a member may only speak if called upon by the presiding officer. The presiding officer may determine which members to recognize, and may therefore control the course of debate. All speeches must be addressed to the presiding officer, using the words "Mr. Speaker" or "Madam Speaker." Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in speeches; other members must be referred to in the third person. In most cases, members do not refer to each other by name, but by state, using forms such as "the gentleman from Virginia", "the distinguished gentlewoman from California", or "my distinguished friend from Alabama". Unlike the practice in the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, members refer to each other as friends regardless of whether they are members of the same party.

There are 448 permanent seats on the House Floor and four tables, two on each side. These tables are occupied by members of the committee that have brought a bill to the floor for consideration and by the respective party leadership. Members address the House from microphones at any table or "the well," the area immediately in front of the rostrum.

Passage of legislation


Per the constitution, the House determines the rules according to which it passes legislation. The rules are in principle open to change with each new Congress, but in practice each new session amends a standing set of rules built up over the history of the body in an early resolution published for public inspection. Before legislation reaches the floor of the House, the Rules Committee normally passes a rule to govern debate on that measure. For instance, the committee determines if amendments to the bill are permitted. An "open rule" permits all germane amendments, but a "closed rule" restricts or even prohibits amendment. Debate on a bill is generally restricted to one hour, equally divided between the majority and minority parties. Each side is led during the debate by a "floor manager," who allocates debate time to members who wish to speak. On contentious matters, many members may wish to speak; thus, a member may receive as little as one minute, or even thirty seconds, to make his/her point.

When debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. In many cases, the House votes by voice vote; the presiding officer puts the question, and members respond either "yea" (in favor of the motion) or "nay" (against the motion). The presiding officer then announces the result of the voice vote. A member may however challenge the presiding officer's assessment and "request the yeas and nays" or "request a recorded vote". The request may be granted only if it is seconded by one-fifth of the members present. In practice, however, members of congress second requests for recorded votes as a matter of courtesy. Some votes are always recorded, such as those on the annual budget.

The House may vote in three manners. First, the House may vote by electronic device; members use a personal identification card to record their votes at one of 46 voting stations in the chamber. Votes are usually held by electronic device. Secondly, the House may conduct a teller vote. Members hand in colored cards to indicate their votes: green for "yea," red for "nay," and orange for "present" (i.e., to abstain). Teller votes are normally held only when the computer system breaks down. Finally, the House may conduct a roll call vote. The Clerk reads the list of members of the House, each of whom announces their vote when their name is called. This procedure is reserved for formal votes (such as the election of a Speaker) because of the time consumed by calling over four hundred names.

Voting traditionally lasts for fifteen minutes, but it may be extended if the leadership needs to "whip" more members into alignment. The 2003 vote on the prescription drug benefit was open for three hours, from 3:00 to 6:00 a.m., to receive four additional votes, three of which were necessary to pass the legislation. The 2005 vote on the Central American Free Trade Agreement was open for one hour, from 11:00 p.m. to midnight. An October 2005 vote on facilitating refinery construction was kept open for forty minutes.

Presiding officers may vote like other members. They may not, however, vote twice in the event of a tie. Instead, motions are decided in the negative when ties arise.

Committees


The House uses committees and their subcommittees for a variety of purposes, including the review of bills and the oversight of the executive branch. The appointment of committee members is formally made by the whole House, but the choice of members is actually made by the political parties. Generally, each party honors the preferences of individual members, giving priority on the basis of seniority. Historically, membership on committees has been in rough proportion to the party's strength in the House as a whole, with two exceptions: on the Rules Committee, the majority party fills nine of the thirteen seats; and on the Ethics Committee, each party has an equal number of seats. However, when party control in the House is closely divided, extra seats on committees are sometimes allocated to the majority party. In the 109th Congress, for example, the Republicans controlled about 53% of the House as a whole, but had 54% of the Appropriations Committee members, 55% of the members on the Energy and Commerce Committee, 58% of the members on the Judiciary Committee, and 69% of the members on the Rules Committee).

The largest committee of the House is the Committee of the Whole
Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives)
In the United States House of Representatives, the Committee of the Whole, short for Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, is a parliamentary device in which the House of Representatives is considered one large congressional committee...

