|Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives|
Seal of the United States House of Representatives
|Office of the Parliamentarian|
|Appointer||Speaker of the House|
|Term length||Serves at the pleasure of the Speaker|
|Constituting instrument||2 USC Ch. 9C|
|First holder||Lewis Deschler|
|This article is part of a series on the|
| United States House|
| History of the United States|
House of Representatives
|Politics and procedure|
The Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives manages, supervises, and administers its Office of the Parliamentarian, which is responsible for advising presiding officers, Members, and staff on procedural questions under the U.S. Constitution, rule, and precedent, as well as for preparing, compiling, and publishing the precedents of the House.
The Parliamentarian is appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of fitness to perform the duties of the position.Advice from the Parliamentarian's Office is confidential upon request.
The Parliamentarian, or an assistant parliamentarian, usually sits or stands to the right of the Speaker or Speaker pro tempore (or the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, when the House has resolved into that forum) and advises that presiding officer how to respond to such things as parliamentary inquiries, points of order, and the ordinary workings of the procedures of the House.
The legitimacy of parliamentary procedure in the House depends on nonpartisan procedural advice that is transparently consistent. The Parliamentarian achieves the requisite consistency by fidelity to precedent, and the requisite transparency by publication. The publications of the Office of the Parliamentarian range from a biennial deskbook to a decennial hornbook to a perennial series of formal precedents. The House Rules and Manual – comprising the Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual, and the rules of the House, each with parliamentary annotations – is the biennial publication that ensures that legislative practitioners have access to the most up-to-date citations of authority on legislative and parliamentary procedure. As such it might be the single most useful tool a legislative practitioner could have.
Probably the most important job of the Office of the Parliamentarian in the long term is the compilation of the precedents. The commitment of the House to the principle of stare decisis in its procedural practice – the idea that fidelity to precedent cultivates levels of consistency and predictability that, in turn, foster fairness in the resolution of questions of order – depends implicitly on the compilation of precedents. Being rigorous about what constitutes actual legal precedent and striving to apply pertinent precedent to each procedural question engenders consistency, and therefore predictability, in procedural practice and, consequently, enhances the perceived legitimacy and fairness, and therefore the integrity, of the proceedings of the House.
The position of parliamentarian was previously known as the "Clerk at the Speaker's table," in which capacity the noted parliamentarian Asher Hinds served as an adviser to the powerful Speakers "Czar" Reed and "Uncle Joe" Cannon, who used precedent and procedure to facilitate their assertive management of House business (both were excoriated by opponents as "czarlike" or "tyrannical").
A Parliamentarian has been appointed by the Speaker in every Congress since 1927. In the 95th Congress the House formally established an Office of the Parliamentarian to be managed by a nonpartisan Parliamentarian appointed by the Speaker (2 U.S.C. § 287). The compilation and distribution of the precedents of the House are authorized by law (2 U.S.C. § 28, et seq.). The current Parliamentarian is Jason A. Smith. He succeeds Thomas J. Wickham Jr. (2012-20), John V. Sullivan (2004–12), Charles W. Johnson III (1994–2004), William Holmes Brown (1974–94), and Lewis Deschler (1928–74).
The speaker of the United States House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. The office was established in 1789 by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House of Representatives, and is simultaneously the House's presiding officer, de facto leader of the body's majority party, and the institution's administrative head. Speakers also perform various other administrative and procedural functions. Given these several roles and responsibilities, the speaker usually does not personally preside over debates. That duty is instead delegated to members of the House from the majority party. Neither does the speaker regularly participate in floor debates.
Cloture, closure or, informally, a guillotine, is a motion or process in parliamentary procedure aimed at bringing debate to a quick end. The cloture procedure originated in the French National Assembly, from which the name is taken. Clôture is French for "the act of terminating something". It was introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom by William Ewart Gladstone to overcome the obstructionism of the Irish Parliamentary Party and was made permanent in 1887. It was subsequently adopted by the United States Senate and other legislatures. The name cloture remains in the United States; in Commonwealth countries it is usually closure or, informally, guillotine; in the United Kingdom closure and guillotine are distinct motions.
Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, rules, and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies.
