The presiding officer, the Speaker of the House enforces the rules of the House, and may warn members who deviate from them. The Speaker uses a gavel to maintain order. In one of its first resolutions, the U. House of Representatives established the Office of the Sergeant at Arms. 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. 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 to do business. House rules prevent a member from making a point of order that a quorum is not present unless a question is being voted on. The presiding officer does 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 speak only if called upon by the presiding officer. The presiding officer decides which members to recognize, and can therefore control the course of debate.
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 only by name, but also by state, using forms such as "the gentleman from Virginia", "the distinguished gentlewoman from California", or "my distinguished friend from Alabama".
There are 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.
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. 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.
When debate concludes, the motion in question is put to a vote. 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. A recorded vote may be taken in one of three different ways. Members use a personal identification card to record their votes at 46 voting stations in the chamber. Votes are usually held in this way. A second mode of recorded vote is by teller.
Members hand in colored cards to indicate their votes: Teller votes are normally held only when electronic voting 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 only used rarely such as for the election of a Speaker because of the time consumed by calling over four hundred names.
Voting traditionally lasts for, at most, fifteen minutes, but it may be extended if the leadership needs to "whip" more members into alignment. Presiding officers may vote like other members.
They may not, however, vote twice in the event of a tie; rather, a tie vote defeats the motion. 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: The largest committee of the House is the Committee of the Whole , 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 is its ability to include otherwise non-voting members of Congress. 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 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 th Congress and reauthorized for the th, 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.
Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; for example, there exists a Joint Committee on Taxation. 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 to the s, committee chairs were powerful.
Woodrow Wilson 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 to 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 to permit party caucuses to elect chairmen, shifting power upward to the party leaders.
In , Republicans under Newt Gingrich set a limit of three two-year terms for committee chairs. The senior member of the minority party is known as the Ranking Member. In some committees like Appropriations, partisan disputes are few.
Most bills may be introduced in either House of Congress. As a result of the Origination Clause , the Senate cannot initiate bills imposing taxes.
This provision barring the Senate from introducing revenue bills is based on the practice of the British Parliament , in which only the House of Commons may originate such measures. Furthermore, congressional tradition holds that the House of Representatives originates appropriation bills. Although it cannot originate revenue bills, the Senate retains the power to amend or reject them. Woodrow Wilson wrote the following about appropriations bills: 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 , which includes members of both bodies. For the stages through which bills pass in the Senate, see Act of Congress. The President may veto a bill passed by the House and Senate. If he does, the bill does not become law unless each House, by a two-thirds vote, votes to override the veto.
The Constitution provides that the Senate's " advice and consent " is necessary for the President to make appointments and to ratify treaties. 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 federal officials for " Treason , Bribery , or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors " 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 and may be disqualified from holding future office under the United States.
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 , resigned after the House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment but before a formal impeachment vote by the full House.
Only two Presidents of the United States have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in and Bill Clinton in 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 , the House has the power to elect the President if no presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College.
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. In the history of the United States, the House has only had to choose a President twice.
If no vice-presidential candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the Senate elects the Vice President from the two candidates with the highest numbers of electoral votes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Lower house of the United States Congress. Paul Ryan R Since October 29, Nancy Pelosi D Since January 3, Steve Scalise R Since August 1, Steny Hoyer D Since January 3, Constitution of the United States Law Taxation.
Presidential elections Midterm elections Off-year elections. Democratic Republican Third parties. History of the United States House of Representatives. Current members by seniority by age non-voting.
Closed session list Saxbe fix. Origination Clause Quorum call. Self-executing rule Rules suspension. General ticket Plural district. House office buildings Cannon Ford Longworth Rayburn.
United States congressional apportionment. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. March Learn how and when to remove this template message.
Procedures of the United States House of Representatives. The Reapportionment Act of capped the size of the House at Accessed November 23, Archived from the original on November 1, Retrieved September 17, Accessed February 19, The Virginia Plan received support from states with large populations such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. A number of smaller states, however, proposed the 'New Jersey Plan,' drafted by William Paterson, which retained the essential features of the original Articles: After two more months of intense debates and revisions, the delegates produced the document we now know as the Constitution, which expanded the power of the central government while protecting the prerogatives of the states.
Retrieved July 2, On April 19, , the House of Representatives passed the DC House Voting Rights Act of , a bill "to provide for the treatment of the District of Columbia as a Congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives, and for other purposes" by a vote of — That bill proposes to increase the House membership by two, making members, by converting the District of Columbia delegate into a member, and until the census grant one membership to Utah , which is the state next in line to receive an additional district based on its population after the Census.