, which, as its name suggests, consists of all members of the House. The Committee meets in the House chamber; it may consider and amend bills, but may not grant them final passage. Generally, the debate procedures of the Committee of the Whole are more flexible than those of the House itself. One advantage of the Committee of the Whole
Committee of the Whole
A Committee of the Whole is a device in which a legislative body or other deliberative assembly is considered one large committee. All members of the legislative body are members of such a committee...

 is its ability to include otherwise non-voting members of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

.

Most committee work is performed by twenty standing committees, each of which has jurisdiction over a specific set of issues, such as Agriculture or Foreign Affairs. Each standing committee considers, amends, and reports bills that fall under its jurisdiction. Committees have extensive powers with regard to bills; they may block legislation from reaching the floor of the House. Standing committees also oversee the departments and agencies of the executive branch. In discharging their duties, standing committees have the power to hold hearings and to subpoena
Subpoena
A subpoena is a writ by a government agency, most often a court, that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence under a penalty for failure. There are two common types of subpoena:...

 witnesses and evidence.

The House also has one permanent committee that is not a standing committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and from time to time may establish committees that are temporary and advisory in nature, such as the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. This latter committee, created in the 110th Congress and reauthorized for the 111th, has no jurisdiction over legislation and must be chartered anew at the start of every Congress. The House also appoints members to serve on joint committees, which include members of the Senate and House. Some joint committees oversee independent government bodies; for instance, the Joint Committee on the Library oversees the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; for example, there exists a Joint Committee on Taxation
United States Congress Joint Committee on Taxation
The Joint Committee on Taxation is a Committee of the U.S. Congress established under the Internal Revenue Code at .-Structure:The Joint Committee is composed of ten Members: five from the Senate Finance Committee and five from the House Ways and Means Committee.The Joint Committee is chaired on a...

. Bills and nominees are not referred to joint committees. Hence, the power of joint committees is considerably lower than those of standing committees.

Each House committee and subcommittee is led by a chairman (always a member of the majority party). From 1910 to the 1970s, committee chairs were powerful. Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 in his classic study, suggested:
Power is nowhere concentrated; it is rather deliberately and of set policy scattered amongst many small chiefs. It is divided up, as it were, into forty-seven seigniories, in each of which a Standing Committee is the court-baron and its chairman lord-proprietor. These petty barons, some of them not a little powerful, but none of them within the reach of the full powers of rule, may at will exercise almost despotic sway within their own shires, and may sometimes threaten to convulse even the realm itself.


From 1910 to 1975 committee and subcommittee chairmanship was determined purely by seniority; congressmembers sometimes had to wait 30 years to get one, but their chairship was independent of party leadership. The rules were changed in 1975 to permit party caucus
Caucus
A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement, especially in the United States and Canada. As the use of the term has been expanded the exact definition has come to vary among political cultures.-Origin of the term:...

es to elect chairs, shifting power upward to the party leaders. In 1995, Republicans under Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is a U.S. Republican Party politician who served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995 and as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999....

 set a limit of three two-year terms for committee chairs. The Democrats who took over in 2007 have not decided whether to continue the Gingrich rules. The chair's powers are extensive; they control the committee/subcommittee agenda, and may prevent the committee from dealing with a bill. The senior member of the minority party is known as the Ranking Member. In some committees like Appropriations, partisan disputes are few.

Legislative functions


Most bills may be introduced in either House of Congress. However, the Constitution provides that "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." As a result, the Senate cannot initiate bills imposing taxes. Furthermore, the House of Representatives holds that the Senate cannot originate appropriation bill
Appropriation bill
An appropriation bill or running bill is a legislative motion which authorizes the government to spend money. It is a bill that sets money aside for specific spending...

s, or bills authorizing the expenditure of federal funds. Historically, the Senate has disputed the interpretation advocated by the House. However, when the Senate originates an appropriations bill, the House simply refuses to consider it, thereby settling the dispute in practice. The constitutional provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the British Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, in which only the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 may originate such measures.

