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The United States House of Representatives is the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...
of the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, t ...

United States Congress
, with the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
being the upper house. Together they compose the national
bicameral legislature Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, ...
of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. The House's composition is established by
Article One of the United States Constitution Article One of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, deline ...
. The House is composed of representatives who sit in
congressional districts Congressional districts, also known as electoral districts, legislative districts, wards and electorates in other nations, are divisions of a larger administrative region that represent the population of a region in the larger congressional body. N ...
allocated to each
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
on a basis of population as measured by the
U.S. Census#REDIRECT United States census The United States Census (plural censuses or census) is a census A census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, and acquiring and recording information about the members of a given Statistical population, ...
, with each district having one representative, provided that each state is entitled to at least one. Since its inception in 1789, all representatives have been directly elected. The number of voting representatives is fixed by law at 435.See
Public Law 62-5 The Apportionment Act of 1911 (, ) was an apportionment The legal term apportionment (french: apportionement; Mediaeval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic language ...
of 1911, though Congress has the authority to change that number. The
Reapportionment Act of 1929 The Reapportionment Act of 1929 (ch. 28, , ), also known as the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, is a combined census A census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, and acquiring and recording information about the members of a giv ...
capped the size of the House at 435.
If enacted, the DC Admission Act would permanently increase the number of representatives to 436. In addition, there are currently six non-voting members, bringing the total membership of the House of Representatives to 441 or fewer with vacancies. As of the
2010 Census2010 census may refer to: * 2010 Chinese Census * 2010 Dominican Republic Census * 2010 Indonesian census * 2010 Malaysian Census * 2010 Russian Census * 2010 Turkish census * 2010 United States Census * 2010 Zambian census {{Disambiguation ...
, the largest delegation is that of
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
, with 53 representatives. Seven states have only one representative:
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
,
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
,
North Dakota North Dakota () is a U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due to th ...
,
South Dakota South Dakota () (Sioux The Sioux or Oceti Sakowin (; Dakota Dakota may refer to: * Dakota people, a sub-tribe of the Sioux ** Dakota language, their language From this origin, Dakota may also refer to: Places United States * Dako ...

South Dakota
,
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
, and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
. The House is charged with the passage of federal
legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgating law by a legislature, parliament, or analogous Government, governing body. Before an item of legislation becomes law ...
, known as bills, which, after concurrence by the Senate, are sent to the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
for consideration. The House also has exclusive powers: it initiates all revenue bills, impeaches federal officers, and elects the president if no candidate receives a majority of votes in the
Electoral College An electoral college is a set of Voting, electors who are selected to elect a candidate to particular offices. Often these represent different organizations, political parties or Legal entity, entities, with each organization, political party or ...

Electoral College
. The House meets in the south wing of the
United States Capitol The United States Capitol, often called The Capitol or the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicame ...

United States Capitol
. The presiding officer is the
Speaker of the House File:Marshal's chair Sejm Plenary Hall.JPG, 250px, Marshal's chair in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a Legislature, legislative body, is its chai ...
, who is elected by the members thereof. The Speaker and other floor leaders are chosen by the
Democratic Caucus A congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States and consists of the House of Representati ...

Democratic Caucus
or the Republican Conference, depending on whichever
party A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks Cou ...
has more voting members.


History

Under the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America ...
, the
Congress of the Confederation The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), ...
was a
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
body with equal representation for each state, any of which could veto most actions. After eight years of a more limited
confederal A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in ...
government under the Articles, numerous political leaders such as
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited wi ...

James Madison
and
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States The Founding Fa ...

Alexander Hamilton
initiated the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which received the Confederation Congress's sanction to "amend the Articles of Confederation". All states except
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as ...
agreed to send delegates. Congress's structure was a contentious issue among the founders during the convention.
Edmund Randolph Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 September 12, 1813) was an American attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advis ...
's
Virginia Plan The ''Virginia Plan'' (also known as the Randolph Plan, after its sponsor, or the Large-State Plan) was a proposal to the United States Constitutional Convention for the creation of a supreme national government with three branches and a bica ...

