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The select committee's authority was limited to drafting and reporting the ordered bill. The House, after debating (and possibly amending) a select committee's bill, would move to final passage. Then, the select committee would be disbanded.

This informal manner of proceeding was possible only so long as the legislative workload of the House remained light. Workload among the numerous select committees was spread unevenly among House members, with some highly regarded House Members being named to many select committees while other House Members were rarely named to such panels. Although the House had created a few standing committees very early in its history,' it began, after 1800, to set up an increasing number of panels as standing committees. Unlike select committees which were named for short times and limited purposes, the standing committees would be permanent legislative units to which proposed bills on specified subjects would automatically be referred.



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The predecessors of the modern Committee on Resources were an integral part of lawmaking, oversight, and stewardship of natural resources since the first decade of the 19th century. As new subjects of concern arose (for example, the orderly sale and settlement of public lands, the organization of government in new territories, and the development of natural resources), the House often established a new committee to review relevant legislation.

In 1803, the purchase of the Louisiana Territory was completed, and the land area of the United States doubled overnight; management of this vast new domain would entail significant new responsibilities for the federal government and for Congress in establishing policy over the new territory. During the Eighth Congress, in January 1805, a proposal to establish a committee on public lands was first introduced. However, as the Eighth Congress was soon to adjourn (in March 1805), most House Members agreed to let the Ninth Congress decide on the need for a new panel. The proposed public lands committee is the earliest House standing committee with responsibility for subjects now within the responsibility of the modern Resources Committee.

Committee on Public Lands Just after the Ninth Congress convened in December 1805, Representative William Findley (DR-PA) “suggested the propriety of instituting a permanent committee to be charged with whatever respects the lands of the United States.” The House approved the proposal on


Among the earliest standing committees were the Committee on Enrolled Bills (created 1789), Committee on Ways and Means (initially a select committee in 1789, made a standing committee in 1802), the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures (created 1795), and the Committee on Elections (created 1794). Only five standing committees were established before 1800. An additional six were created between 1800 and 1810, including the Committee on Public Lands. By

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December 17, 1805.? A majority agreed that House business would be facilitated by creating a standing committee whose decisions on public lands matters would be uniform. From their continuing work on the subject, committee members would become more expert on public lands policy than would a select committee having temporary membership and a short-term mandate. The panel, “styled a Committee Respecting the Lands of the United States," was initially composed of seven members. Representative Andrew Gregg (DR-PA) was named the first chairman of the Public Lands Committee.*


Throughout most of the 19th century, the panel exercised legislative jurisdiction over public lands including irrigation; the public lands of Alaska; certain forest reserves; national parks and reservations; preservation of prehistoric ruins; and some mineral land claims. During the same period, as new policy concerns requiring a federal response emerged, the House added six additional standing committees with jurisdiction over various aspects of natural resources management and Native American people. These committees were the Committee on Private Land Claims; Committee on Indian Affairs; Committee on Territories; Committee on Mines and Mining; Committee on Irrigation of Arid Lands; and Committee on Insular Affairs.

Committee on Private Land Claims On April 27, 1816, the creation of a standing committee to deal with land claims by private citizens was proposed by Representative Thomas Robertson (DR-LA), Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands. His proposal was adopted by the House two days later. Representative Solomon Sharp (DR-KY) was the first chairman. The committee exercised jurisdiction over bills to establish a land court and processes for the adjudication and settlement of private claims to land. The committee was

?Annals of Congress, Ninth Congress, Dec. 16, 1805, p. 285. The DR designation represents the Democratic-Republican Party connected with Thomas Jefferson in opposition to the Federalists. Early 19th century party designations are imprecise and Members' party affiliations often are not indicated in official sources. ’U.S. Congress, House, HindsPrecedents of the House of Representatives of the United States, compiled by Asher C. Hinds (hereafter HindsPrecedents) (Washington: GPO, 1907), vol. IV, § 4194, p. 781. *Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, Ninth Congress, Dec. 16, 1805, p. 285. It was traditional for the size of each standing committee to be specified in the Rules of the House. From Congress to Congress, the authorized size of the different committees might increase or decrease. Beginning in 1975, the House deleted the size of each committee from its Rules and authorized the majority and minority party caucuses to determine the appropriate size of each committee. Representative Findley, the sponsor of the proposal to create the Public Lands Committee, was not named its first chairman because Findley already chaired the Committee on Elections. 'HindsPrecedents, vol. IV, § 4195-4203, pp. 782-785.

abolished in 1911, when its jurisdiction was reassigned to the Committee on Public Lands."

Committee on Indian Affairs The Committee on Indian Affairs was created on December 17, 1821, when the House agreed to the motion of Representative Samuel Moore (DR-PA) to

establish the committee. Representative Moore subsequently was named the new committee's first chairman. The committee had broad jurisdiction over subjects relating to the care, education, and management of American Indian tribes, including the care and allotment of Indian lands. Additionally, the committee was responsible for both general and special bills for claims which were paid out of Indian funds. The Committee on Indian Affairs remained a separate standing committee until 1946 when it was abolished and its jurisdiction assigned to the reorganized Public Lands Committee as part of the Legislative Reorganization Act of that year.


Between 1885 and 1920, the Committee on Indian Affairs was granted authority to report appropriations for the support of government programs relating to Indians. In 1920, as part of a wider legislative and executive branch reorganization relating to federal fiscal management, appropriations jurisdiction was once again consolidated in the Committee on Appropriations.



