Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives)
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In the
United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, with the United States Senate, Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national Bicameralism, bicameral legislature of the United St ...
, a Committee of the Whole House is a
congressional committee File:Defense.gov photo essay 070731-N-0696M-301.jpg, upright=1.2, The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing testimony in the Hart Senate Office Building in 2007. A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States ...
that includes all members of the House. In modern practice there is only one such committee, the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, which has original consideration of all bills on the Union Calendar. While assembled the House may resolve itself temporarily into a Committee of the Whole House. Business can then proceed with various procedural requirements relaxed. At the conclusion of business, the committee resolves to "rise" and reports its conclusions (typically in the form of an amended bill) or lack of conclusion to 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 ...
. When the House resolves into a Committee of the Whole House, the speaker appoints another member to the chair, and this member is responsible for delivering the committee's report. Conventionally, the speaker appoints a member of the majority party who does not hold the chair of a
standing committee A committee or commission is a body of one or more persons subordinate to an assembly. A committee is not itself considered to be a form of assembly. Usually, the assembly sends matters into a committee as a way to explore them more fully than wo ...
. A Committee of the Whole House requires 100 members for 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, ...
as compared to the House's majority of 218, while only 25 members are required to force a recorded rather than voice vote.


History

The tradition of a committee of the whole originates in the
English House of Commons The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is ...
, where it is attested as early as 1607. In only a few years it became a near-daily process used to debate matters without representatives of the Crown present, and the custom was subsequently adopted by deliberative assemblies in other Crown provinces. The American
Continental Congress The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
, for example, established committees of the whole "to take into consideration the state of America." The rules of the House in the 1st United States Congress expressly provided for the House, on any business day, to resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union. This procedure was used to discuss matters for which no specific action had been decided.Hinds, Asher (1907) ''Hinds' Precedents'' Since 1807 the Committee has also been the recipient of 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
's messages on the
State of the Union The State of the Union Address (sometimes abbreviated to SOTU) is an annual message delivered by the president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United Sta ...

State of the Union
. Other ''ad hoc'' committees of the whole were established and charged through the normal committee process, but in time a custom developed whereby the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union considered
public bill Proposed Bill (proposed law), bills are often categorized into public bills and private bills. A public bill is a proposed law which would apply to everyone within its jurisdiction. This is unlike a private bill which is a proposal for a law that w ...
s and a separate Committee of the Whole House considered all
private bill Proposed bills are often categorized into public bills and private bills. A public bill is a proposed law which would apply to everyone within its jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' ...
s. The Committee of the Whole House for private bills was abolished by the
106th Congress The 106th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primari ...
, which transferred their consideration to the House proper. For most of the House's history, votes in the Committee of the Whole were off record. The
Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 () was an act of the United States Congress to "improve the operation of the legislative branch of the Federal Government, and for other purposes." The act focused mainly on the rules that governed congres ...
provided for the recording of votes by name upon the request of 25 members, which is routine for amendment votes.


Participation of non-voting delegates

In 1993,
Delegate Delegate or delegates may refer to: * Delegate, New South Wales, a town in Australia * Delegate (CLI), a computer programming technique * Delegate (American politics), a representative in any of various political organizations * Delegate (United St ...
Eleanor Holmes Norton Eleanor Holmes Norton (born June 13, 1937) is an American politician serving as a Delegate to the United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, with the ...

Eleanor Holmes Norton
(D-DC), along with the
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 Regulatory agency, commission or an individual who has been given a Wiktionary: commission, commission ...
from
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 t ...

Puerto Rico
and the delegates from
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Guam
, 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 ...

U.S. Virgin Islands
, and
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American Samoa
, received a limited vote in the Committee of the Whole, based on their right to vote in legislative committees. However, this limited vote stipulated if any of the delegates provided the deciding vote on an issue considered by the Committee of the Whole, a new vote would be conducted and the delegates would not be allowed to vote. The right of delegates to vote in Committee of the Whole was removed by the Republican majority in 1995 after that party gained control of Congress in the 1994 congressional elections. In January 2007, it was proposed by Democrats in the House that the 1993–1994 procedure be revived. The House approved the proposal with the adoption of by a vote of 226–191. On January 5, 2011, at the start of the 112th Congress, the Republican-controlled House voted for a rules package that included stripping non-voting delegates of their votes in the Committee of the Whole. Del. Norton proposed pending further study of the non-voting delegate issue, but was defeated in a 225–188 party-line vote. At the start of each new Congress since 2011, Del. Norton and her fellow non-voting delegates have sought restoration of the right to vote in the Committee of the Whole but House Republicans have not voted in favor of the proposal. The delegates from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, have proposed several bipartisan rule changes for the 116th Congress, including restoring their vote in the Committee of the Whole. When Democrats regained control in the 116th United States Congress, they again reinstated the right of delegates to vote in the committee of the whole.


Former use in the Senate

Until 1930, the
United States Senate The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives being the Lower house, lower chamber. Together they compose the national Bica ...
considered all bills in the committee of the whole, or "quasi-committee," before a final debate. The usual rules of debate applied, but only amendments could be considered and tentatively approved. It was possible for a bill to go through four debates: consideration and reconsideration in quasi-committee, then final consideration and reconsideration in the Senate. This practice ended for bills and
joint resolution 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 Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the ...
s in 1930, and for treaties in 1986.S. Res. 28 (1986)


See also

*
List of current United States House of Representatives committees A ''list'' is any set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname)List or Liste is a European surname. Notable people with the surname include: List * Friedrich List (1789–1846), German economist * Garrett List (1943 ...


References


Further reading

* Sinclair, Barbara (1997). ''Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress''. CQ Press. .


External links


Rules of the House of Representatives of the 109th Congress
{{DEFAULTSORT:Committee Of The Whole (United States House Of Representatives) * Committee of the Whole Terminology of the United States Congress Organizations with year of establishment missing