Virginia Plan
called for a
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
Congress: the lower house would be "of the people", elected directly by the people of the United States and representing
public opinion Public opinion is the collective opinion on a specific topic or voting intention relevant to a society. Etymology The term "public opinion" was derived from the French ', which was first used in 1588 by Michel de Montaigne Image:ArmoiriesM ...
, and a more deliberative upper house, elected by the lower house, that would represent the individual states, and would be less susceptible to variations of mass sentiment."Delegates of the Continental Congress Who Signed the United States Constitution"
, United States House of Representatives. Accessed February 19, 2017. "While some believed the Articles should be 'corrected and enlarged as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution,' the Virginia Plan called for completely replacing it with a strong central government based on popular consent and proportional representation.... 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: a unicameral legislature where all states had equal representation, the appointment of a plural executive, and a supreme court of limited jurisdiction.... The committee’s report, dubbed the Great Compromise, ironed out many contentious points. It resolved the delegates’ sharpest disagreement by prescribing a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the House and equal state representation in the Senate. 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."
The House is commonly referred to as the
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, We ...
and the Senate the upper house, although the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...

United States Constitution
does not use that terminology. Both houses' approval is necessary for the passage of
legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolled bill, enrolling, enactment of a bill, enacting, or promulgation, promulgating law by a legislature, parliament, or analogous Government, governing body. Before an item of legislation becomes law ...
. The Virginia Plan drew the support of delegates from large states such as
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
, and
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
, as it called for representation based on population. The smaller states, however, favored the
New Jersey Plan The ''New Jersey Plan'' (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was cr ...

New Jersey Plan
, which called for a unicameral Congress with equal representation for the states. Eventually, the Convention reached the
Connecticut Compromise The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and rep ...
or 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 A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
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 Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
. The
North North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydro ...
was much more populous than the
South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...
, 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 The Wilmot Proviso was an unsuccessful 1846 proposal in the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States and consists of the House of Repr ...
, which sought to ban slavery in the land gained during the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the (''U.S. intervention in Mexico''), was an armed conflict between the United States and Second Federal Republic of Mexico, Mexico from 1846 ...

Mexican–American War
. Conflict over slavery and other issues persisted until the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
(1861–1865), which began soon after several southern states attempted to
secede Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, ...

secede
from the Union. The war culminated in the South's defeat and in the abolition of slavery. All southern senators except
Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 July 31, 1875) was the 17th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of the and is the of the . The power of the pre ...

Andrew Johnson
resigned their seats at the beginning of the war, and therefore the Senate did not hold the balance of power between North and South during the war. The years of
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
that followed witnessed large majorities for the
Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about polit ...
, 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 In United States history The history of the United States started with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Numerous indigenous cultures formed, and many disappeared in the 1500s. The arrival of Christopher C ...
, was marked by sharp political divisions in the electorate. The
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
and Republican Party each 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 File:Marshal's chair Sejm Plenary Hall.JPG, 250px, Marshal's chair in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a Legislature, legislative body, is its chai ...
. The rise of the speaker's influence began in the 1890s, during the tenure of Republican
Thomas Brackett Reed Thomas Brackett Reed (October 18, 1839 – December 7, 1902), was an American politician from the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...
. "
Czar Tsar ( or ), also spelled ''czar'', ''tzar'', or ''csar'', is a title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or acad ...

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 In U.S. politics (as well as in some other countries utilizing the presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government (President (government title), president) lead ...
and
minority leader In politics of the United States, U.S. politics (as well as in some other countries utilizing the presidential system), the minority leader is the floor leader of the second largest caucus in a legislature, legislative body. Given the two-p ...
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 (May 7, 1836 – November 12, 1926) was a United States politician from Illinois Illinois ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. It has the List of U.S ...
, from 1903 to 1911. The speaker's powers included chairmanship of the influential Rules Committee and the ability to appoint members of other House committees. However, these powers were curtailed in the "Revolution of 1910" because of the efforts of Democrats and dissatisfied Republicans who opposed Cannon's heavy-handed tactics. The Democratic Party dominated the House of Representatives during the administration of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the De ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt
(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 1955 until 1995. In the mid-1970s, members passed major reforms that strengthened the power of sub-committees at the expense of committee chairs and allowed 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 1990s to greater control of the legislative program by the majority party; the power of party leaders (especially the speaker) grew considerably. According to historian Julian E. Zelizer, the majority Democrats minimized the number of staff positions available to the minority Republicans, kept them out of decision-making, and gerrymandered their home districts. Republican
Newt Gingrich Newton Leroy Gingrich (; né McPherson; born June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author who served as the 50th speaker of the United States House of Representatives The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, co ...