Committee on Territories The Committee on Territories was established on December 13, 1825, on the motion of Representative James Strong of New York. The committee exercised jurisdiction over measures relating to the organization and reorganization of territorial governments. Its authority extended to measures relating to the admission of new states to the Union. This charge included legislation relating to the general affairs of the territories, including bills governing territorial legislatures and courts. Before the Civil War, the Committee on Territories was also deeply involved in the question of slavery in the territories, and whether a specific territory should be admitted to the Union as a “free” or “slave” state. After the contiguous territories of the United States had been admitted to statehood, the work of the committee largely focused on measures relating to the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, including matters of congressional representation, the review of territorial laws, and municipal matters

’U.S. Congress, House, Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives of the United States, compiled by Clarence Cannon (hereafter Cannon's Precedents), (Washington: GPO, 1935), vol. VII, § 1923, p. 787.

*Hinds ' Precedents, vol. IV, § 4204-4206, p. 785; Cannon's Precedents, vol. VII, § 1934-1938, pp. 791-793.

'Cannon's Precedents, vol. VII, § 1741, p. 717. ''U.S. Congress, House, Journal of the House of Representatives, 19ih Cong., 1" sess., p. 46. The Biographical Directory of the American Congress shows no known party designation for

within the territories." It remained a standing committee until 1946 when it was abolished and its jurisdiction was assigned to the reorganized Committee on Public Lands.

Committee on Mines and Mining The Mines and Mining Committee was created on December 19, 1865, as part of a major committee system reorganization in the House of Representatives. Representative William Higby (R-CA) was its first chairman. The committee acted on measures authorizing an appropriation for the Geological Survey; to procure mining statistics; creating an executive department of mines and mining; and establishing schools of mines and mining and mining experiment stations. It also reported the General Mining Law of 1872 (17 Stat. 91). The committee also considered legislation on mine safety and miner protection. The committee remained in existence until 1946 when it was abolished and its jurisdiction was assigned to the reorganized Committee on Public Lands.


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Committee on Irrigation of Arid Lands The committee was made a standing committee of the House on August 18, 1893, pursuant to H.Res. 3, the resolution adopting the Rules of the House for the 53rd Congress. The resolution was presented to the House by Representative Thomas C. Catchings (D-MS), a member of the Rules Committee. Previously, the Irrigation Committee had been a select committee. Representative William Vanever (R-CA) was named chairman when the committee was elevated to standing committee status. The authority of the committee was largely confined to the use of proceeds from the sale of certain public land for the construction of irrigation projects. The committee also considered measures on the use of materials on forest reservations and other public lands for irrigation works, and the construction of dams across the Yellowstone River.!4 Later, in 1924, the authority of the Irrigation of Arid Lands Committee was expanded to include general land reclamation issues, and its name changed to the Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation. 15

In 1946, the committee was abolished and its jurisdiction was assigned to the reorganized Public Lands Committee.


Committee on Insular Affairs The last of the Resources Committee's original predecessor standing committees was created December 8, 1899. On that day, the House agreed to a resolution offered by Representative James A. Tawney (R-MN) establishing a committee having authority over measures concerning the Philippine Islands, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, which came to the

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United States through the treaty ending the Spanish-American War." Representative Henry L. Cooper (R-WI) was the first chairman of the committee. It exercised nearly exclusive jurisdiction over all subjects, other than revenue and appropriations, relating to the newly acquired islands. Following extensive debate and a vote by the House in 1906, the House confirmed that jurisdiction over Cuba had shifted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs when a Cuban government was formed, despite the fact that jurisdictional language in the rule had remained unchanged." The committee continued until 1946 when it was abolished and its jurisdiction was assigned to the reorganized Public Lands Committee.


As the legislative workload of the House grew, it became necessary for the House to devise methods to assure chamber action on measures the House considered essential. The practice developed in the House of granting to certain committees the “right to report at any time,” by which the House then meant that the reporting committee could demand immediate consideration of its bill by the House. Initially, this right was granted to the Committee on Enrolled Bills and the Committee on Elections. In 1885, the Committee on Public Lands was authorized to report to the House at any time on matters relating to the “forfeiture of land grants to railroads and other corporations, bills preventing speculation in public lands, and bills for the reservation of the public lands for the benefit of actual and bona fide settlers.” The Committee on Territories was, at the same time, authorized to report to the House at any time on the admission of new states to the Union."


This right was retained under House Rules by these committees, and their successor, the Committee on Public Lands and, later, the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. In 1974, as part of the Committee Reform Amendments of that year, the House removed from the Interior Committee (and from the Ways and Means Committee) the right to report to the House at any time.

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The control of federal expenditures has always been an important issue within Congress. Until 1865, the Committee on Ways and Means had

"Congressional Record, vol. 33, Dec. 8, 1899, p. 159. "Hinds Precedents, vol. IV, § 4213-4215, pp. 788-789. 18 HindsPrecedents, vol. IV, $4621, pp. 950-952. " U.S. Congress, House, Constitution, Jefferson's Manual, and Rules of the House of Representatives, 107h Cong., H. Doc. 106-320, 106" Cong., 2nd sess., compiled by Charles W. Johnson, Parliamentarian (Washington: GPO, 2001), p. 446. Hinds' and Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, v. IV, 84621, 4633; vol. VIII, 82251. Deschler's Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives, vol. 4, ch. 17, & sec. 63. Absent this right, a modem committee, such as the Resources Committee, must now use other procedural options for obtaining floor action on its bills, generally by obtaining a special rule from the Rules Committee, by offering a motion to

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