Under the United States Constitution, each
chamber of Congress is to provide for its own regulations and rules regarding
the proceedings that are to be conducted in each House. Therefore, the House of Representatives and the Senate
engage in the following:
● Offering of the prayer by the Chaplain
of the House
● The reading and approval of the
● The Pledge of Allegiance
● Corrections to public bills
that is pending on the Speaker of the House’s table
or pending business
● Consideration of any new bills
that are to be introduced by the committees of the House of Representatives
● State of the Union
● Orders of the Day.
In regards to the passing of bills, there are
certain regulations that may have to be considered that may differ from the
original list of priorities. It is important to note that any Congressman
of the House of Representatives can introduce a bill at any time that the
House is session. The Congressman can place a copy of the bill in
the “hopper” that is placed next to the Clerk of the House’s desk.
must provide for a signed copy of the bill, which may be co-sponsored by other Congressmen.
The bill is then assigned a legislative number by the Clerk and added to the
journal as well as the Congressional Record. The bill will then referred to the
appropriate committee that has jurisdiction over that particular matter or
The United States Census in a key determining factor in the apportionment process for the establishing the number of seats each state is to have in the US House of Representatives. It calculates the total population of each state, which is how the US House of Representation membership is established. However, the process by which actual members are appointed to the US House of Representatives is much more complex.
The United States Constitution guarantees that each state is to have at least one delegate in the US House of Representatives, regardless of what that state's actual population may be. This means that out of the established 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, a total of 385 seats will be apportioned using the proportion of population to the number of representatives. Generally speaking, the more populous a state is, the more seats it is to have in the US House of Representatives.
However, the actual methods used to determine actual representation are based on mathematical applications. Currently, the system employed is known as the equal proportions method. Since the establishment of apportionment was introduced, there have been five methods of apportionment that have been employed in delegating state representation in the US House of Representatives.
Congress is responsible of appointing the method to be used to calculate apportionment. Since 1941, the method used by Congress is the equal proportions method. The equal proportions method has, as its first step, the consideration that the Constitution allows for each state one representative, regardless of actual population numbers. Therefore, fifty of the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are already accounted for. This leaves for 385 to be apportioned.
The equal proportion method, because of its inherent mathematical process, also provides for a listing states to a priority value. In other words, the first seat to be assigned under this method is delegated to California, because it is the most populous state. Seats are distributed one at a time using a formula that uses the ratio of the state population to the geometric mean of the seats that state currently holds in the apportionment process.
For example, under the equal proportion method, California would be assigned the 51st seat, the first seat allocated after the initial fifty. In obtaining the 51st seat, California at this point already has two seats in the US House of Representatives. In the mathematical computation of the formula, California's priority value would decreased, and be positioned last in line for the next seat assignment. The 52nd seat would go to Texas, for the computation would render its priority value highest at this point.
However, California also receives the 53rd because at this point in time, it holds a higher priority value than all of the other states. Therefore, each time a seat is delegated to a state, the priority value is reduced, and states are reordered according the next highest priority value in line.
It has yet to be proven possible to calculate a fair distribution of voting power throughout the states due to the size of electoral districts. The equal proportions method has been determined by Congress as the most viable method.
All methods that have been used for the apportionment of the US House of Representatives have been susceptible to what is known as the apportionment paradox. The apportionment paradox essentially details the possibility of state actually losing a seat in the US House of Representatives due population growths. For example, it is possible for a small state with a rapid population growth to lose a seat to a state with larger experiencing a slower population growth.
The Speaker of the House has managed to garner impressive power
ever since its creation in 1789, under Article I, Section 2 of the United
States Constitution. Originally, the Speaker was not a position that had much
influence. The first Speaker of the House was Frederick Muhlenberg and there was
little that can be attributed to him in the sense of having impacted the political
world of the time. However, it would be Henry Clay that would manage to break
the Speaker’s mold as an ineffectual role to one that had active
responsibilities and duties.
Henry Clay served for several terms as Speaker of the House,
beginning in 1811 and ending 1825. Henry Clay’s service as the Speaker was not
consecutive terms during that period. The main change that Henry Clay brought
to the office of Speaker of the House was that he began to actively participate
in debates, which was not done by any of his predecessors. Furthermore, he
began to use the position of his office and his influence to secure the passage
of certain matters that he supported, such as the War of 1812.
However, Henry Clay’s influence is most evident in the
presidential election of 1824. The Electoral College did not manage to provide
for a majority for any of the candidates up for election during that year.
Therefore, under Constitutional law, the President was to be decided by the
House. Henry Clay supported John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, thus giving
Adams the victory in the end.
Henry Clay proved to deviate as Speaker of the
House in terms of the role’s previous responsibilities or powers. Following
Clay’s run as Speaker, the influence and duties of the role as Henry Clay had affected
them reverted back to its original boundaries for a time.
It would be at the dawning of the 20th Century
that the role of Speaker would develop its power and influence, which was all
started under Henry Clay’s tenure. The Speaker’s power would begin once the
position also entailed being Chairman of the Committee on Rules. After its
structure was reorganized in 1880, it gave the Speaker a very powerful standing
because of the fact that the committee was one of the most powerful of the
House of Representatives.