Newt Gingrich
argued American democracy was being ruined by the Democrats' tactics and that the GOP had to destroy the system before it could be saved. Cooperation in governance, says Zelizer, would have to be put aside until they deposed Speaker Wright and regained power. Gingrich brought an ethics complaint which led to Wright's resignation in 1989. Gingrich gained support from the media and good government forces in his crusade to persuade Americans that the system was, in Gingrich's words, “morally, intellectually and spiritually corrupt”. Gingrich followed Wright's successor, Democrat
Tom Foley Thomas Stephen Foley (March 6, 1929 – October 18, 2013) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 49th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, com ...
, as speaker after the
Republican Revolution The Republican Revolution, Revolution of '94, or Gingrich Revolution, refers to the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party (GOP) success in the 1994 United States elections, 1994 U.S. midterm elections, which resulted in 1994 United ...
of 1994 gave his party control of the House. Gingrich attempted to pass a major legislative program, the
Contract with America The Contract with America was a legislative agenda advocated for by the Republican Party during the 1994 congressional election campaign. Written by Newt Gingrich Newton Leroy Gingrich (; né McPherson; born June 17, 1943) is an American po ...
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 William Jefferson Clinton ('' né'' Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 42nd president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and ...

Bill Clinton
, or were substantially altered in negotiations with Clinton. However, after Republicans held control in the 1996 election, Clinton and the Gingrich-led House agreed on the first balanced federal budget in decades, along with a substantial tax cut. The Republicans held on to the House until
2006 2006 was designated as the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and the International Asperger syndrome, Asperger's Year. Events January * January 1 – Russia cuts the shipment of natural gas to Ukraine over a Russia–U ...
, when the Democrats won control and
Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia Pelosi (; ; born March 26, 1940) is an American politician serving as since 2019, and previously from 2007 to 2011. She has served as a U.S. representative from since 1987. A member of the , Pelosi is the only woman in U.S. h ...

Nancy Pelosi
was subsequently elected by the House as the first female speaker. The Republicans retook the House in
2011 A series of protests and government overthrows, known as the Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab worl ...
, with the largest shift of power since the 1930s. However, the Democrats retook the house in
2019 2019 was designated as International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
, which became the largest shift of power to the Democrats since the 1970s.


Membership, qualifications, and apportionment


Apportionments

Under , seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned among the states by population, as determined by the
census A census is the procedure of systematically calculating, acquiring and recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In ...
conducted every ten years. Each state is entitled to at least one representative, however small its population. The only constitutional rule relating to the size of the House states: "The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative." 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. In 1959, upon the admission of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
, the number was temporarily increased to 437 (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. The Constitution does not provide for the representation of the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...
or of
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
. The
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...
and the territories of
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
,
American Samoa #REDIRECT American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territory of the United States Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) ...

American Samoa
,
Guam Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia Micronesia (, ; from grc, μικρός ''mikrós'' "small" and ''nêsos'' "island") is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of thousa ...

Guam
, the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands The United States Virgin Islands, officially the Virgin Islands of the United States,Also called the ''American Virgin Islands'' are a group of Caribbean islands and an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States The U ...
are each represented by one non-voting delegate. Puerto Rico elects a
resident commissioner Resident commissioner was or is an official title of several different types of commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remunerat ...
, but other than having a four-year term, the resident commissioner's role is identical to the delegates from the other territories. The five delegates and resident commissioner may participate in debates; before 2011, they were also allowed to vote in committees and the
Committee of the Whole A committee of the whole is a meeting of a legislative or deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a meeting of Collective, members who use parliamentary procedure. Etymology In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Bur ...
when their votes would not be decisive.


Redistricting

States entitled to more than one representative are divided into single-member
districts A district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic na ...
. This has been a federal statutory requirement since 1967 pursuant to the act titled An Act For the relief of Doctor Ricardo Yallejo Saniala and to provide for congressional redistricting. Before that law,
general ticket General ticket representation is a type of block voting in which voters opt for a party, or a team's set list of candidates, and the highest-polling one becomes the winner. It, unless tempered to apply to a specific proportion, arrives at a 100% re ...

general ticket
representation was used by some states. States typically redraw district boundaries after each census, though they may do so at other times, such as the 2003 Texas redistricting. Each state determines its own district boundaries, either through legislation or through non-partisan panels. "
Malapportionment Apportionment is the process by which seats in a legislative body are distributed among administrative divisions Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first ...
" is unconstitutional and districts must be approximately equal in population (see '' Wesberry v. Sanders''). Additionally, Section 2 of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate Electorate may refer to: * The people who are eligible to vote in an Election#Electorate, election, especially their number e.g. the term ''size of (the) electorate'' * The dom ...
prohibits redistricting plans that are intended to, or have the effect of, discriminating against racial or language minority voters. Aside from malapportionment and discrimination against racial or language minorities, federal courts have allowed state legislatures to engage in
gerrymandering In representative democracies, Gerrymandering (, originally ) refers to political manipulation of electoral district boundaries with the intent of creating undue advantage for a party, group, or socio-economic class within the constituency. ...

