[Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and the Rules of the House of Representatives, 114th Congress]
[House Document 113-181]
[Jeffersons Manual of ParliamentaryPractice]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]
ceedings to the House. 4 inst., 11, 12; Scob., 9; 1 Grey, 122.
Before the 62d Congress, standing as well as select committees and
their chairs were appointed by the Speaker, but under the present form
of rule X, adopted in 1911, continued as a part of the Legislative
Reorganization Act of 1946, and revised under the Committee Reform
Amendments of 1974 (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct. 8, 1974, p. 34470),
standing committees and their respective chairs are elected by the House
(IV, 4448; VIII, 2178). Owing to their number and size, committees are
not usually elected immediately, but resolutions providing for such
elections are presented by the majority and minority parties pursuant to
clause 5 of rule X as soon as they are able to perfect the lists. A
committee may order its report to be made by the chair, or by some other
member (IV, 4669), even by a member of the minority party (IV, 4672,
4673), or by a Delegate (July 1, 1958, p. 12871 (Burns of Hawaii)); and
the chair sometimes submits a report in which the chair has not
concurred (IV, 4670). Clause 2 of rule XIII requires that a report that
has been approved by the committee must be filed with the House within
seven calendar days after a written request from a majority of the
committee is submitted to the committee clerk.
Sec. 317. Appointment of standing committees; and
designation and duties of chairs thereof.
Standing committees, as of Privileges
and Elections, &c., are usually appointed at the first meeting, to
continue through the session. The person first named is generally
permitted to act as chairman. But this is a matter of courtesy; every
committee having a right to elect their own chairman, who presides over
them, puts questions, and reports their pro
Sec. 318. Parliamentary law as to debate in standing and
At these committees the members are to speak standing,
and not sitting; though there is reason to conjecture it was formerly
otherwise. D'Ewes, 630, col. 1; 4 Parl. Hist., 440; 2 Hats., 77.
one occasion a Member was permitted to refer to the unreported executive
session proceedings of a subcommittee to justify his point of order that
a resolution providing for a select committee to inquire into action of
the subcommittee was not privileged (June 30, 1958, p. 12690). In one
case the House authorized the clerk of a committee to disclose by
deposition its proceedings (III, 2604).
In the House it is entirely within rule and usage for a committee to
conduct its proceedings in secret (III, 1694, 1732; IV, 4558-4564; see
also clause 2(g) of rule XI), and the House may not abrogate the secrecy
of a committee's proceedings except by suspending the rule (IV, 4565).
The House has no information concerning the proceedings of a committee
not officially reported by the committee (VII, 1015) and it is not in
order in debate to refer to executive session proceedings of a committee
that have not formally been reported to the House (V, 5080-5083; VIII,
2269, 2485, 2493; June 24, 1958, pp. 12120, 12122; Apr. 5, 1967, p.
8411). However, a complaint that certain remarks that might be uttered
in debate would improperly disclose executive-session material of a
committee is not cognizable as a point of order in the House if the
Chair is not aware of the executive-session status of the information
(Nov. 5, 1997, p. 24648). On
Sec. 319. Secrecy of committee procedure.
are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the
House. Rushw., part 3, vol. 2, 74; 3 Grey, 401; Scob., 39.* * *
Sec. 320. Reception of petitions by committees.
Under clause 2 of rule XI, all hearings and business meetings
conducted by standing committees shall be open to the public, except
when a committee, in open session, by record vote, with a majority
present, determines to close the meeting or hearing for that day for the
reasons stated in that clause. In addition, clause 2(k) of rule XI
establishes a procedure for closing a hearing because of defamatory,
degrading, or incriminating testimony. Clause 11(d) of rule X
establishes special rules governing the closing of hearings of the
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
* * * Nor
can they receive a petition but through the House. 9 Grey, 412.
a case wherein an inquiry had incidentally involved a Member, evidently
considered the parliamentary law as applicable, because it admitted as
of privilege and agreed to a resolution directing the committee to
report the charges (III, 1843). And in cases wherein testimony taken
before a joint committee incidentally impeached the official characters
of a Member and a Senator, the facts in each case were reported to the
House interested (III, 1854). A select committee, appointed to report
upon the right of a Member-elect to be sworn (H. Res. 1, 90th Cong., pp.
14-27, Jan. 10, 1967), invited him to appear, to testify, and permitted
him to be accompanied by counsel (see H. Rept. 90-27).
Sec. 321. Parliamentary law of procedure when a committee
inquiry involves a Member.
When a committee is charged with an inquiry, if
a Member prove to be involved, they can not proceed against him but must
make a special report to the House; whereupon the Member is heard in his
place, or at the bar, or a special authority is given to the committee
to inquire concerning him. 9 Grey, 523.
Sec. 322. Practice of House when a committee inquiry
involves a Member.
Although the authority of this principle has not been
questioned by the House, there have in special instances been deviations
from it. Thus, in 1832, when a Member had been slain in a duel, and the
fact was notorious that all the principals and seconds were Members of
the House, the committee, charged only with investigating the causes and
whether or not there had been a breach of privilege, reported with their
findings recommendations for expulsion and censure of the Members found
to be implicated. There was criticism of this method of procedure as
deviating from the rule of Jefferson's Manual, but the House did not
recommit the report (II, 1644). In 1857, when a committee charged with
inquiring into accusations against Members not named found certain
Members implicated, they gave them copies of the testimony and
opportunities to explain to the committee, under oath or otherwise, as
they individually might prefer (III, 1845), but reported recommendations
for expulsion without first seeking the order of the House (II, 1275;
III, 1844). In 1859 and 1892 a similar procedure occurred (III, 1831,
2637). But the House, in
Sec. 323. Inquiries involving Members of other
And where one House, by a committee, has found a Member of the
other implicated, the testimony has been transmitted (II, 1276; III,
1850, 1852, 1853). Where such testimony was taken in open session of the
committee, it was not thought necessary that it be under seal when sent
to the other House (III, 1851).
For the current practice of the House, see clauses 2(i) and 2(m)(1) of
Sec. 324. Duty of chair of a committee when the House
So soon as the House sits, and a committee is notified of it, the
chairman is in duty bound to rise instantly, and the members to attend
the service of the House. 2 Nals., 319.
stance (IV, 4424), and in another the joint committee elected its chair
It is the practice in Congress that joint committees shall vote per
capita, and not as representatives of the two Houses (IV, 4425),
although the membership from the House is usually, but not always (IV
4410), larger than that from the Senate (III, 1946; IV, 4426-4431). But
ordinary committees of conference appointed to settle differences
between the two Houses are not considered joint committees, and the
managers of the two Houses vote separately (V, 6336), each House having
one vote. A quorum of a joint committee seems to have been considered to
be a majority of the whole number rather than a majority of the
membership of each House (IV, 4424). The first named of the Senate
members acted as chair in one notable in
Sec. 325. Action of joint committees.
It appears that on
joint committees of the Lords and Commons each committee acted
integrally in the following instances: 7 Grey, 261, 278, 285, 338; 1
Chandler, 357, 462. In the following instances it does not appear
whether they did or not: 6 Grey, 129; 7 Grey, 213, 229, 321.