Approval of the Journal
1. The Speaker shall take the Chair on every legislative day precisely at the hour to which the House last adjourned and immediately call the House to order. Having examined and approved the Journal of the last days proceedings, the Speaker shall announce to the House his approval thereof. The Speakers approval of the Journal shall be deemed agreed to unless a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner demands a vote thereon. If such a vote is decided in the affirmative, it shall not be subject to a motion to reconsider. If such a vote is decided in the negative, then one motion that the Journal be read shall be privileged, shall be decided without debate, and shall not be subject to a motion to reconsider.
Preservation of order
2. The Speaker shall preserve order and decorum and, in case of disturbance or disorderly conduct in the galleries or in the lobby, may cause the same to be cleared.
Control of Capitol facilities
3. Except as otherwise provided by rule or law, the Speaker shall have general control of the Hall of the House, the corridors and passages in the part of the Capitol assigned to the use of the House, and the disposal of unappropriated rooms in that part of the Capitol.
Signature of documents
4. The Speaker shall sign all acts and joint resolutions passed by the two Houses and all writs, warrants, and subpoenas of, or issued by order of, the House. The Speaker may sign enrolled bills and joint resolutions whether or not the House is in session.
Questions of order
5. The Speaker shall decide all questions of order, subject to appeal by a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner. On such an appeal a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not speak more than once without permission of the House.
Form of a question
6. The Speaker shall rise to put a question but may state it sitting. The Speaker shall put a question in this form: Those in favor (of the question), say Aye. ; and after the affirmative voice is expressed, Those opposed, say No. . After a vote by voice under this clause, the Speaker may use such voting procedures as may be invoked under rule XX.
Discretion to vote
7. The Speaker is not required to vote in ordinary legislative proceedings, except when his vote would be decisive or when the House is engaged in voting by ballot.
Speaker pro tempore
8. (a) The Speaker may appoint a Member to perform the duties of the Chair. Except as specified in paragraph (b), such an appointment may not extend beyond three legislative days.
(b)(1) In the case of his illness, the Speaker may appoint a Member to perform the duties of the Chair for a period not exceeding 10 days, subject to the approval of the House. If the Speaker is absent and has omitted to make such an appointment, then the House shall elect a Speaker pro tempore to act during the absence of the Speaker.
(2) With the approval of the House, the Speaker may appoint a Member to act as Speaker pro tempore only to sign enrolled bills and joint resolutions for a specified period of time.
9. A person may not serve as Speaker for more than four consecutive Congresses (disregarding for this purpose any service for less than a full session in any Congress).
Designation of travel
10. The Speaker may designate a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House to travel on the business of the House within or without the United States, whether the House is meeting, has recessed, or has adjourned. Expenses for such travel may be paid from applicable accounts of the House described in clause 1(i)(1) of rule X on vouchers approved and signed solely by the Speaker.
11. The Speaker shall appoint all select, joint, and conference committees ordered by the House. At any time after an original appointment, the Speaker may remove Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner from, or appoint additional Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner to, a select or conference committee. In appointing Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner to conference committees, the Speaker shall appoint no less than a majority who generally supported the House position as determined by the Speaker, shall name those who are primarily responsible for the legislation, and shall, to the fullest extent feasible, include the principal proponents of the major provisions of the bill or resolution passed or adopted by the House.
Declaration of recess
12. To suspend the business of the House for a short time when no question is pending before the House, the Speaker may declare a recess subject to the call of the Chair.
13. The Speaker, in consultation with the Minority Leader, shall develop through an appropriate entity of the House a system for drug testing in the House. The system may provide for the testing of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House, and otherwise shall be comparable in scope to the system for drug testing in the executive branch pursuant to Executive Order 12564 (Sept. 15, 1986). The expenses of the system may be paid from applicable accounts of the House for official expenses.
Each state has two Senators while membership in the House of Representatives is apportioned according to a state’s population.