gerrymandering
to benefit political parties or incumbents. In a 1984 case, ''
Davis v. Bandemer ''Davis v. Bandemer'', 478 U.S. 109 (1986), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United S ...
'', the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

Supreme Court
held that gerrymandered districts could be struck down based on the
Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is ...
, but the Court did not articulate a standard for when districts are impermissibly gerrymandered. However, the Court overruled Davis in 2004 in ''
Vieth v. Jubelirer ''Vieth v. Jubelirer'', 541 U.S. 267 (2004), was a United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America The United States of Americ ...
'', and Court precedent currently holds gerrymandering to be a
political question In United States constitutional law United States constitutional law is the body of law governing the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the Un ...
. According to calculations made by Burt Neuborne using criteria set forth by the
American Political Science Association The American Political Science Association (APSA) is a professional association A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) usually seeks to further Further or Furthur may r ...
, about 40 seats, less than 10% of the House membership, are chosen through a genuinely contested electoral process, given partisan gerrymandering.


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 Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...
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 are not required to live in the districts they represent, but they traditionally do. 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. William C. C. Claiborne served in the House below the minimum age of 25. Disqualification: under the Fourteenth Amendment, 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 Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...

Confederacy
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 or polling day is the day on which general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territo ...
the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Pursuant to the Uniform Congressional District Act, representatives must be elected from
single-member districts A single-member district is an electoral district An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or e ...
. After a census is taken (in a year ending in 0), the year ending in 2 is the first year in which elections for U.S. House districts are based on that census (with the Congress based on those districts starting its term on the following Jan. 3). In most states, major party candidates for each district are nominated in partisan
primary election Primary elections, often abbreviated to primaries, are a process by which voters can indicate their preference for their party's candidate, or a candidate in general, in an upcoming general election, local election, or by-election. Depending on t ...
s, typically held in spring to late summer. In some states, the Republican and Democratic parties choose their candidates for each district in their
political convention The terms party conference (British English, UK English), political convention (American English, US and Canadian English), and party congress usually refer to a general meeting of a political party. The conference is attended by certain Delegati ...
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 fights—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 Elections in the refers to the rules and procedures regulating the conditions under which a , , or is entitled to appear on voters' s. As the is decentralized by , Section 4, of the , ballot access laws are established and enforced by the . As a ...
rules for
independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the United States during the early 1930s * Independent ...
and
third party Third party may refer to: Politics * Third party (politics), any party contending for votes that failed to outpoll either of its two strongest rivals ** Third party (United States), a U.S. political term for parties other than the Democrats or Rep ...
candidates to be additional qualifications for holding office and no federal statutes regulate 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 may refer to: Politics * Third party (politics), any party contending for votes that failed to outpoll either of its two strongest rivals ** Third party (United States), a U.S. political term for parties other than the Democrats or Rep ...
may be affected by results of previous years' elections. In 1967, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Congressional District Act, which requires all representatives to be elected from single-member-districts. Following the '' Wesberry v. Sanders'' decision, Congress was motivated by fears that courts would impose at-large plurality districts on states that did not redistrict to comply with the new mandates for districts roughly equal in population, and Congress also sought to prevent attempts by southern states to use such voting systems to dilute the vote of racial minorities. Several states have used multi-member districts in the past, although only two states (Hawaii and New Mexico) used multi-member districts in 1967.
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
is unique in that it holds an all-party "primary election" on the general Election Day with a subsequent
run-off election 325px, An example of runoff voting. Runoff voting involves two rounds of voting. Only two candidates survive to the second round. The two-round system (also known as the second ballot, runoff voting or ballotage) is a voting method Voting is ...
between the top two finishers (regardless of party) if no candidate received a majority in the primary. The states of
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
and
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
use 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.


Non-voting delegates

Historically, many
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
have sent
non-voting delegates Abstention is a term in election procedure for when a participant in a Voting, vote either does not go to vote (on election day) or, in parliamentary procedure, is present during the vote, but does not cast a ballot. Abstention must be contrast ...
to the House. While their role has fluctuated over the years, today they have many of the same privileges as voting members, have a voice in committees, and can introduce bills on the floor, but cannot vote on the ultimate passage of bills. Presently,
the District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Washington Metro, National Air and Space Museum, A ...
and the five inhabited
U.S. territories The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...
each elect a delegate. A seventh delegate, representing the
Cherokee Nation The Cherokee Nation (Cherokee language, Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, ''Tsalagihi Ayeli'' or ᏣᎳᎩᏰᎵ "Tsalagiyehli"), also known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee List of federally recognized trib ...
, has been formally proposed but has not yet been seated. An eighth delegate, representing the
Choctaw Nation The Choctaw Nation (Choctaw language, Choctaw: ''Chahta Yakni'') is a Native Americans in the United States, Native American territory covering about , occupying portions of southeastern Oklahoma in the United States. The Choctaw Nation is the t ...
is guaranteed by treaty but has not yet been proposed. Additionally, some territories may choose to also elect shadow representatives, though these are not official members of the House and are separate individuals from their official delegates.