Although it cannot originate revenue bills, the Senate retains the power to amend or reject them. As Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 wrote:
[T]he Senate's right to amend [revenue bills] has been allowed the widest possible scope. The upper house may add to them what it pleases; may go altogether outside of their original provisions and tack to them entirely new features of legislation, altering not only the amounts but even the objects of expenditure, and making out of the materials sent them by the popular chamber measures of an almost totally new character.


The approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives is required for a bill to become law. Both Houses must pass the same version of the bill; if there are differences, they may be resolved by a conference committee
Conference committee
A conference committee is a joint committee of a bicameral legislature, which is appointed by, and consists of, members of both chambers to resolve disagreements on a particular bill...

, which includes members of both bodies. For the stages through which bills pass in the Senate, see Act of Congress
Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....

.

The President may veto a bill passed by the House and Senate. If he does, the bill does not become law unless a two-thirds supermajority in each chamber votes to override the veto
Veto override
A veto override is an action by legislators and decision-makers to override an act of veto by someone with such powers - thus forcing through a new decision. The power to override a veto varies greatly in tandem with the veto power itself. The U.S constitution gives a 2/3 majority Congress the...

.

Checks and balances


The Constitution provides that the Senate's "advice and consent
Advice and consent
Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts, describing a situation in which the executive branch of a government enacts something previously approved of by the legislative branch.-General:The expression is...

" is necessary for the President to make appointments and to ratify treaties, while the House must confirm the nomination of a new Vice President under the 25th Amendment
Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

. Thus, with its potential to frustrate Presidential appointments, the Senate is more powerful than the House.

The Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to impeach
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 federal officials for "Treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, Bribery
Bribery
Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift giving that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or...

, or other high Crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

s and Misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

s" and empowers the Senate to try such impeachments. The House may approve "articles of impeachment" by a simple majority vote; however, a two-thirds vote is required for conviction in the Senate. A convicted official is automatically removed from office; in addition, the Senate may stipulate that the defendant be banned from holding future office. No further punishment is permitted during the impeachment proceedings; however, the party may face criminal penalties in a normal court of law.

In the history of the United States, the House of Representatives has impeached sixteen officials, of whom seven were convicted. (Another, Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, resigned after the House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment
Articles of impeachment
The articles of impeachment are the set of charges drafted against a public official to initiate the impeachment process. The articles of impeachment do not result in the removal of the official, but instead require the enacting body to take further action, such as bringing the articles to a vote...

 but before a formal impeachment vote by the full House.) Only two Presidents of the United States have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 in 1868 and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in 1998. Both trials ended in acquittal; in Johnson's case, the Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction.

Under the Twelfth Amendment
Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President. It replaced Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which provided the original procedure by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in...

, the House has the power to elect the President if no presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

. The Twelfth Amendment requires the House to choose from the three candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. The Constitution provides that "the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote." Electoral College deadlocks are rare; in the history of the United States, the House has only had to break a deadlock twice. In 1800, it elected Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 over Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr, Jr. was an important political figure in the early history of the United States of America. After serving as a Continental Army officer in the Revolutionary War, Burr became a successful lawyer and politician...

; in 1824, it elected John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 over Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and William H. Crawford
William H. Crawford
William Harris Crawford was an American politician and judge during the early 19th century. He served as United States Secretary of War from 1815 to 1816 and United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1816 to 1825, and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824.-Political...

. The Senate elects the Vice President if the Electoral College deadlocks.

Latest election results and current party standings



2010 elections

Affiliation Members Delegates
/ Resident
Commissioner
(non-voting)
Number of
state majorities
Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

242 0 33
Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

193 6 16
  Vacancy 0 0
Total 435 6
Majority 49

Current standings

Affiliation Members Delegates
/ Resident
Commissioner
(non-voting)
Number of
state majorities
Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

242 0 33
Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

192 6 16
  Vacancy 1 0
Total 435 6
Majority 50

See also

  • Self-executing rule
    Self-executing rule
    The self-executing rule, also known as "deem and pass", is procedural measure used by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve legislation. If the full House votes to approve a legislative rule that contains such a provision, the House then deems a second bill as also approved without requiring...

  • Standing Rules of the United States House of Representatives
    Standing Rules of the United States House of Representatives
    The Rules of the House of Representatives or House Rules are the rules of order adopted by the United States House of Representatives that govern its procedure...