Leader’s Lecture Series
Outstanding former Senate leaders and other distinguished Americans share their insights about the Senate’s recent history and long-term practices.
The Constitution assigns the Senate and House equal responsibility for declaring war, maintaining the armed forces, assessing taxes, borrowing money, minting currency, regulating commerce, and making all laws necessary for the operation of the government. The Senate holds exclusive authority to advise and consent on treaties and nominations.
How the Senate Works
The Constitution prescribes that the Senate will be composed of two Senators from each State (therefore, the Senate currently has 100 Members) and that a Senator must be at least 30 years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for 9 years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State from which the he or she is chosen. A Senator’s term of office is 6 years and approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every second year.
Senate committees are appointed by resolution at the beginning of each Congress, with power to continue to act until their successors are appointed. All Senate committees are created by the Senate. At present, Senate committees include 16 standing committees, 3 select committees, and 2 special committees.
Who are all those people on the Senate Floor?
You will see several officials on the floor of the Senate when it convenes, including the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Senate, the Sergeant at Arms, the Legislative Clerk, the Journal Clerk, the Parliamentarian of the Senate, the Secretaries for the Majority and the Minority, the Official Reporters of Debate, and the Pages.
The Secretary of the Senate is the elected official of the Senate responsible for management of many legislative and administrative services. The Secretary is the disbursing officer for the Senate. The official seal of the Senate is in the custody of, and its use is prescribed by, the Secretary. In the absence of the Vice President, and pending the election of a President pro tempore, the Secretary performs the duties of the chair.
The Assistant Secretary is the chief assistant to the Secretary of the Senate. The Assistant Secretary performs the functions of the Secretary in the latter’s absence, and in the event of the death or resignation of the Secretary would act as Secretary in all matters except those duties as disbursing officer of the Senate.
On the day after the first organization of the Senate, a Doorkeeper was chosen whose title was eventually changed to Sergeant at Arms. His duties are to execute the Senate’s orders as to decorum on the floor and in the galleries. He is responsible for the enforcement of all rules made for the regulation of the Senate wing of the Capitol. He also is the custodian of all properties under the dominion of the Senate and supervises the messengers, pages and other workers who serve the Senate. If the Senate decides to issue warrants of arrest for its absent Members, it is the duty of the Sergeant of Arms to bring those Senators into custody.
Article 1, section 5, paragraph 3 of the Constitution provides that “Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House and any question shall, at the Desire of one-fifth of those Present be entered on the Journal.” The Journal Clerk is charged with maintaining the Senate Journal under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate.
The Legislative Clerk is responsible for reporting all bills, messages from the House, conference reports, and amendments to the Senate. All record votes are taken by the Legislative Clerk and his assistants.
An appointed official of the Senate, the Parliamentarian functions under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate. The Parliamentarian’s chief duty and responsibility is to advise the Presiding Officer on parliamentary aspects of Senate activity. The Parliamentarian advises Senators and senatorial committee staffs, and is called upon by other branches of Government, the press, and the public for information regarding procedural aspects of Senate activity.
The Official Reporters of Debates prepare the material concerning business of the Senate for inclusion in the Congressional Record. All proceedings in the Senate Chamber are reported verbatim by a staff of Official Reporters, who are under the supervision of the Editor in Chief. The Editor in Chief is the editor of all matter contained in the Senate proceedings. In addition to the verbatim proceedings in the Senate Chamber, the office of the Official Reporters processes for inclusion in the Congressional Record a description of the morning business conducted by the Senate (measures introduced, messages from the President and the House of Representatives, co-sponsors, communications received, and notices of hearings), and additional or unspoken statements of Senators. The Official Reporters of Debates are appointed by the Secretary of the Senate.