Terms

Representatives and delegates serve for two-year terms, while a
resident commissioner Resident commissioner was or is an official title of several different types of commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remunerat ...
(a kind of delegate) serves for four years. A term starts on January 3 following the election in November. The U.S. Constitution requires that vacancies in the House be filled with a special election. The term of the replacement member expires on the date that the original member's would have expired. 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 Sr. (April 17, 1802 – October 29, 1885) was a politician who served as a member of the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of ...
(D-MO), John William Reid (D-MO) and Henry Cornelius Burnett (D-KY). Michael Myers (D-PA) was expelled after his criminal conviction for accepting bribes in 1980, and
James Traficant James Anthony Traficant Jr. (May 8, 1941 – September 27, 2014) was a Democratic, and later independent, politician and member of the United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house ...

James Traficant
(D-OH) was expelled in 2002 following his conviction for corruption. The House also has the power to formally
censure A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. In parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the accepted rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) ...
or reprimand its members; censure or reprimand of a member requires only a simple majority, and does not remove that member from office.


Comparison to the Senate

As a check on the regional, popular, and rapidly changing politics of the House, the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
has several distinct powers. For example, the "
advice and consent Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bill Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type o ...
" powers (such as the power to approve
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...

treaties
and confirm members of the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
) are a sole Senate privilege. The House, however, has the exclusive power to initiate bills for raising revenue, to impeach officials, and to choose the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
if a presidential candidate fails to get a majority of the Electoral College votes. The Senate and House are further differentiated by term lengths and the number of districts represented: the Senate has longer terms of six years, fewer members (currently one hundred, two for each state), and (in all but seven delegations) larger constituencies per member. The Senate is referred to as the "upper" house, and the House of Representatives as the "lower" house.


Salary and benefits


Salaries

, the annual salary of each representative is $174,000, the same as it is for each member of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
. The
speaker of the House File:Marshal's chair Sejm Plenary Hall.JPG, 250px, Marshal's chair in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a Legislature, legislative body, is its chai ...
and the
majority A majority, also called a simple majority to distinguish it from similar terms (see the "Related terms" section below), is the greater part, or more than half, of the total.See dictionary definitions of "majority" aMerriam-Webster
and minority leaders earn more: $223,500 for the speaker and $193,400 for their party leaders (the same as Senate leaders). A cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase takes effect annually unless Congress votes not to accept it. Congress sets members' salaries; however, the Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a change in salary (but not COLA) from taking effect until after the next election of the whole House. Representatives are eligible for retirement benefits after serving for five years. Outside pay is limited to 15% of congressional pay, and certain types of income involving a fiduciary responsibility or personal endorsement are prohibited. Salaries are not for life, only during active term.


Titles

Representatives use the prefix "
The Honorable The prefix The Honourable (or The Honorable in the United States and the Philippines), abbreviated to The Hon., Hon., or The Hon'ble, is an honorific Style (manner of address), style that is used before the names of certain classes of people ...
" before their names. A member of the House is referred to as a ''representative'', ''congressman'', or ''congresswoman''. Representatives are usually identified in the media and other sources by party and state, and sometimes by congressional district, or a major city or community within their district. For example, House speaker
Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia Pelosi (; ; born March 26, 1940) is an American politician serving as since 2019, and previously from 2007 to 2011. She has served as a U.S. representative from since 1987. A member of the , Pelosi is the only woman in U.S. h ...

Nancy Pelosi
, who represents
California's 12th congressional district California's 12th congressional district is a congressional district in California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of sta ...
within
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (dis ...

San Francisco
, may be identified as "D–California," "D–California–12" or "D–San Francisco." A small number of representatives have elected to use the post nominal "MC" (for "member of Congress") after their names, a reflection of the
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
’s usage of " MP".


