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Previously to the Fifty-third Congress several of the above. named committees, viz: On Reform in the Civil Service, on Election of President, etc., on Ventilation and Acoustics, on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic, on Irrigation of Arid Lands, and on Immigration and Naturalization were not standing committees; but were authorized by an order or resolution adopted independently of the rules. The functions of these committees being precisely analogous to those of the standing committees, this formal distinction is now discontinued.


The rule adopted April 17, 1789, provided that the Speaker should appoint all committees consisting of not more than three members; but if exeeeding that number they were selected by ballot. By the rule as modified January 13, 1790, the Speaker appointed all committees unless otherwise specially directed, in which latter event they were chosen by ballot.

The mode of selecting committees by ballot has for many years not been resorted to, the Speaker being now required, by Rule X, to appoint the standing and select committees. It is usual for the House to adjourn over for two or three days at a time to enable him to make the appointments.

Before a return be made a Member elected may be named of a committee, and is to every extent a Member, except that he can not vote until he is sworn.—Manual, p. 112. While this is undoubtedly correct as a statement of general parliamentary law, it has not been a common practice in the House to appoint a Member on a committee until he has been sworn, although there have been instances of the kind; nor can he refer a bill or perform any other legislative act.


No committee except the Committee on Rules (Rule XI, clause 58) has authority to sit during the sitting of the House without first obtaining leave therefor, but upon the statement to the House by a member of a committee (usually the chairman) that it is important to the dispatch of public business that they should have such leave, it is usually granted, especially near the close of the session. It is quite common to grant this privilege to select committees when organized.

A resolution authorizing a committee to sit during a recess, and instructing such committee in certain respects, held not to be a change of the rules.—Journal, 2, 45, p. 132.

Committees may be appointed to sit during the recess by adjournment, but not by prorogation. Neither House can continue any portion of itself in any parliamentary function be. yond the end of the session without the consent of the other branch. When done it is by a bill constituting them commissioners for that particular purpose.- Manual, p. 184.

This has been construed (and in view of the distinction which exists between a “session” of Parliament and of Congress very properly so) not to restrain a committee of the House, with the leave of the House, from sitting during the recess between a first and second session of Congress.-( See Journal, 1, 32, p. 1119.)

A committee meet when and where they please, if the House has not ordered time and place for them; but they can only act when together, and not by separate consultation and consent, nothing being the report of a committee but what has been agreed to in committee actually assembled.-Manual, p. 139.

A majority of the committee constitutes a quorum for business.- Manual, p. 139. But it is not necessary that the committee shall be full when a paper is acted upon.Journal 1, 34, p. 1144.

Nor is it even necessary that every member shall have been notified of an adjourned meeting, if it shall appear that at such meeting a quorum was present, and that a majority of such quorum authorized a report to be made.-Ibid., pp. 1433, 1434.

The Clerk may deliver the bill to any member of the com mittee, but it is usual to deliver it to him who is first named.Manual, p. 139. In the House of Representatives, the longsettled practice has been, where the committee have a regular place of meeting, as is the case with all standing committees, for the Clerk to take to the committee room and deposit there all matters referred to said committee, and either make an entry of the same in the docket of the committee, or leave them with the clerk, taking his receipt therefor; and when they have no committee room, as is the case with some of the select committees, to deliver the matter referred to the chairman, and in his absence to the next member of the committee.

It is not competent for the House to instruct a committee to amend a bill in a manner that the House itself can not amend it.—Journal, 2, 35, p. 389. Journal, 1, 49, 703.

It is not in order to move to commit a bill to a committee with instructions to insert what the House has just voted to strike out.-Congressional Record, 1, 49, p. 7613.

The committee have full power over the bill or other paper, except that they can not change the title or subject.—Manual, p. 139.

It is entirely competent under the rules and practice for the committee to amend the title, but they can not, of course, change the subject of the bill.

There is no rule of the House which prohibits a committee from reporting a bill providing for several distinct works and objects, such as a bill providing “for sundry light-houses and other aids to navigation.” Mr. Dockery, chairman. Record 1, 52, p. 6172, 6173.


A committee having leave to report at all times may report in part at different times.—Journal, 1, 27, p. 104.

