[House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House]
[Chapter 10. Chamber, Rooms, and Galleries]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


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                CHAPTER 10 - CHAMBER, ROOMS, AND GALLERIES

                              HOUSE PRACTICE

  Sec. 1. In General; Use of the Hall
  Sec. 2. Admission to the Floor
  Sec. 3. Electronic Devices; Signals, Bells, and Clocks
  Sec. 4. Galleries and Corridors
  Sec. 5. Photographs; Radio and Television Coverage
        Research References
          5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 7270-7311
          8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 3632, 3636-3643
          Deschler Ch 4; Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 85
          Manual Sec. Sec. 677-681, 684

  Sec. 1 . In General; Use of the Hall

      The Hall of the House and unappropriated rooms in the House (rooms 
  not specifically assigned by action of the House) are under the 
  general control of the Speaker. Rule I clause 3; Manual Sec. 623. 
  Control of the appropriated rooms in the House wing is exercised by 
  the House itself. 5 Hinds Sec. Sec. 7273-7279. Resolutions assigning a 
  room to a committee have been considered as privileged. 5 Hinds 
  Sec. 7273.
      Under rule IV clause 1, the Hall may be used only for (1) the 
  legislative business of the House; (2) caucus meetings of its Members, 
  including joint party caucuses; (3) ceremonies in which the House 
  votes to participate; and (4) classified briefings of Members, if 
  authorized by the Speaker, during recesses declared under rule I 
  clause 12. Manual Sec. Sec. 623, 677. In rare instances the House has 
  permitted the Hall to be used for ceremonial or special occasions. 8 
  Cannon Sec. 3632; Deschler Ch 4 Sec. Sec. 3.1, 3.4. However, a House 
  and Senate ceremony of religious reconciliation to be conducted in the 
  Hall of the House during a recess requires adoption by both Houses of 
  a concurrent resolution. See, e.g., 107-1, H. Con. Res. 184, Oct. 23, 
  2001, p ____ (never adopted by the Senate). Members may not entertain 
  guests in the Hall. Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 3.2.
      Disorderly or disruptive acts in the Capitol are unlawful, and 
  unauthorized demonstrations are prohibited by law. 40 USC 
  Sec. 193f(b)(4). The unauthorized presence of persons on the floor of 
  either House or in the gallery

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  of either House is prohibited. 40 USC Sec. 193f(b)(1), (2). Disorder 
  in the House, see Consideration and Debate.


  Sec. 2 . Admission to the Floor

                                 Generally

      Rule IV clause 2 enumerates those persons entitled to be admitted 
  to the floor or rooms leading thereto. Manual Sec. Sec. 678-681. Among 
  those who may be admitted to the Hall are Members and Members-elect of 
  Congress, the President and Vice President, Judges of the Supreme 
  Court, governors of States, heads of departments, foreign ministers, 
  contestants in election cases during the pendency of their cases on 
  the floor, one attorney for a Member-respondent during consideration 
  of a disciplinary resolution reported from the Committee on Standards 
  of Official Conduct, and other named officials. Manual Sec. 678. The 
  term ``heads of departments'' has been construed to mean members of 
  the President's Cabinet, and the term ``foreign ministers'' has been 
  construed to mean the representatives of foreign governments duly 
  accredited to the United States, and not necessarily those with the 
  title of ``minister'' in their own parliaments. 5 Hinds Sec. 7283. The 
  term ``contestants in election cases'' has been construed to include 
  challengers in an election contest, even though the challenger was not 
  a candidate in the election in which the sitting Member was reelected. 
  Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 4.5.
      It is not in order to refer to persons temporarily on the floor of 
  the House as guests of the House, such as Members' children, other 
  children, or Senators exercising floor privileges. Manual Sec. 678. 
  Although Senators have floor privileges, they are not entitled to 
  address the House. Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 4.8.
      The rule is strictly enforced during regular meetings. However, 
  the rule is less strictly enforced on ceremonial occasions (5 Hinds 
  Sec. 7290) or when the House is in recess during a joint meeting with 
  the Senate (Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 4). The Speaker sometimes announces 
  guidelines for enforcement during a recess. During a regular meeting, 
  a point of order will lie to object to the presence of any 
  unauthorized persons. 92-2, June 21, 1972, p 21704. Under rule IV 
  clause 1, motions or unanimous-consent requests to suspend the rule 
  may not be entertained by the Speaker or by the Chairman of the 
  Committee of the Whole. 5 Hinds Sec. 7285.
      The Speaker has the authority to exclude an individual who abuses 
  the privileges of the floor. 5 Hinds Sec. 7288. An alleged abuse of 
  the privilege of the floor may be made the subject of an inquiry by a 
  special committee. 5 Hinds Sec. 7287.