The Secretary for the Majority is an elected officer of the Senate who is responsible for providing many support services to the majority party leaders and members of the Senate. The floor-related duties of the Secretary include supervising the cloakroom, briefing Senators on votes and issues that are under consideration on the floor, obtaining pairs for Senators, and polling Senators when the Leadership so desires. Additionally, the Secretary is responsible for assigning Senate Chamber seats to the majority party Members; maintaining a file of committee assignment requests; staffing the committee which arranges majority party committee assignments; recommending to the Leadership majority party candidates for appointment to boards, commissions, and international conferences; maintaining records of such appointments; providing a repository for official minutes of majority party conferences and meetings of the Policy Committee, Steering Committee, and committee chairmen; monitoring the nominations on the Executive Calendar; and other duties as directed by the Leadership.
The Secretary for the Minority also is an elected officer of the Senate, and performs corresponding duties for the minority party leaders and other Senators.
There are three different kinds of courts that make up the federal court system; the district courts, the courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was created by the Constitution to make sure that a citizen’s rights weren’t violated, to assure that they would get a fair trial, and to establish justice. The lower federal courts were created in 1789 by Congress because the Supreme Court couldn’t handle all of the cases by itself. These three kinds of courts make up the Judicial Branch of the government.
The federal court system of the United States was created to protect the rights of U.S. citizens, to establish justice, and to make sure that all of the laws in the United States were constitutional.
The district courts are the entry level courts. It is the only federal court that conducts a trial by jury. It has original jurisdiction on all of the cases it hears. The district courts hears crimes related to the federal law. It also hears civil suits that are over $10,000 and are between people of different states or when a foreign party is involved. Certain cases involving income taxes, copyright laws, trademark laws, and patent laws are other cases the district courts hears. There are about ninety-four district courts in the U.S. plus one in Washington D.C.. There is at least one district courts in every state. California has four district courts. The judges for the district courts are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate. There are no qualifications for becoming a judge, except that one must be an American citizen. Most judges are lawyers who are able to understand the law. Judges serve lifetime terms. There are approximately 565 judges that serve the district courts, with at lest one judge in every court. The District Court is only the first of three federal courts.
The courts of appeals is the second level in the federal court system. All of its cases come from the district courts, but only certain cases are heard. Usually it is a case where a mistake was made in the process of the trial. Both oral and written arguments are heard at the courts of appeals. The courts of appeals has the option to affirm, reverse, modify, or remand a decision made in the district courts. Judges in the courts of appeals must be American citizens. The judges in the courts of appeals are chosen on the same basis as in the district courts. There are at least six judges per court and there are about 167 judges total. There is one chief judge. He or she must have served the most years as a judge and must be under sixty-five. The chief judge’s term lasts seven years. The chief judge still hears cases, but he also has administrative duties. There are thirteen courts of appeals spread out through the United States including one in San Diego, California.
The highest federal court is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is primarily an appellate court. It hears cases from the district courts, the courts of appeals, and state supreme courts. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction on all cases involving foreign ambassadors and when a state sues another state. These cases form ten percent of all its cases. Of the 4,500 cases appealed to the Supreme Court each year only 200 are heard. One of the reasons the Supreme Court is so powerful is the power of Judicial Review. This gives the Supreme Court the right to overturn state laws and laws passed by Congress. It also gives the Supreme Court the power to declare the presidentOs actions unconstitutional. This power was first exercised in 1803 by Chief Justice John Marshall in the case of Marbury versus Madison. By using this power, John Marshall set a precedent. There are nine justices that serve the Supreme Court. There is one Chief Justice and 8 associate justices. They all serve lifetime terms unless they retire, die, or are impeached. The justices meet from October to June. The Supreme Court is located in Washington D.C. It is the only court created by the Constitution.
The federal court system is a very important part of the federal government. Not only does it check other parts of government through Judicial Review, but it also helps everyday American citizens. It makes sure that citizens receive due process from the law. The courts also make sure that the Constitution is followed. Greece was an ancient form of democracy. The United States adapted this to fit the needs of today. At the funeral oration of Pericles it was said, “Our government is named a democracy, because it is in the hands not of the few but of the many. But our laws secure equal justice for all in their private disputes.” This today has an important meaning to Americans everywhere.