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STANDING RULES AND ORDERS
FOR CONDUCTING BUSINESS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESEN
TATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES,
TOUCHING THE DUTY OF THE SPEAKER. RULE 1. He shall take the chair every day precisely at || the hour to which the House shall have adjourned on the preceding day, shall immediately call the members to order; and, on the appearance of a quorum,* shall cause the Journal of the preceding day to be read.
R. 2. He shall preserve order and decorum; may speak | 9789. to points of order in preference to other members, rising from his seat for that purpose; and shall decide questions of order, subject to an appeal to the House by any two members; [on which appeal no member shall speak more than once, unless by leave of the House.t]
R. 3. He shall rise to put a question, but may state it || 1789. sitting.
R.4. Questions shall be distinctly put in this form, to wit: ) April 7 “ As many as are of opinion that (as the question
Dec 23, 1811.
* A majority of the House. See U. S. Constitution, Article I., Sec. 5.
† Difficulties have often arisen as to a supposed discrepancy between the appeal contemplated in this rule and that referred to in rule 35. There is no discrepancy. The question of order mentioned in the second rule relates to motions or propositions, their applicability or relevancy, or their admissibility on the score of time, or in the order of business, &c. The “call to order” mentioned in rule 35, on which, in case of appeal, there can be no debate, has reference only to “ transgressions of the rules in speaking,” or to indecorum of any kind. See also rule 51, in which debate on an appeal, pending a call for the previous question, is prohibited.
may be) say Ay,'* and after the affirmative voice is ex-
“As many as are of the contrary opinion, say No* If
R. 5. When any motion or proposition is made, the question, “ Will the House now consider it?" shall not be put unless it is demanded by some member, or is deemed necessary by the Speaker.
R. 6. The Speaker shall examine and correct the Journal before it is read. He shall have a general direction of the Hall. He shall have a right to name any member to perform the duties of the Chair, but such substitution shall not extend beyond an adjournment.
R. 7. All committees shall be appointed by the Speaker, unless otherwise specially directed by the House, in
* The U. S. Constitution prescribes Yea and Nay. Art. I., Sec. 5.
+ The manner of dividing the House, as originally established by the rule of April 7, 1789, was, that the members who voted in the affirmative went to the right of the Chair, those in the negative to the left. This was, doubtless, taken from the old practice of the House of Commons in England. The passing of the members to and fro across the House was found so inconvenient, and took up so much time, that the mode of dividing the House was, on the 9th of June, 1789, changed to the present form, the members of each side of the question rising in their seats and being there counted.
# The two counters stand about three feet apart, in front of the SPEAKER'S desk. Every member voting in the affirmative passes between the counters. Also every member in the negative. This plan is both more expeditious and less liable to mistakes than any other method ever devised.
which case they shall be appointed by ballot,* and if,
R. 8. The first-named member of any committee shall || Dec. 20,
R. 9. Any member may excuse himself from serving || April 13, on any committee at the time of his appointment, if he is then a member of two other committees.
* The rule, as originally adopted, April 7, 1789, directed that the Speaker should appoint all committees, unless the number was directed to consist of more than three members; in which case, the ballot was to be resorted to.
The occasion of this rule was this: Mr. John Cotton Smith, of Connecticut, had been chairman of the Committee of Claims for several years, and, on the 5th November, 1804, was reappointed. On the succeeding day he was excused from service on the committee, and his colleague, Samuel W. Dana, was appointed “ in bis stead." The committee considered Mr. Dana its chairman; he declined to act, contending that he was the tail. Being unable to agree, the committee laid the case before the House on the 20th November. Up to this time, there was no rule or regulation as to the head of a committee; the usage had been that the first-named member acted; but it was usage only. The subject was referred to a committee. On the 22d November, 1804, the committee reported, and recommended that the firstnamed member be the chairman ; and in case of his absence, or of his being excused by the House, the committee should appoint a chairman, by a majority of its votes. The House rejected this proposition. The Committee of Claims the next day notified the House that, unless some order was taken in ll the premises, no business could be done by the committee during the session; and thereupon, on the 20th December, 1805, the House adopted the above rule. In this case the Committee of Claims availed itself of the privilege contained in the last clause of the rule, and elected Mr. Dana chairman, much against his wishes.
R. 10. It shall be the duty of a committee to meet on the call of any two of its members, if the chairman be
absent, or decline to appoint such meeting.
a majority of the votes given shall be necessary to an
on the first ballot, the ballots shall be repeated until a Sopt. 15, majority be obtained. [And in all ballotings blanks shall 1837.
be rejected, and not taken into the count in the enumera
tion of votes, or reported by the tellers.] . .
shall vote; in other cases he shall not be required to vote,
R. 13. In all cases where other than members of the
R. 14. In all cases of election by the House of its offi
cers, the vote shall be taken viva voce.
be signed by the Speaker; and all writs, warrants, and
his hand and seal, attested by the Clerk.
* The word here used, in the original formation of the rule, was election. On the 14th January, 1840, it was changed to the word ballot.
+On a very important question, taken December 9, 1803, on an amendment to the Constitution, so as to change the form of voting for President and Vice President, which required a vote of two-thirds, there appeared 83 in the affirmative, and 42 in the negative; it wanted one vote in the affirmative to make the constitutional majority. The Speaker, (Macon,) notwithstanding this prohibition of the rule, claimed and obtained his right to vote, and voted in the affirmative; and it was by that vote that the amendment to the Constitution was carried. The right of the Speaker, as a member of the House, to vote on all questions, is secured by the Constitution; no act of the House can take it from him, when he chooses to exercise it.