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                              Former Members

      A former Member must observe the rules of proper decorum while on 
  the floor, and the Chair may direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to assist the 
  Chair in maintaining such decorum. Manual Sec. 622. The question of 
  banning a former Member engaged in indecorous behavior on the floor 
  gives rise to a question of privileges of the House. Manual Sec. 680. 
  A former Member may not manifest approval or disapproval of the 
  proceedings. 8 Cannon Sec.  3635. For more information on floor 
  privileges of former Members, see Manual Sec. 680.
      Although former Members, officers, and certain former employees 
  have access to the floor under rule IV clause 2, such an individual is 
  not entitled to the privileges of the floor, or rooms leading thereto, 
  if he (1) has a direct personal or pecuniary interest in legislation 
  under consideration in the House or reported by any committee or (2) 
  represents any party or organization for the purpose of influencing 
  the disposition of legislation pending before the House or reported by 
  a committee or under consideration in a committee. Manual Sec. 680. 
  For regulations issued by the Speaker under this rule, see 95-1, Jan. 
  6, 1977, p 321; 95-2, June 7, 1978, p 16625; 103-2, June 9, 1994, p 
  12387; 104-1, May 24, 1995, p 14300; 104-2, Aug. 1, 1996, p 21031.

                          Staff; Committee Clerks

      Rule IV clause 2(a)(7) permits on the floor staff of a committee 
  when business from their committee is under consideration and no more 
  than one person from the staff of a Member when that Member has an 
  amendment under consideration. This rule has been interpreted by the 
  Speaker to allow the presence on the floor of four professional staff 
  members and one clerk from a committee during consideration of that 
  committee's business and to require that such individuals remain 
  unobtrusively by the committee tables. Manual Sec. 678. Rule IV clause 
  2(a)(7) also permits on the floor staff of the respective party 
  leaderships when so assigned with the approval of the Speaker. The 
  privileges of the floor do not extend to departmental employees 
  assisting committees in the preparation of bills. 6 Cannon Sec. 579. 
  Where several committees are involved with a pending measure, the rule 
  permits authorized majority and minority staff (up to five persons) 
  from each committee. 97-1, June 26, 1981, p 14574. Floor clerks other 
  than those employed by a committee involved in the bill under 
  consideration are not entitled to the floor. Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 4. The 
  Speaker has announced his intention to strictly enforce the rule to 
  prevent a proliferation of staff on the floor and has required 
  committee staff to display staff badges when on the floor. Manual 
  Sec. 678. Under rule IV clause 5, and regulations promulgated by the

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  Speaker thereunder, staff on the floor are not permitted to pass out 
  literature or otherwise attempt to influence Members in their votes or 
  to applaud during debate. Manual Sec. 681.

                              Secret Sessions

      Before a secret session of the House commences, the Speaker may 
  direct that the Chamber be cleared of all persons except Members and 
  those officers and employees, specified by the Speaker, whose 
  attendance on the floor is essential to the functioning of the 
  session. Rule XVII clause 9; Manual Sec. 969; Deschler-Brown Ch 29 
  Sec. 85. A point of order will not lie against the presence in the 
  Chamber of those persons whose attendance on the floor is permitted by 
  the Speaker's directive. Deschler-Brown Ch 29 Sec. 85.15; see 
  Consideration and Debate. Secret classified briefings of Members may 
  be permitted during recesses of the House declared by the Speaker 
  under rule I clause 12. Under rule XXIII clause 13, a Member, officer, 
  or employee must execute an oath of secrecy before having access to 
  classified material. Manual Sec. 1095.