Pension

All members of Congress are automatically enrolled in the
Federal Employees Retirement System The Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) is the retirement system for employees within the United States civil service The United States federal civil service is the civilianIn general use, a civilian is "a person who is not a member of th ...
, a pension system also used for federal civil servants, except the formula for calculating Congress members' pension results in a 70% higher pension than other federal employees based on the first 20 years of service. They become eligible to receive benefits after five years of service (two and one-half terms in the House). The FERS is composed of three elements: #
Social Security Welfare (or commonly, social welfare) is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs Maslow's hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and ...
# The FERS basic annuity, a monthly pension plan based on the number of years of service and the average of the three highest years of basic pay (70% higher pension than other federal employees based on the first 20 years of service) # The
Thrift Savings Plan TSP logo The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a defined contribution plan for United States civil service employees and retirees as well as for members of the Uniformed services of the United States, uniformed services. As of December 31, 2020, TSP has ...
, a
401(k) In the United States, a 401(k) plan is an employer-sponsored defined contribution, defined-contribution pension account defined in subsection 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code. Employee funding comes directly off their paycheck and may be matched ...
-like
defined contribution planA defined contribution (DC) plan is a type of retirement plan in which the employer, employee or both make contributions on a regular basis. Individual accounts are set up for participants and benefits are based on the amounts credited to these acco ...
for retirement account into which participants can deposit up to a maximum of $19,000 in 2019. Their employing agency matches employee contributions up to 5% of pay. Members of Congress may retire with full benefits at age 62 after five years of service, at age 50 after twenty years of service, and at any age after twenty-five years of service. They may retire with reduced benefits at ages 55 to 59 after five years of service. Depending on birth year, they may receive a reduced pension after ten years of service if they are between 55 years and 57 years of age.


Tax deductions

Members of Congress are permitted to deduct up to $3,000 of living expenses per year incurred while living away from their district or home state.


Health benefits

Before 2014, members of Congress and their staff had access to essentially the same health benefits as federal civil servants; they could voluntarily enroll in the
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program is a system of "managed competition" through which employee health benefits are provided to civilian government employees and annuitants of the United States government The federal gove ...
(FEHBP), an employer-sponsored health insurance program, and were eligible to participate in other programs, such as the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).Annie L. Mach & Ada S. Cornell
Health Benefits for Members of Congress and Certain Congressional Staff
, Congressional Research Service, February 18, 2014.
However, Section 1312(d)(3)(D) of the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act The Affordable Care Act (ACA), formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and colloquially known as Obamacare, is a United States U.S. federal law, federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed ...
(ACA) provided that the only health plans that the federal government can make available to members of Congress and certain congressional staff are those created under the ACA or offered through a health care exchange. The
Office of Personnel Management The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is an independent agency A regulatory agency or regulatory authority, is a Public benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisd ...
promulgated a final rule to comply with Section 1312(d)(3)(D). Under the rule, effective January 1, 2014, members and designated staff are no longer able to purchase FEHBP plans as active employees. However, if members enroll in a health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange, they remain eligible for an employer contribution toward coverage, and members and designated staff eligible for retirement may enroll in a FEHBP plan upon retirement. The ACA and the final rule do not affect members' or staffers' eligibility for Medicare benefits. The ACA and the final rule also do not affect members' and staffers' eligibility for other health benefits related to federal employment, so current members and staff are eligible to participate in FSAFEDS (which has three options within the program), the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. The Office of the Attending Physician at the U.S. Capitol provides current members with health care for an annual fee. The attending physician provides routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostics, and may write prescriptions (although the office does not dispense them). The office does not provide vision or dental care. Current members (but not their dependents, and not former members) may also receive medical and emergency dental care at military treatment facilities. There is no charge for outpatient care if it is provided in the National Capital Region, but members are billed at full reimbursement rates (set by the Department of Defense) for inpatient care. (Outside the National Capital Region, charges are at full reimbursement rates for both inpatient and outpatient care).


Personnel, mail and office expenses

House members are eligible for a Member's Representational Allowance (MRA) to support them in their official and representational duties to their district. The MRA is calculated based on three components: one for personnel, one for official office expenses and one for official or franked mail. The personnel allowance is the same for all members; the office and mail allowances vary based on the members' district's distance from Washington, D.C., the cost of office space in the member's district, and the number of non-business addresses in their district. These three components are used to calculate a single MRA that can fund any expense—even though each component is calculated individually, the franking allowance can be used to pay for personnel expenses if the member so chooses. In 2011 this allowance averaged $1.4 million per member, and ranged from $1.35 to $1.67 million. The Personnel allowance was $944,671 per member in 2010. Each member may employ no more than 18 permanent employees. Members' employees' salary is capped at $168,411 as of 2009.


Travel allowance

Before being sworn into office each member-elect and one staffer can be paid for one round trip between their home in their congressional district and Washington, D.C. for organization caucuses. Current members are allowed "a sum for travel based on the following formula: 64 times the rate per mile ... multiplied by the mileage between Washington, DC, and the furthest point in a Member's district, plus 10%." the rate ranges from based on distance ranges between D.C. and the member's district.


