[Deschler's Precedents, Volume 3]
[Chapter 12. Conduct or Discipline of Members, Officers, or Employees]
[B. Nature and Forms of Disciplinary Measures]
[§ 18. Deprivation of Seniority Status]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

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                               CHAPTER 12
        Conduct or Discipline of Members, Officers, or Employees
Sec. 18. Deprivation of Seniority Status

    Under the U.S. Constitution, the House is authorized to deprive a 
Member of his seniority status as a form of disciplinary 
 4. See Sec. 18.2, infra.


Sec. 18.1 A Member may be reduced in committee seniority as a result of 
    party discipline enforced through the machinery of his party--the 
    caucus and the Committee on Committees.

    Parliamentarian's Note: In 1965, two Democratic Members who had 
refused to support the Presidential candidate of their party were 
reduced in committee seniority as the result of party discipline 
enforced through the machinery of the party-the caucus and the 
Committee on Committees.(5)
 5. One Member (Albert Watson [S.C.]) resigned from the House, 111 
        Cong. Rec. 805, 806, 89th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 15, 1965, and 
        was then re-elected as a member of the other political party in 
        a special election called to fill the vacancy. The other (John 
        B. Williams [Miss.]) was voted to the bottom of two committees, 
        111 Cong. Rec. 809, 89th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 15, 1965.


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    As a matter of party disciplinary policy, the Democratic Caucus 
instructed the Committee on Committees to assign the ``last position'' 
on a committee to a particular Member. But other Members subsequently 
elected to the same committee were junior to him in committee 
 6. See 112 Cong. Rec. 27486, 89th Cong. 2d Sess., Oct. 18, 1966, 
        wherein committee member John Bell Williams (Miss.) was advised 
        that a newly elected Member would rank below Mr. Williams in 

    In 1967, the Democratic Committee on Committees reported to the 
House a resolution leaving vacancies on certain standing committees 
pending further consideration by the caucus of committee assignments 
and seniority thereon of a Member who had, in the preceding Congress, 
been stripped of his committee seniority (at the direction of the 
caucus) and assigned to the last position on the committees, and who 
had asked that he not be assigned to any committee pending a final 
determination by the caucus.(7)
 7. 113 Cong. Rec. 1086, 90th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 23, 1967, relating 
        to the assignment of committee positions of John Bell Williams 

Deprivation of Seniority Status For Acts Committed in Prior Congress

Sec. 18.2 Deprivation of seniority status is a form of disciplinary 
    action that may be invoked by the House against a Member, pursuant 
    to a committee's recommendation, under article I, section 5, clause 
    2 of the U.S. Constitution, for acts committed in a prior Congress.

    In the 90th Congress, a committee of the House recommended that a 
Member-elect, Adam Clayton Powell, of New York, be deprived of his 
seniority status and subjected to certain other penalties for his 
conduct in a prior Congress.(8)
 8. See H. Rept. No. 90-27, 90th Cong. 1st Sess. (1967), ``In Re Adam 
        Clayton Powell, Report of Select Committee Pursuant to H. Res. 
        1,'' p. 33; see also H. Res. 278, 90th Cong. 1st Sess., 113 
        Cong. Rec. 4997, Mar. 1, 1967. The motion for the previous 
        question on this resolution containing the select committee 
        recommendation was defeated (113 Cong. Rec. 5020, Mar. 1, 
        1967), and a substitute amendment excluding the Member-elect 
        was proposed and adopted (113 Cong. Rec. 5037, 5038, Mar. 1, 
        1967). See Sec. 14.1, supra.
            The recommendation of the select committee was 
        characterized by a Member: ``Never before has any Member of the 
        Congress been stripped of his seniority in the course of 
        (punishment) proceedings.'' 113 Cong. Rec. 5006, Mar. 1, 1967, 
        remarks by Representative John Conyers, Jr. (Mich.).


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    In the 91st Congress, the House agreed to a resolution which, among 
other things, reduced the seniority of Mr. Powell to that of first-term 
Congressman (thus eliminating consideration of any prior service in the 
computation of seniority).(9)
 9. 9. 115 Cong. Rec. 29, 34, 91st Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 3, 1969 [H. 
        Res. 2]. r. Powell had been excluded by the House in the 90th 
        Congress, but had been reelected to the 91st Congress. The 
        resolution [H. Res. 2] also provided for a fine of $25,000 
        against Mr. Powell to be deducted on a monthly basis from his 
        salary, and specified that Mr. Powell had to take the oath 
        before Jan. 15, 1969, or his seat would be declared vacant.

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