  Sec. 3 . Electronic Devices; Signals, Bells, and Clocks

      Various electronic devices and computer services are used by the 
  House to expedite quorum calls and votes and for other purposes. 
  Manual Sec. Sec. 1012-1016. For example, a legislative bell and light 
  system alerts Members to quorum calls, the taking of certain votes, 
  and other occurrences on the floor. Manual Sec. Sec. 1014, 1016. 
  Changes in the system are announced by the Speaker from time to time. 
  The failure of the signal bells to announce a vote does not warrant 
  repetition of the record vote, nor does such a failure permit a Member 
  to be recorded following the conclusion of the call. Manual Sec. 1016; 
  8 Cannon Sec. Sec. 3153, 3155, 3157; see also Voting.
      The use of a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor 
  of the House is prohibited under rule XVII clause 5, and the Chair has 
  admonished Members to disable wireless telephones on entering the 
  Chamber. The Chair has also announced that the use of wireless 
  telephones is not permitted in the gallery. Manual Sec. 962.
      Microphones have been placed on the floor of the House for the use 
  of Members. A Member making an appropriate request should use one of 
  the floor microphones so that all Members may hear the request. 94-1, 
  Oct. 28, 1975, p 34027. A Member may speak at any microphone on the 
  floor. Manual Sec. 364. Rule I clause 2 directs the Speaker to 
  preserve order and decorum in the House, and he is authorized to order 
  the microphones turned off if they are being utilized by a Member who 
  has not been properly recognized and who is disorderly. Deschler-Brown 
  Ch 29 Sec. 11.19.

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      Where there is a discrepancy in the time shown on the clocks in 
  the House Chamber, the Chair relies on the clock on the north wall in 
  deciding when time has expired. Deschler-Brown Ch 28 Sec. 74.2.


  Sec. 4 . Galleries and Corridors

      Under rule I clause 3, control over the corridors leading to the 
  House Chamber is vested in the Speaker. Manual Sec. Sec. 622, 623. The 
  Speaker may order the corridors cleared during quorum calls and the 
  taking of votes to ensure unimpeded access to the Chamber. Manual 
  Sec. 623. Under rule I clause 2, the Speaker preserves order and 
  decorum in the galleries, and in the event of a disturbance, he may 
  order the galleries cleared. Manual Sec. 622. The Chairman of the 
  Committee of the Whole may exercise similar power in preserving order 
  in the galleries. Manual Sec. 970.
      Guests in the House gallery must maintain order and refrain from 
  manifestations of approval or disapproval of proceedings on the floor, 
  and admonitions may be expressed either by the Speaker or by the 
  Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 5.6. Under 
  rule XVII clause 7, it also is out of order to refer to visitors in 
  the galleries, even with permission to proceed out of order; and the 
  Speaker, on his own initiative, may declare such remarks to be out of 
  order. Deschler Ch 4 Sec. Sec. 5.3, 5.4.


  Sec. 5 . Photographs; Radio and Television Coverage

                                Photographs

      Under the practice of the House, permission must be obtained 
  before photographs may be taken inside the House Chamber. Rules 
  regarding the taking of such pictures may be enforced by the Speaker. 
  Deschler Ch 4 Sec. 3.5 (note). Official photographs of the House while 
  in session may be permitted by resolution. See, e.g., 107-2, June 5, 
  2002, p ____.

                    Media Coverage of Floor Proceedings

      Prior to the 95th Congress, the rules and precedents of the House 
  did not permit public radio and television broadcasts of House 
  proceedings. In 1977, the House adopted a privileged resolution 
  reported from the Committee on Rules to provide a system of closed-
  circuit viewing of House proceedings and for the orderly development 
  of a broadcasting system. Under rule V, the Speaker directs the audio 
  and visual broadcasting and recording of the proceedings of the House, 
  including periods of voting. Under this rule, broadcasts are made over 
  closed-circuit television in House offices and have been made 
  available to the news media and to cable television systems.

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   Broadcasts made available under the rule may not be used for 
  political or commercial purposes. Manual Sec. 684.
      In 1984, a question arose as to the authority of the Speaker to 
  require wide-angle television coverage of the House Chamber during 
  special-order speeches. In that instance, the Speaker's directive that 
  television cameras covering special-order speeches of the House at the 
  completion of legislative business include periodic wide-angle 
  coverage of the entire House Chamber was held to be consistent with 
  the authority conferred upon the Speaker under rule V. Manual 
  Sec. 684. Beginning in the 103d Congress, the Speaker has followed a 
  policy under which television cameras would not ``pan'' the Chamber 
  during morning hour or special-order speeches. However, the Speaker 
  directed that a caption run at the bottom of the screen to show that 
  legislative business has been completed for the day. Manual Sec. 684.
      Although rule V clause 2 requires complete and unedited broadcast 
  coverage of the proceedings of the House, it does not require in-House 
  microphone amplification of disorderly conduct by a Member following 
  expiration of his recognition for debate. Deschler-Brown Ch 29 
  Sec. 11.19.