Page images

When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, thie executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies Const., I, 2.

No Senator or Representative, shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased, during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office. Const., I, 6.


A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each House may provide. Const., I, 5.

In general the chair is not to be taken till a quorum for business is present; unless, after due waiting, such a quorum be despaired of, when the chair may be taken and the House adjourned. And whenever, during business, it is observed that a quorum is not present, any member may call for the House to be counted, and being found deficient, business is suspended. 2 Hats., 125, 126. [In the Senate.]

Rule III. 1. The Presiding Officer having taken the chair, and a quorum being present, the Fournal of the preceding day shall be read, and any mistake made in the entries corrected. The reading of the Fournal shall not be suspended unless by unanimous consent; and when any motion shall be made to amend or correct the same, it shall be deemed a privileged question, and proceeded with until disposed of.

2. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.


On a call of the House, each person rises up as he is called, and answereth; the absentees are then only noted, but no excuse to be made till the House be fully called over. Then the absentees are called a second time, and if still absent, excuses are to be heard. Ord. House of Commons, 92.

They rise that their persons may be recognized; the voice, in such a crowd, being an insufficient verification of their presence. But in so small a body as the Senate of the United States, the trouble of rising cannot be necessary.

Orders for calls on different days may subsist at the same time. 2 Hats., 72. [In the Senate.)

Rule V-Clause 2. 2. If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate.

SEC. VIII.-ABSENCE. (In the Senate.)

Rule v. 1. No Senator shall absent himself from the service of the Senate without leave.

2. If, at any time during the daily sessions of the Senate, a question shall be raised by any Senator as to the presence of a quorum, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith direct the Secretary to call the roll and shall announce the result, and these proceedings shall be without debate.

3. Whenever upon such roll-call it shall be ascertained that a quorum is not present, a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate ; and pending its execution, and until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, shall be in order.

SEC. IX.-SPEAKER. The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote unless they be equally divided. Constitution, I, 3.

The Senate shall choose their officers, and also a President pro tempore in the absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States. Ib.

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers. Const., I, 2.

When but one person is proposed, and no objection made, it has not been usual in Parliament to put any question to the House; but without a question the members proposing him conduct him to the chair. But if there be objection, or another proposed, a question is put by the Clerk. 2 Hats., 158. As are also questions of adjournment. 6 Grey, 406. Where the House debated and exchanged messages and answers with the King for a week without a Speaker, till they were prorogued. They have done it de die in diem for fourteen days. Chand., 331, 335.

In the Senate, a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice-President, is proposed and chosen by ballot. His office is understood to be determined on the Vice-President's appearing and taking the chair, or at the meeting of the Senate after the first recess. * [In the Senate.)

Rule 1. 1. In the absence of the Vice-President, the Senate shall choose a President pro tempore.

2. In the absence of the Vice-President, and pending the election of a President pro tempore, the Secretary of the Senate, or in his absence the Chief Clerk, shall perform the duties of the Chair.

3. The President pro tempore shall have the right to name in open Senate, or, if absent, in writing, a Senator to perform the duties of the Chair; but such substitution shall not extend beyond an adjournment, except by unanimous consent.

Where the Speaker has been ill, other Speakers pro tempore have been appointed. Instances of this are i H., 4. Sir John Cheyney, and Sir William Sturton, and in 15 H., 6. Sir John Tyrrel, in 1656, January 27; 1658, March 9; 1659, January 13.

Sir Job Charlton ill, Seymour chosen, 1673, February 18. Seymour being ill, Sir Robert Sawyer i Chand., 169, 276, 277.

Not merely pro tempore, chosen, 1678, April 15.

Sawyer being ill, Seymour chosen.

Thorpe in execution, a new Speaker chosen, 31 H. VI, 3 Grey, 11; and March 14, 1644, Sir John Trevor chosen. There have been no later instances. 2 Hats., 161; 4 Inst., 8; L. Parl., 263.

A Speaker may be removed at the will of the House, and a Speaker pro tempore appointed.* 2 Grey, 186; 5 Grey, 134.


The President shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. Const., II, 3.

A joint address of both Houses of Parliament is read by the Speaker of the House of Lords. It may be attended by both Houses in a body, or by a Committee from each House, or by the two Speakers only. An address of the House of Commons only may be presented by the whole House, or by the Speaker, 9 Grey, 473; i Chandler, 298, 301; or by such particular members as are of the privy council. 2 Hats., 278.


Standing committees, as of Privileges and Elections, &c., are usually appointed at the first meeting, to continue through the session. The person first named is generally permitted to act as chairman. But this is a matter of courtesy ; every committee having a right to elect their own chairman, who presides over them, puts questions, and reports their proceedings to the House. 4 Inst., 11, 12; Scob., 9; i Grey, 122.

* The tenure of office of a President pro tempore is distinctly defined by the following resolutions adopted by the Senate January 10, and 12, 1876, which are in the following words:

1. Resolved, That the tenure of the President pro tempore does not expire at the meeting of Congress, after the first recess, the Vice-President not having appeared to take the chair.

2. Resolved, That the death of the Vice-President does not have the effect to vacate the office of President pro tempore.

3. Resorved, That the office of President pro tempore is held at the pleasure of the Senate.

(Sen. Jour. Ist Sess. 44th Cong., 1875–76.) (In the Senate.)

Rule XXIV. 1. In the appointment of the standing committees, the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, shall proceed by ballot to appoint severally the chairman of each committee, and then, by one ballot, the other members necessary to complete the same. A majority of the whole number of votes given shall be necessary to the choice of a chairman of a standing committee, but a plurality of votes shall elect the other members thereof. All other committees shall be appointed by ballot, unless otherwise ordered, and a plurality of votes shall appoint.

2. When a chairman of a committee shall resign or cease to serve on a committee, and the Presiding Officer be authorized by the Senate to fill the vacancy in such committee, unless specially otherwise ordered, it shall be only to fill up the number on the committee.

At these committees the members are to speak standing, and not sitting; though there is reason to conjecture it was forinerly otherwise. D'Ewes, 630, col. 1; 4 Parl. Hist., 440; 2 Hats., 77.

Their proceedings are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the House, Rushti'., part 3, vol. 2, 74; 3 Grey, 401; Scob., 39. Nor can they receive a petition but through the House. 9 Grey, 412.

When a committee is charged with an inquiry, if a member prove to be involved, they cannot proceed against him, but must make a special report to the House; whereupon the member is heard in his place, or at the bar, or a special authority is given to the committee to inquire concerning him. 9 Grey, 523.

So soon as the House sits, and a committee is notified of it, the chairman is in duty bound to rise instantly, and the members to at. tend the service of the House. 2 Nals., 319.

It appears that on joint committees of the Lords and Commons, each committee acted integrally in the following instances : 7 Grey, 261, 278, 285, 338; 1 Chandler, 357, 462. In the following instances it does not appear whether they did or not: 6 Grey, 129; 7 Grey, 213, 229, 321.


The speech, messages, and other matters of great concernment, are usually referred to a Committee of the Whole House (6 Grey, 311)

« PreviousContinue »