The bill was under consideration in the U. Senate during the session. Retrieved April 27, Partisan Gerrymandering and the State of Texas". University of Richmond Law Review.
Archived from the original on October 9, Retrieved January 26, McCormack , a U. Just a Thing of the Past? University of Virginia Center for Politics. Retrieved November 2, Archived from the original PDF on July 7, Retrieved August 23, Retrieved February 3, Retrieved December 24, CRS Report for Congress. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved December 2, Retrieved November 22, Retrieved September 21, History and Usage PDF.
Retrieved October 24, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. Office of the Historian. Retrieved January 12, Architect of the Capitol. The Congress of the United States: A Student Companion 3 ed. New York, New York: Retrieved January 10, Retrieved November 21, Digital Media Law Project. Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Roadblocks at the Final Legislative Stages". Republican Committee on Rules.
Archived from the original on April 1, How do Representatives introduce bills? Office of the Clerk. The Mace and the Gavel: Symbols of Government in America, Volume 87, Part 4. Cornell University Law School. How do Representatives obtain permission to speak? House of Representatives The House Floor".
Archived from the original on July 2, Forms and Requirements PDF. Retrieved 25 July Archived from the original on September 26, America at Odds, Alternate Edition 6 ed. A Study in American Politics , Boston: A Study in American Politics , pp.
The United States House of Representatives. The House of Representatives. The Office in Historical Perspective 2nd ed. Johns Hopkins University Press. Social Bases of Institutional Change. The History of the House of Representatives. Majority Leadership in the U. The Building of Democracy.
Ideological Realignment in the US Electorate. Why Congressional Reforms Fail: Reelection and the House Committee System. Albert, Carl; Goble, Danney The Almanac of American Politics The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright.
A True Story of Washington. Southern Democrats in the U. The Legislative Process in the National Government. Contains biographical entries for every Member of Congress.
Also online at Biographical Directory. Congressional Voting in a Partisan Era: Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress: New Perspectives on the History of Congress. Congressional Quarterly , 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: A Review of Government and Politics: Party Government in the House.
Leadership, Access, and Advocacy in the U. Keeper of the Rules: Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. Their Recruitment, Treatment, and Behavior. William and Mary Quarterly. Members of the U. House of Representatives each represent a portion of their state known as a Congressional District, which averages , people.
Senators however, represent the entire state. How do the House and Senate chambers differ? In the House of Representatives, the majority party holds significant power to draft chamber rules and schedule bills to reach the floor for debate and voting. In most cases, House rules will limit debate so that important legislation can be passed during one legislative business day.
In the Senate however, the majority has the power to schedule when various bills come to the floor for voting but a single Senator can slow legislation from coming to the floor for a vote.
Since debate in the Senate is not concluded until 60 senators vote for a cloture motion to approve a bill for consideration, the majority must also coordinate with the minority part to set the rules for debate on legislation. Under this system, legislation can be debated for one or two weeks on the Senate floor alone. Why does Congress use the committee system?
Congress deals with a broad variety of different policy issues and it is more efficient to have work done at the committee level than on the House or Senate floor. In addition, this system allows members to gain expertise in specific issue areas they are interested in. Throughout history, committees have been created to address particular issues before Congress. The House has 23 committees while the Senate has a total of 20 committees. How does a bill become a law? Passing legislation into law is a complicated and lengthy process between the House and Senate before the bill is presented before the President to be signed into law.
For a thorough explanation of the legislation process, please see the How a Bill Becomes a Law section on the House website.
Do Members of Congress pay into the social security system? Since January 1, , all Members of Congress participate in the Social Security system and are required to pay Social Security taxes. What kind of retirement plan do Members of Congress have? What kind of health care do Members of Congress receive?
The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, While senators are members of Congress, the terms congressman and congresswoman are not generally used by them. Pension. All members of Congress .
Sep 10, · There is no term limit for a congressman, he may contine to hold office for as long as he can keep getting re-elected. Carl Hayden was in congress from to (57 yea rs in total: 41 as a Senator and 16 a Representative) he died while in his 15th term of office.
Defeated in Congress and overridden by the Supreme Court, the federal term limit uprising was brought to a halt. The term limits intended simultaneously to reform state legislatures (as distinguished from the federal congressional delegations) remain in force, however, in fifteen states. Congressman definition is - a member of a congress; especially: a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. How to use congressman in a sentence. a member of a congress; especially: a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Oftentimes, people have questions about how Congress works. To help answer those questions, I have put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the U.S. Congress. If your question is not answered here, How long do members of Congress’ terms . Term limits for members of Congress will change the prevailing Beltway power structure, realign incentives for members of Congress and bring accountability to Washington, DC. Americans of all political background overwhelmingly support term limits.