Officers


Member officials

The
party A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks Cou ...
with a majority of seats in the House is known as the
majority party In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social ...
. The next-largest party is the minority party. The
speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech, sometimes also called a speaker-hearer Electronics * Loudspeaker, a ...
, 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 In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social ...
could be elected as speaker with the support of a fraction of members of the majority party). Under the Presidential Succession Act (1947), the speaker is second in the line of United States presidential line of succession, presidential succession after the vice president. The speaker is the presiding officer of the House but does not preside over every debate. Instead, s/he 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 s/he has first been recognized by the presiding officer. Moreover, the presiding officer may rule on a "point of order" (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, appoints all members of conference committees, and determines which committees consider bills. Each party elects a floor leader, who is known as the Majority Leader, majority leader or Minority Leader, minority leader. The minority leader heads their party in the House, and the majority leader is their 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 (politics), Whip, who works to ensure that the party's members vote as the party leadership desires. The Assistant Party Leaders of the United States House, current majority whip in the House of Representatives is Jim Clyburn, who is a member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party. The Assistant Party Leaders of the United States House, current minority whip is Steve Scalise, who is a member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party. The whip is supported by Chief Deputy Whips of the United States House of Representatives, chief deputy whips. After the whips, the next ranking official in the House party's leadership is the Party caucuses and conferences in the United States Congress, party conference chair (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), then the co-chairs of the Steering Committee. For the Republicans it is the Republican Policy Committee Chairman of the United States House of Representatives, chair of the House Republican Policy Committee, followed by the campaign committee chairman (styled as the National Republican Congressional Committee). The chairs of Standing committee (United States Congress), House committees, particularly influential standing committees such as United States House Committee on Appropriations, Appropriations, United States House Committee on Ways and Means, Ways and Means, and United States House Committee on Rules, Rules, are powerful but not officially part of the House leadership hierarchy. Until the post of majority leader was created, the chair of Ways and Means was the ''de facto'' majority leader.


Leadership and partisanship

When the presidency and Senate are controlled by a different party from the one controlling the House, the speaker can become the ''de facto'' "leader of the opposition." Some notable examples include Tip O'Neill in the 1980s,
Newt Gingrich Newton Leroy Gingrich (; né McPherson; born June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author who served as the 50th speaker of the United States House of Representatives The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, co ...

Newt Gingrich
in the 1990s, John Boehner in the early 2010s, and
Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia Pelosi (; ; born March 26, 1940) is an American politician serving as since 2019, and previously from 2007 to 2011. She has served as a U.S. representative from since 1987. A member of the , Pelosi is the only woman in U.S. h ...

Nancy Pelosi
in the late 2000s and again in the late 2010s and early 2020s. 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'' "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 such officer is the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, clerk, who maintains public records, prepares documents, and oversees junior officials, including United States House of Representatives Page, pages until the discontinuation of House pages in 2011. 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 of the United States House of Representatives, chief administrative officer, responsible for the day-to-day administrative support to the House of Representatives. This includes everything from payroll to foodservice. The position of Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives, chief administrative officer (CAO) was created by the 104th Congress following the United States elections, 1994, 1994 mid-term elections, replacing the positions of Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives, doorkeeper 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 (congressman), Charlie Rose of North Carolina, along with the House "Folding Room." The Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives, chaplain leads the House in prayer at the opening of the day. The Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, sergeant at arms is the House's chief law enforcement officer and maintains order and security on House premises. Finally, routine police work is handled by the United States Capitol Police, which is supervised by the Capitol Police Board, a body to which the sergeant at arms belongs, and chairs in even-numbered years.


Procedure


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 Podium, rostrum from which the
speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech, sometimes also called a speaker-hearer Electronics * Loudspeaker, a ...
, Speaker pro tempore, or (when in the Committee of the Whole) the chair 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 facing the rostrum 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, facing 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 have been streamed live on C-SPAN since March 19, 1979, and on ''HouseLive'', the official streaming service operated by the Clerk, since the early 2010s. 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. A member may block a unanimous consent agreement, but objections are rare. The presiding officer, the Speaker (politics), 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. Legislation to be considered by the House is placed in a box called the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, hopper. In one of its first resolutions, the U.S. House of Representatives established the Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, Office of the Sergeant at Arms. In an American tradition adopted from English custom in 1789 by the first speaker of the House, Frederick Muhlenberg of
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Pennsylvania
, the Mace of the United States House of Representatives 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 ahead of the speaker in procession to the Podium, 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 A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
to do business. Under the rules and customs of the House, a quorum is always assumed present unless a quorum call 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 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. 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 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 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 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 of Representatives determines the rules according to which it passes legislation. Any of the rules can be changed 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 (which then must be passed by the full House before it becomes effective). 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 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" or "aye" (in favor of the motion) or "nay" or "no" (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. Traditionally, 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. One is electronically. 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: green for "yea," red for "nay," and orange for "present" (i.e., to abstain). 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. 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; rather, a tie vote defeats the motion.


