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passed bills of the old Congress are dead and must be reintroduced when the new Congress organizes.
When a new Congress assembles in December the memberselect are called to order by the clerk of the preceding House. The clerk reads a roll of members-elect whose credentials are in due form; the members-elect select a Speaker, who takes his
THE SENATE BUILDING. This building contains committee rooms, a caucus room, and offices for each senator. It is connected with the Capitol by a tunnel. There is a building of the same kind for the representatives, called the House Building.
oath of office from the oldest member-elect in point of service — called “the Father of the House”; the Speaker, in turn, administers the oath to members-elect against whom no objections are raised by fellow members; the Democrats seat themselves to the right of the centre aisle, the Republicans to the left; and, finally, the new clerk is chosen. The rules, usually those of the preceding House, are adopted. Thus the House is organized.
The Senate, a continuous body, is notified that the House is organized and ready to proceed to business. A joint committee of the two houses notify the President that they are ready to receive any communications. The following day the President's message, outlining desired legislation, is sent to the houses and read, or delivered by the President himself if he desires, as Washington, Adams, Wilson, and Harding have done.
52. Rules of Procedure. — According to the Constitution each house may make its own rules of procedure, but must keep a public journal showing how motions are disposed of and the vote for and against bills and resolutions. It also requires the votes of each member to be recorded if one fifth of the members present demand it. This requirement enables a small number of members to put all the members on record, and thus their constituents may know how their representatives have voted on important bills.
Senate Rules are not so drastic as those of the House because the body is smaller and can proceed in a somewhat less formal manner. The President of the Senate recognizes members in the order in which they rise, and a member may speak as long as he chooses, unless the Senate resorts to the closure rule, which was adopted in 1917. According to this rule, on petition of sixteen senators, supported two days later by a two thirds vote of the Senate, no senator can speak on the measure under discussion more than one hour. Thus the old abuse of “talking a bill to death,” which is known as filibustering, may be prevented if two thirds of the members desire to
House Rules are changed oftener than Senate rules, and are more drastic, otherwise the large house would make no progress. A member may not speak more than an hour without unanimous consent; the Speaker is not obliged to recognize members in the order in which they rise; and a majority, by means of the “previous question,"1 may end a debate at any time.
1" The previous question ” means, “Shall the main question now be put ?'*
Though the rules prescribe a regular order of business for each day in the week - e.g., Friday is “private bill day” most bills are considered when the regular order of business is departed from. The regular order of business may be departed from by the unanimous consent of the members or by the adoption of a “special order” recommended by the committee on rules. On two Mondays in every month, and during the last six days of the session, rules may be suspended by a two-thirds vote, and therefore popular bills may be taken up out of their regular order.
The House Committee on Rules was originally intended to report upon desirable changes in the rules of the House. Gradually it obtained the power to determine the order of procedure and practically what measures should be considered. Until 1910 it was composed of five members, the Speaker and four others appointed by him— two of the majority party and two of the minority. This allowed the Speaker to dominate legislation to such an extent that he spoke of the committee as consisting of “myself and two assistants,” the two assistants being members of his own party whom he could control. By 1910 Speaker Cannon, “stand-patter of stand-patters," so offended the “insurgent” or “progressive" Republicans that, with the aid of the Democrats, they passed a rule depriving the Speaker of membership on the committee and increased the size of the committee to ten members.1 The appointment of this committee and of all other committees was finally taken from him.
53. Committees. The House of Representatives has become too large for free debate and neither the House nor the Senate could work out the details of important legislation upon the floors of the houses. Therefore each house is divided into numerous standing committees, which are permanent throughout a term of Congress (two years), and into other temporary committees The Sixty-seventh Congress had sixty stand
1 This Committee has since been increased to eleven members.
ing committees in the House and thirty-four in the Senate. The committees vary in size from two members of the Committee on the Disposition of Useless Executive Papers to thirty-five members of the Committee on Appropriations.
These committees investigate proposed legislation and recommend for passage the bills which they approve. In each house there are only twenty-odd active committees, and though
DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS OF THE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
OF THE SIXTY-SECOND CONGRESS. The majority members frequently meet alone in the consideration of a bill.
these vary in importance from time to time the following ten are of first importance :
House of Representatives
Until the year 1910 all members of House committees were selected by the Speaker, but since 1911 all of these committees have been elected by the members of the House. Senate committees are also elected by members of the Senate.2 The majority party of each house gives the minority party representation on each committee.
The names of committees indicate the class of bills which the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate refer to them; for instance, the Speaker refers bills for raising revenue to the Ways and Means Committee of the House and the President of the Senate refers them to the Finance Committee of the Senate.
54. Bills. — Any member of either house of Congress may prepare and introduce bills, except that a bill for raising revenue must be introduced in the House by a representative. But the most important bills are prepared by committees and introduced by committee chairmen. During the Sixty-sixth Congress 17,439 bills and resolutions were introduced in the two houses. Of these 594 passed. Less than four per cent of those introduced became law. However, most of them were not introduced to become law, but were merely introduced "to please the voters back home.”
Though the committees are formally elected by the members of the House they are really chosen in a very different manner. When the Republicans gained control of the House in 1919 they created a Committee on Committees to select the Republican members. This committee consists of one Republican from each State having Republican representation in the House, and each committeeman casts as many votes as there are Republican representatives from his State. The Democratic committee members are selected by the Democratic members of the Ways and Means Committee, who are named by the Democratic caucus. These nominated members of the standing committees are then promptly elected by the House.
Members continue upon the same committees term after term unless transferred upon request of the member or for special qualifications.
The committee member longest in continuous service is usually made chairman according to the rule of seniority. The Senate has the same rule.
2 Committees of the Senate are in reality chosen by two committees on committees selected by the caucuses of the two leading parties. The nominees of these committees are usually elected by the Senate without debate.