  • Suspension of the rules in the United States Congress
  • United States Presidents and control of Congress
    United States presidents and control of congress
    In United States history, the degree to which the President's political party has control over the House of Representatives and Senate often determines his or her political strength - such as the ability to pass sponsored legislation, ratify treaties, and have Cabinet members and judges approved...


Membership lists


Before 1945


  • David W. Brady and Mathew D. McCubbins. Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress: New Perspectives on the History of Congress (2002)
  • Brady, David W. Congressional Voting in a Partisan Era: A Study of the McKinley Houses and a Comparison to the Modern House of Representatives. U. Pr. of Kansas, 1973. 273 pp.
  • Cooper, Joseph. The Origins of the Standing Committees and the Development of the Modern House. Rice U. Press, 1970. 167 pp.
  • Linda Grant de Pauw, Charlene Bangs Bickford, and Kenneth R. Bowling, eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791 (1992–2006) 14 volumes of primary documents
  • Ronald L. Hatzenbuehler, "Party Unity and the Decision for War in the House of Representatives in 1812," William and Mary Quarterly 29 (1972): 367–90;
  • Henig, Gerald S. Henry Winter Davis: Antebellum and Civil War Congressman from Maryland. 1973. 332 pp. Radical leader in Civil War era
  • Klingman, Peter D. Josiah Walls: Florida's Black Congressman of Reconstruction. U. Press of Florida, 1976. 157 pp.
  • Lowitt, Richard. George W. Norris: The Making of a Progressive, 1861-1912 Vol. 1. Syracuse U. Press, 1963. leader of Republican insurgents in 1910
  • Margulies, Herbert F. Reconciliation and Revival: James R. Mann and the House Republicans in the Wilson Era. Greenwood, 1996. 242 pp.
  • Patterson, James. Congressional Conservatism and the New Deal: The Growth of the Conservative Coalition in Congress, 1933-39 (1967)
  • Robert V. Remini. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (1992) . Speaker for most of 1811–1825
  • Strahan, Randall; Moscardelli, Vincent G.; Haspel, Moshe; and Wike, Richard S. "The Clay Speakership Revisited" Polity 2000 32(4): 561–593. ISSN 0032-3497 uses roll call analysis
  • Stewart, Charles H., III. Budget Reform Politics: The Design of the Appropriations Process in the House of Representatives, 1865-1921. Cambridge U. Press, 1989. 254 pp.
  • Story, Joseph
    Joseph Story
    Joseph Story was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered today for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad, along with his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first...

    . (1891). Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. (2 vols). Boston: Brown & Little.
  • Trefousse, Hans L. Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian (1997) majority leader in 1860s
  • Waller, Robert A. Rainey of Illinois: A Political Biography, 1903-34. U. of Illinois Press, 1977. 260 pp. Democratic Speaker 1932–34
  • Wilson, Woodrow
    Woodrow Wilson
    Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

    . (1885). Congressional Government. New York: Houghton Mifflin.


Since 1945


  • Abramowitz, Alan I. and Kyle L. Saunders. 1998. Ideological Realignment in the US Electorate. Journal of Politics 60(3):634–652.
  • Adler, E. Scott. Why Congressional Reforms Fail: Reelection and the House Committee System. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • Albert, Carl and Goble, Danney. Little Giant: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert. U. of Oklahoma Press, 1990. 388 pp. Speaker in 1970s
  • Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 2006: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2005). Published every two years since 1975; enormous detail on every state and district and member.
  • Barry, John M. The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright. A True Story of Washington. Viking, 1989. 768 pp. Speaker in 1980s
  • Berard, Stanley P. Southern Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. U. of Oklahoma Press, 2001. 250 pp.
  • Berman, Daniel M. (1964). In Congress Assembled: The Legislative Process in the National Government. London: The Macmillan Company.
  • "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005." Washington: Government Printing Office, 2005. Prepared by the Office of the Clerk, Office of History and Preservation, United States House of Representatives. Contains biographical entries for every Member of Congress. Also online at Biographical Directory.
  • Congressional Quarterly Congress and the Nation: 2001-2004: A Review of Government and Politics: 107th and 108th Congresses (2005); massive, highly detailed summary of Congressional activity, and major executive and judicial decisions; based on Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and the annual CQ almanac.
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1997-2001 (2002)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1993-1996 (1998)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1989-1992 (1993)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1985-1988 (1989)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1981-1984 (1985)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1977-1980 (1981)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1973-1976 (1977)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1969-1972 (1973)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1965-1968 (1969)
    • Congressional Quarterly, Congress and the Nation: 1945-1964 (1965), the first of the series
  • Congressional Quarterly
    Congressional Quarterly
    Congressional Quarterly, Inc., or CQ, is a privately owned publishing company that produces a number of publications reporting primarily on the United States Congress...

