Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives

Last updated
Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives
Incumbent
Timothy Paul Blodgett

since January 11, 2021
AppointerElected by the House
Term length Two years
Inaugural holderJoseph Wheaton
Website www.house.gov/the-house-explained/officers-and-organizations/sergeant-at-arms

The Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The Sergeant at Arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the House.

Contents

Duties

In one of its first resolutions, the 1st United States Congress (April 14, 1789) established the role of Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives.

Security

As the chief law enforcement officer of the House, the Sergeant at Arms is responsible for security in the House wing of the United States Capitol, the House office buildings, and on adjacent grounds. Under the direction of the Speaker of the House or other presiding officer, the Sergeant at Arms plays an integral role in maintaining order and decorum in the House chamber.

The Sergeant at Arms is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of Congress, the congressional staff, visiting dignitaries, and tourists. Towards this end, the Sergeant at Arms works in concert with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol. These three officials, along with the Chief of the Capitol Police ex officio , comprise the Capitol Police Board.

In 2015, at a House committee hearing chaired by Candice Miller, the then House Sergeant at Arms said that he gave considerable time to ensuring House members' safety and their staff, and visitors to the House, including threat and intelligence monitoring and analysis by reviewing threats and intelligence directed to House members. He said that he monitored events at the Capitol complex, such as demonstration activity, committee hearings, head of state visits, and major events taking place on the complex. He said that on a daily basis, he dealt with the Senate Sergeant at Arms about security for the Capitol complex. [1]

Protocol and ceremony

Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announces President Barack Obama at the 2011 State of the Union. Livingood State of the Union 2011.jpg
Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announces President Barack Obama at the 2011 State of the Union.

Through custom and precedent, the Sergeant at Arms performs a number of protocol and ceremonial duties. Among these duties are to lead formal processions at ceremonies such as presidential inaugurations, joint sessions of Congress (such as the State of the Union address, prior to 2007), formal addresses to the Congress, greeting and escorting visiting foreign dignitaries, conveying Articles of Impeachment from the House to the Senate, and to supervise congressional funeral arrangements. In this capacity, the Sergeant at Arms is most famous for announcing the arrival of the President, a responsibility that he took over from the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives when the latter position was abolished in 1995. Custom dictates that he announce the arrival of the Supreme Court, the President's cabinet, and finally the President by proclaiming, "Madam (or Mister) Speaker, the President of the United States!"

Unruliness

For daily sessions of the House, the Sergeant at Arms carries the silver and ebony Mace of the United States House of Representatives in front of the speaker in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal to the speaker's own right. When the body resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, the Sergeant at Arms moves the mace to a lowered position, more or less out of sight. In accordance with the Rules of the House, on the rare occasions when a Member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, on order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.

Other

The Sergeant at Arms also performs administrative services in support of the Members, staff, and visitors associated with the security and other operations of the House.

If a quorum is not present, those Representatives who are present may vote to order the Sergeant at Arms to try to round up absent Representatives.

In addition to serving on the Capitol Police Board, the Sergeant at Arms served with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol on the Capitol Guide Board. This board oversaw the Capitol Guide Service, which provided tours of the Capitol to visitors and special services to tourists.

Deputy Sergeants at Arms

The Deputy Sergeants at Arms act as assistants to the Sergeant at Arms. The Sergeant at Arms has the duty of making the important decisions under his/her power, while the Deputy Sergeant at Arms often executes the decisions. The Deputy Sergeant at Arms that served under Paul Irving was Timothy Blodgett.

List of Sergeants at Arms

Sergeant at ArmsState or TerritoryTerm of ServiceCongress
Joseph Wheaton Rhode Island May 12, 1789 – October 27, 1807 1st9th
Thomas Dunn Maryland October 27, 1807 – December 5, 1824 10th18th
John O. Dunn District of Columbia December 6, 1824 – December 3, 1833 18th22nd
Thomas Beverly Randolph Virginia December 3, 1833 – December 15, 1835 23rd24th
Roderick Dorsey Maryland December 15, 1835 – June 8, 1841 24th27th
Eleazor M. Townsend Connecticut June 8, 1841 – December 7, 1843 27th28th
Newton Lane Kentucky December 7, 1843 – December 8, 1847 28th30th
Nathan Sargent Vermont December 8, 1847 – January 15, 1850 30th31st
Adam J. Glossbrenner Pennsylvania January 15, 1850 – February 3, 1860 31st36th
Henry William Hoffman Maryland February 3, 1860 – July 5, 1861 36th37th
Edward Ball Ohio July 5, 1861 – December 8, 1863 37th38th
Nehemiah G. Ordway New Hampshire December 8, 1863 – December 6, 1875 38th43rd
John G. Thompson Ohio December 6, 1875 – December 5, 1881 44th46th
George W. Hooker Vermont December 5, 1881 – December 4, 1883 47th
John P. Leedom Ohio December 4, 1883 – December 2, 1889 48th50th
Adoniram J. Holmes Iowa December 2, 1889 – December 8, 1891 51st
Samuel S. Yoder Ohio December 8, 1891 – August 7, 1893 52nd
Herman W. Snow Illinois August 7, 1893 – December 2, 1895 53rd
Benjamin F. Russell Missouri December 2, 1895 – December 4, 1899 54th55th
Henry Casson Wisconsin December 4, 1899 – April 4, 1911 56th61st
Uriah Stokes Jackson Indiana April 4, 1911 – June 22, 1912 62nd
Charles F. Riddell Indiana July 18, 1912 – April 7, 1913 62nd
Robert B. Gordon Ohio April 7, 1913 – May 19, 1919 63rd65th
Joseph G. Rodgers Pennsylvania May 19, 1919 – December 7, 1931 66th71st
Kenneth Romney Montana December 7, 1931 – January 3, 1947 72nd79th
William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949 80th
Joseph H. Callahan Kentucky January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953 81st82nd
William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1953 – July 7, 1953 83rd
Lyle O. Snader Illinois July 8, 1953 – September 15, 1953 83rd
William R. Bonsell Pennsylvania September 15, 1953 – January 5, 1955 83rd
Zeake W. Johnson, Jr. Tennessee January 5, 1955 – September 30, 1972 84th92nd
Kenneth R. Harding Virginia October 1, 1972 – February 29, 1980 92nd96th
Benjamin J. Guthrie Virginia March 1, 1980 – January 3, 1983 96th97th
Jack Russ [2] Maryland January 3, 1983 – March 12, 1992 98th102nd
Werner W. Brandt Virginia March 12, 1992 – January 4, 1995 102nd103rd
Wilson "Bill" Livingood Virginia January 4, 1995 – January 17, 2012 104th112th
Paul D. Irving Florida January 17, 2012 – January 7, 2021 112th117th
Timothy Paul Blodgett New York January 11, 2021 – 117th

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References

  1. Transcript, House Administration Committee hearing, June 3, 2015.
  2. Ex-House Sergeant-at-Arms Sentenced to 2 Years : Scandal Dec 18, 1993 latimes.com