The rise of power of the Speaker was once again felt under
Thomas Brackett Reed, who took the position starting in 1889. Reed managed to
effectively end the delaying in passing of bills due to minority opposition.
However, it is Joseph Gurney Cannon, who served from 1903 to 1911, who is
considered as the most powerful Speaker of the House in the history of the
Cannon determined what was to be the agenda of the House,
appointed all the members to the various House committees, as well as their
chairmen, and determined what bills were to be heard by which committee.
However, in the year prior to his stepping down, many of the other House members
would be dissatisfied with the control that was exerted by Cannon and many of
his powers would be removed. It would not be until fifteen years later that
Speaker Nicholas Longworth would institute some, but not all, of those powers
The Speaker of the House does not have its roles
in terms of political stance detailed in the Constitution. The position,
however, has throughout history developed into taking a partisan role. The
Speaker has, therefore, also been the head of the majority party in the House
of Representatives. The Speaker is responsible to ensure that the agenda of the
majority party is addressed by helping pass legislation that is in the favor of
the majority party. They exercise their power and influence to the extent of
being able to decide when each bill is to reach the floor.
The power of the Speaker is also evident in the fact that it is
second in line to ascend the Presidential office only behind the Vice
President. If both the President and Vice President were removed from office,
it would be the Speaker that would be next in line to be sworn in as President
and assume the office.
The House of Representatives will, in extenuating circumstances, be subjected to having vacancies in its seats. This may happen due to several
instances, such as death, resignation, or a refusal to serve. Vacancies can
often occur when members of the House get appointed to other positions outside
of Congress, such as election to the Presidential office or to the position of
Vice President. Another circumstance that can occur is if a Representative is
removed from his/her position due to expulsion. Under the
United States Constitution, it is required that the vacancies in the House of
Representatives be filled by special elections.
The provisions for filling vacancies in the House
of Representatives can be found in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.
Clause 4 of Section 2 states: “When Vacancies happen in the Representation
of any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to
fill such Vacancies.”
By Constitutional law, the House of
Representatives is not delegated the responsibility of filling vacancies. The
responsibility and duty to provide for a vacancy rests on the State that has a
vacant seat in their representation in
the House. The
Constitution requires that vacancies in the House be filled by special
elections. However, it is important to note that there are no provisions
regarding filling such vacancies in a temporary fashion, such as with interim
Representatives. Those that are to be considered in such a special election
must also meet all of the eligibility requirements set forth in the
Constitution under Article I, Section 2 (See Also: Election and Qualification
Special elections regarding vacancies in the House
of Representatives are the responsibility of the States. The actual scheduling
of a special election will vary from State to State, as each has its own
regulation and provisions regarding special elections. Furthermore, the time at
which the vacancy occurs can also have an impact on the scheduling of a special
Vacancies in the House occurring during the first session of
Congress are predominantly filled through special election. Many states provide
for a certain amount of time after the vacancy occurs to provide for nomination
procedures and the special election to be held. For the most part, most states
will hold the special election on the next regular election day for convenience
purposes. However, when a vacancy occurs during the second session of Congress,
procedures will differ on a different scale.
Much is dependent on the time the vacancy occurs and when the
next general election is scheduled. Furthermore, another aspect to be
considered is when the term of a current Representative is to be over, which
will, in effect, determine the next general election date. Therefore, it is
possible for a seat in the House of Representatives to be vacant for quite a
period of time. An example would be if a seat becomes vacant three months
before the Representative’s term was to end. Many seats will simply leave the
seat vacant and forgo a special election, for the regular election is already
scheduled to occur in the near future.
The House of Representatives is the lower
house of the United States Congress. To be eligible for the House of
Representatives, the individual must be at
least twenty-five years of age, a citizen
of the United States for at least seven years, and a resident of the State they intend to represent at the time of election. However, it is not required under the Constitution that the member
live within their district.
In comparison to the requirements for
eligibility of a senator, the age and citizenship standards or requirements are
lower for representatives. The reasoning behind this is a result of the Framers
of the Constitution (See Also: Constitutional Convention).
The Fourteenth Amendment does provide for a disqualification clause, stating that
any individual that has sworn the oath to remain loyal and to support the
Constitution of the United States and has been found guilty of aiding enemies
of the State or in rebellious acts against the country will be deemed
disqualified from becoming a Representative. However, it is possible to
overrule this statute if Congress can provide for its consent to deem an
individual eligible for election through a two-thirds vote from both Houses.
Elections for candidates to the House of Representatives occur in every
even-numbered year on Election Day. Election Day is typically held in the
beginning days of the month of November. The candidates are elected from
single-member districts by way of a single-winner voting system.
Candidates are typically nominated through primary elections,
which are normally held in spring through late summer. The Republican and
Democratic parties will typically choose their respective candidates through a
unanimous vote, which are also held in spring or early summer. Those belonging
to independent or third parties will have access to the ballot, but this is
contingent on previous elections and also varies from State to State.
Each candidate, once elected, will serve for two years in
Congress. The Resident Commissioner will serve for a total of four years.
Members also can be subject to being expelled from the House of Representatives
following a majority two-thirds vote.