    's Guide to Congress
    , 5th ed. (2000). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.
  • Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D. Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House. U. of California Press, 1993. 324 pp.
  • Currie, James T. The United States House of Representatives. Krieger, 1988. 239 pp short survey
  • DeGregorio, Christine A. Networks of Champions: Leadership, Access, and Advocacy in the U.S. House of Representatives. U. of Michigan Press, 1997. 185 pp.
  • Dierenfield, Bruce J. Keeper of the Rules: Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia U. Press of Virginia, 1987. 306 pp. leader of Conservative coalition
    Conservative coalition
    In the United States, the conservative coalition was an unofficial Congressional coalition bringing together the conservative majority of the Republican Party and the conservative, mostly Southern, wing of the Democratic Party...

     1940–66
  • Farrell, John A. Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century Little, Brown, 2001. 776 pp. Democratic Speaker in 1980s
  • Gertzog, Irwin J. Congressional Women: Their Recruitment, Treatment, and Behavior Praeger, 1984. 291 pp.
  • Hardeman, D. B. and Bacon, Donald C. Rayburn: A Biography. Texas Monthly Press, 1987. 554 pp.
  • Hechler, Ken. Toward the Endless Frontier: History of the Committee on Science and Technology, 1959-79. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1980. 1073 pp.
  • Hibbing, John R. Congressional Careers: Contours of Life in the U.S. House of Representatives. U. of North Carolina Press, 1991. 213 pp.
  • Jacobs, John. A Rage for Justice: The Passion and Politics of Phillip Burton. U. of California Press., 1995. 578 pp. leader of liberal Democrats in 1970s
  • Jacobson, Gary C. The Electoral Origins of Divided Government: Competition in U.S. House Elections, 1946-1988. Westview, 1990. 152 pp.
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick and McCubbins, Mathew D. The Logic of Delegation: Congressional Parties and the Appropriations Process. U. of Chicago Press, 1991. 286 pp.
  • Merriner, James L. Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America. Southern Illinois U. Pr., 1999. 333 pp.
  • Price, David E. The Congressional Experience: A View from the Hill. Westview, 1992. 194 pp. Political scientist who served in House.
  • Rohde, David W. Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House. U. of Chicago Press, 1991. 232 pp.
  • Rohde, David W. and Kenneth A. Shepsle, "Leaders and Followers in the House of Representatives: Reflections on Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government," Congress & the Presidency 14 (1987): 111–33
  • Schooley, C. Herschel. Missouri's Cannon in the House. Marceline, Mo.: Walsworth, 1977. 282 pp. Chaired Appropriations in 1960s
  • Schickler, Eric. Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress (2001)
  • Shelley II, Mack C. The Permanent Majority: The Conservative Coalition in the United States Congress (1983)
  • Sinclair, Barbara. Legislators, Leaders, and Lawmaking: The U.S. House of Representatives in the Postreform Era. Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1995. 329 pp.
  • Sinclair, Barbara. Congressional Realignment, 1925-1978. U. of Texas Press, 1982. 201 pp.
  • Steinberg, Alfred. Sam Rayburn: A Biography. Hawthorn, 1975. 391 pp. popular biography
  • Strahan, Randall. New Ways and Means: Reform and Change in a Congressional Committee. U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 218 pp.
  • VanBeek, Stephen D. Post-Passage Politics: Bicameral Resolution in Congress. U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1995. 227 pp.
  • Zelizer, Julian E. On Capitol Hill : The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (2006)


External links