Closed sessions of the United States House of Representatives

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The United States House of Representatives rarely meets in closed session.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they comprise the legislature of the United States.

Contents

Rules of the House

In the House, Rule XVII, clause 9, governs secret sessions, including the types of business to be considered behind closed doors. A motion to resolve into a secret session may only be made in the House, not in the Committee of the Whole. A Member who offers such a motion announces the possession of confidential information, and moves that the House go into a secret session. The motion is not debatable, but if agreed to, the Member making the motion is recognized under the one-hour rule in closed session.

In the United States House of Representatives, a Committee of the Whole House is a congressional committee that includes all members of the House. In modern practice there is only one such committee, the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, which has original consideration of all bills on the Union Calendar. While assembled the House may resolve itself temporarily into a Committee of the Whole House. Business can then proceed with various procedural requirements relaxed. At the conclusion of business, the committee resolves to "rise" and reports its conclusions or lack of conclusion to the speaker.

Members and staff of both houses are prohibited from divulging information from secret sessions, and all staff are sworn to secrecy. Violations of secrecy are punishable by the disciplinary rules of a chamber. A Member may be subject to a variety of punishments, including loss of seniority, fine, reprimand, censure, or expulsion. An officer or employee may be fired or subject to other internal disciplinary actions.

A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. In parliamentary procedure, it is a debatable main motion that could be adopted by a majority vote. Among the forms that it can take are a stern rebuke by a legislature, a spiritual penalty imposed by a church, or a negative judgment pronounced on a theological proposition. It is usually non-binding, unlike a Motion of no confidence.

The proceedings of a secret session are not published unless the relevant chamber votes, during the meeting or at a later time, to release them. Then, those portions released are printed in the Congressional Record.

<i>Congressional Record</i> official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, published by the United States Government Publishing Office and issued when Congress is in session. Indexes are issued approximately every two weeks. At the end of a session of Congress, the daily editions are compiled in bound volumes constituting the permanent edition. Chapter 9 of Title 44 of the United States Code authorizes publication of the Congressional Record.

If the House decides not to release a transcript, it is ultimately transferred to the Clerk of the House of Representatives for transmittal to the archivist of the United States for preservation at the National Archives and Records Administration. The transcripts may be made available to the public after 30 years (Rule VII, clause 3).

Archivist of the United States chief official of the National Archives and Records Administration

The Archivist of the United States is the chief official overseeing the operation of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The first Archivist, R.D.W. Connor, began serving in 1934, when the National Archives was established as an independent federal agency by Congress. The Archivists served as subordinate officials of the General Services Administration from 1949 until the National Archives and Records Administration became an independent agency again on April 1, 1985. The position is held by David Ferriero, who was named to the office in 2009.

National Archives and Records Administration independent agency of the United States government which preserves and provides access to federal records

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential directives, and federal regulations. The NARA also transmits votes of the Electoral College to Congress.

List of closed sessions of the House since 1825

The House met frequently in secret session until the end of the War of 1812. The House has met in closed session only 6 times since 1825. The following is a full list of those sessions, along with their dates and the reasons they were called:

War of 1812 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire

The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States, the United Kingdom, and their respective allies from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theater of the Napoleonic Wars; in the United States and Canada, it is seen as a war in its own right.

ReasonDate(s)
Electronic Surveillance of Terror Suspects March 13, 2008 (10:11pm–11:09pm) [1]
U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua July 19, 1983
Involvement of Cuba and communist countries in Nicaragua February 25, 1980
Implementing the Panama Canal Act of 1979 June 20, 1979
Trade between the U.S. and Great Britain May 27, 1830
Relations with Indian tribes December 27, 1825

See also

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References

  1. 2008 Congressional Record, Vol. 154, Page H1699