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, 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, 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 A committee of the whole is a meeting of a legislative or deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a meeting of Collective, members who use parliamentary procedure. Etymology In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Bur ...
, 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 United States Congress, 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 United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and occasionally may establish temporary or advisory committees, 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. Other joint committees serve to make advisory reports; for example, there exists a United States Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, 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 1910 to the 1970s, 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 1910 to 1975 committee and subcommittee chairmanship was determined purely by seniority; members of Congress 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 caucuses to elect chairs, shifting power upward to the party leaders. In 1995, Republicans under
Newt Gingrich Newton Leroy Gingrich (; né McPherson; born June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author who served as the 50th speaker of the United States House of Representatives The speaker of the United States House of Representatives, co ...

Newt Gingrich
set a limit of three two-year terms for committee chairs. The chairman's powers are extensive; he controls 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 states, "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." Because 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 Parliament of the United Kingdom, British Parliament, in which only the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, 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:
[T]he constitutional prerogative of the House has been held to apply to all the general appropriations bills, and the Senate's right to amend these 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, 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 they do, the bill does not become law unless each House, by a two-thirds vote, votes to override the veto.


Checks and balances

The Constitution provides that the Senate's "
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" 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 impeachment, 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 seventeen 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 three presidents of the United States have ever been impeached:
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Andrew Johnson
in 1868,
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Bill Clinton
in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019 and in 2021. The trials of Johnson, Clinton and Trump all 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 to the United States Constitution, Twelfth Amendment, 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 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." It is rare for no presidential candidate to receive a majority of electoral votes. In the history of the United States, the House has only had to choose a president twice. In 1800, which was before the adoption of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Twelfth Amendment, it elected Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr. In 1824, it elected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford. (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.)


Latest election results and current party standings


Current standing

. Source:


See also

* 2021 United States House of Representatives elections * List of current members of the United States House of Representatives * Third-party members of the United States House of Representatives * U.S. representative bibliography (congressional memoirs) * Women in the United States House of Representatives


References


Footnotes


Citations


Sources and further reading

* * * , Speaker in the 1970s * , Published every two years since 1975; enormous detail on every state and district and member. * , Speaker in the 1980s * * , * , 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 a
Biographical Directory
. * * * 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: 1945–1964'' (1965) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1965–1968'' (1969) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1969–1972'' (1973) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1973–1976'' (1977) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1977–1980'' (1981) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1981–1984'' (1985) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1985–1988'' (1989) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1989–1992'' (1993) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1993–1996'' (1998) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 1997–2001'' (2002) ** Congressional Quarterly, ''Congress and the Nation: 2001–2004: A Review of Government and Politics: 107th and 108th Congresses'' (2005) * , * * * * , leader of Conservative coalition 1940–66 * , Democratic Speaker in the 1980s * * * * * , Radical leader in Civil War era * * , leader of liberal Democrats in the 1970s * * * * , 14 volumes of primary documents * , leader of Republican insurgents in 1910 * * * * , Political scientist who served in House. * . Speaker for most of 1811–1825 * * * * , Chaired Appropriations in the 1960s * * * * , popular biography * * * , uses roll call analysis * * , majority leader in the 1860s * Valelly, Richard M., “The Reed Rules and Republican Party Building A New Look,” ''Studies in American Political Development,'' 23 (Oct. 2009), 115–42
online
* * , Democratic Speaker 1932–1934 * , *


Surveys

* Currie, James T. ''The United States House of Representatives.'' Krieger, 1988. * * * * * * * * Zelizer, Julian E. ''Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party'' (Penguin, 2020), focus on Jim Wright and Newt Gingrich in 1990s.


External links

*
Clerk of the House of Representatives
*
Chief Administrative Office of the House
*
Office of the majority leader
*
Office of the speaker of the House
*
Official list of current members
*
Rules of the House

Legislative information and archives for US House and Senate
via Congress.gov
''Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present''

A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787–1825

Complete Downloadable List of U.S. Representative Contact Information
via AggData LLC]
Information about U.S. Congressional Bills and Resolutions
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