The right to report at any time carries with it the right to consider the matter when reported (Journal, 1, 32, p. 195), and where authority is given to a committee to make a report at a particular time the right follows to consider the report when made.—Journal, 1, 32, p. 1409.

It is not competent for a committee to report a bill where the subject matter has not been referred to them by the House, by the rules, or otherwise.Journal, 1, 31, p. 590.

A committee has no right to submit any report to the House unless it relates to a subject over which it has jurisdiction by the rules of the House, or by a reference of the subject to it by order of the House.Journal, 1, 48, p. 1108.

The report being made, the committee is dissolved, and can act no more without a new power. But it may be revived by a vote, and the same matter recommitted to them.Manual, p. 142. This evidently refers to a select committee specially appointed for a particular object, and, under the practice of the House, a motion to recommit, decided affirmatively, has the effect of reviving the committee. (See Journal, 2, 37, p. 874; 3, 37, pp. 487-489.)

If it is disputed that a report has been ordered to be made by a committee, the question of reception must be put to the House.Journal, 2, 27, p. 1410.

It is presumed that a report made, or motion submitted by a member, in behalf of a committee, when it is called, bas been authorized by such committee. The question of such authority is a question of fact, not for the Speaker but for the committee itself to decide.-Congressional Record, 2, 49, p. 43.

A bill having been recommitted to a committee with leave to report at any time, and the same being immediately reported by its chairman, is subject to the point that the committee have not considered it.—Journal, 2, 50, p. 536.

It was held not competent to produce in the House the minutes of a committee to show whether or not authority was given to reportor move a certain proposition. -Congressional Record, 2, 51, p. 647.

The chairman of a committee is its official organ, and his action in behalf of the committee is presumed to be authorized; but this presumption may be negatived by admitted facts showing a want of such authority.-Congressional Record, 2, 51, p. 617.

It was also held that a bill recommitted, with instruction to report forth with, may be reported immediately by the chairman without formal action by•the committee.-Congressional Record, 2, 51, p. 3508.

It appearing that a committee had ordered a report to be made in a pending investigation, it was held that the House had a right to institute an inquiry respecting the failure to carry out such order.-Congressional Record, 2, 51, p. 1789.

It is not in order for a committee to move to suspend the rules and pass a resolution which has not been referred to it, and of which it has not acquired jurisdiction.-Congressional Record, 1, 51, p. 8773.

After debate has commenced, or after a motion to suspend the rules has been seconded, it is too late to make the point that the committee had not authorized such motion.—Congressional Record, 2, 51, p. 489.

Authority to make a motion in behalf of a committee must be given by the committee. It is not sufficient that members of the committee have individually consented.-Congressional Record, 1, 51, p. 1405.

A minority of the committee cannot make a report, a minority , not being the committee.—Journal, 1, 24, p. 262. The common practice, however, is to permit the minority to submit their views in writing, which are usually printed and considered with the majority report. And when such views are accompanied by a resolution or bill, such resolution or bill is not thereby brought before the House for its action, but must be submitted by some Member.—Congressional Globe, 1, 31, p. 1345. (See also Minority, Views of.)

A Member reporting the measure under consideration from a committee, may open and close the debate (Rule XIV, clause 3) and, under the invariable practice, he is entitled to be recognized, notwithstanding another Member may have arisen first. and addressed the Chair.Journal 3, 17, p. 211. (See Debate, Previous Question, and Recognition.)

The proceedings of a committee are not to be published, as they are of no force till confirmed by the House.—Manual, p. 122.

It is not in order to allude on the floor to anything that has taken place in committee, unless by a written report sanctioned by a majority of the committee.—Journals, 1, 26, p. 418; 1, 31, p. 393.

If a report be recommitted before agreed to in the House, what has passed in committee is of no validity; the whole question is again before the committee, and a new resolution must again be moved, as if nothing had passed.—Manual, p. 142.

The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or a chairman of a Committee of the Whole, or of any committee of either house of Congress, is empowered to administer oaths to witnesses in any case under their examination.—R. S., sec. 101.

Any Member of either house of Congress may administer oaths to witnesses in any matter depending in either house of Congress of which he is a member, or any committee there.of.Stats. at L., vol. 23, p. 60.

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