The United States Constitution provides that each "House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings," therefore each Congress of the United States, upon convening, approves its own governing rules of procedure. This clause has been interpreted by the courts to mean that a new Congress is not bound by the rules of proceedings of the previous Congress.
Suspension of the rules in the United States Congress is the specific set of procedures within the United States Congress that allows for the general parliamentary procedure of how and when to suspend the rules.
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.
Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Congress that expedites the passage of certain budgetary legislation in the United States Senate. The Senate filibuster effectively requires a 60-vote super-majority for the passage of most legislation in the Senate, but reconciliation provides a process to prevent the use of the filibuster and thereby allow the passage of a bill with simple majority support in the Senate. The reconciliation procedure also exists in the United States House of Representatives, but reconciliation has had a less significant impact on that body.
The nuclear option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override a standing rule of the Senate, such as the 60-vote rule to close debate, by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules. The option is invoked when the majority leader raises a point of order that contravenes a standing rule, such as that only a simple majority is needed to close debate on certain matters. The presiding officer denies the point of order based on Senate rules, but the ruling of the chair is then appealed and overturned by majority vote, establishing new precedent.
United States federal administrative law encompasses statutes, common law, and directives issued by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Executive Office of the President, that together define the extent of powers and responsibilities held by administrative agencies of the United States government. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the U.S. federal government cannot always directly perform their constitutional responsibilities. Specialized powers are therefore delegated to an agency, board, or commission. These administrative governmental bodies oversee and monitor activities in complex areas, such as commercial aviation, medical device manufacturing, and securities markets.
A parliamentary authority is a book of rules on conducting business in deliberative assemblies. A group generally creates its own rules and then adopts such a book to cover meeting procedure not covered in its rules. Different books have been used by organizations and by legislative assemblies.
The Office of Interparliamentary Affairs is an office of the United States House of Representatives that is responsible for working with "parliamentarians, officers, or employees of foreign legislative bodies" to organize official visits to the House of Representatives.
Clarence Andrew Cannon was a Democratic Congressman from Missouri serving from 1923 until his death in Washington, D.C. in 1964. He was a notable parliamentarian and chaired the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. He is the longest-serving member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Missouri.
A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, is the first American book on parliamentary procedure. As Vice President of the United States, Jefferson served as the Senate's presiding officer from 1797 to 1801. Throughout these four years, Jefferson worked on various texts and, in early 1800, started to assemble them into a single manuscript for the Senate's use. In December 1800 he delivered his manuscript to printer Samuel Harrison Smith, who delivered the final product to Jefferson on 27 February 1801. Later, the House of Representatives also adopted the Manual for use in its chamber.
The Parliamentarian of the United States Senate is the official advisor to the United States Senate on the interpretation of Standing Rules of the United States Senate and parliamentary procedure.
Floyd Millard Riddick was a Parliamentarian of the United States Senate from 1964 to 1974, and is most famous for developing Riddick's Senate procedure. He sat immediately below the presiding officer in the Senate chamber, providing information on precedents and advising other senators on parliamentary procedure. He is famous for discussions of the censures of Joseph McCarthy and Thomas Dodd, the contested election between John A. Durkin and Louis Wyman, and the preparations for a planned impeachment trial of Richard Nixon. He is also famous for advocating the change in the rules of cloture.
Title 2 of the United States Code outlines the role of Congress in the United States Code.
The history of parliamentary procedure refers to the origins and evolution of parliamentary law used by deliberative assemblies.
The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, with the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national bicameral legislature of the United States.
Alan Scott Frumin is a former Parliamentarian of the United States Senate.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a law that was enacted by the United States Congress under House Speaker Newt Gingrich as Subtitle E of the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on March 29, 1996. The law empowers Congress to review, by means of an expedited legislative process, new federal regulations issued by government agencies and, by passage of a joint resolution, to overrule a regulation. Once a rule is thus repealed, the CRA also prohibits the reissuing of the rule in substantially the same form or the issuing of a new rule that is substantially the same "unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule". Congress has a window of time lasting 60 legislative days to disapprove of any given rule by simple majority vote; otherwise, the rule will go into effect at the end of that period.