- January 3rd
- Every two years on odd numbered years
Follows November elections
- Every other January, 435 members convene
- Roll call and swearing in on first day
- Speaker of the House is chosen & takes oath
- Continuous body without interruption since 1789
- 1/3 of the members up for election every two years
- Brief and routine first day for the Senate
State of the Union Message
- Joint committee of House and Senate wait to hear from President
- President discusses domestic and foreign affairs, specific legislation and ideas, and makes recommendations for future legislation
- Speaker – Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5
- Senate President – Article 1, Section 3, Clause 4
- Most important and powerful role in Congress
- Not Constitutionally required to be a House member
- Primarily preside and keep order
President of the Senate
- Role is assigned to the Vice President
- Cannot debate or speak
- ONLY votes to break a tie
- President pro tempore – serves in Vice President’s absence
- Elected by Senate and member of majority party
- Congress is a central policy-making body
- Congress has a partisan makeup
- A closed meeting of members of each party in each house
- Meets before (and sometimes during) a session
- Relates to party organization
- One each for the majority and minority parties
- Most important in Congress after the speaker
- Selected by party colleagues
- Legislative strategists
- Assisted by whips
- Members who head standing committees in each chamber
- Chosen from among the majority party at the caucus
- Assorted responsibilities
- Unwritten custom
- States that the most important posts will be held by those who have the longest service records in congres
- Ignores ability and discourages new, younger members
- Defenders believe it better to have powerful, more experienced committee heads
- GOP – In 1995, it was decided that no chairman can serve more than 6 years at a post
Video to help explain the leadership:www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8urcMLGFyU
Link to leadership in the House: www.house.gov/leadership
Link to leadership in Senate: www.senate.gov/senators/leadership.htm
Mr. Goudy's notes below
Opening Day in the House
Every other January, the 435 men and women who have been elected to the House come together at the Capitol to begin a new term.
The clerk of the House in the preceding term presides, or chairs, at the beginning of the first day’s session.
Opening day in the House of Representatives follows a traditional routine of votes and speeches. The House chooses its Speaker and other officers for the coming term.
After the Speaker is elected, the House elects its clerk, sergeant at arms, chief administrative officer, and chaplain.
The House then adopts the rules that will govern its proceedings through the term.
Finally, members of the 19 permanent committees of the House are appointed by a floor vote.
Opening Day in the Senate
The Senate is a continuous body.
Only one third of the seats are up for election every two years.
On opening day, newly elected and reelected members must be sworn in, vacancies in Senate organization and one committees must be filled, and a few other details attended to.
state of the Union Message
When the Senate is notified that the House is organized, a joint committee of the two is appointed and instructed to wait for the President and inform him that each House is assembled and are waiting further instruction.
Within a few weeks, the President delivers the annual State of the Union message.
Members of both of the houses, the members of the Cabinet, the Supreme Court justices, the foreign diplomatic corps, and other dignitaries, assemble in the House chamber to listen.
In the State of the Union address, the President reports on the state of the nation as he/she sees it, in both domestic and foreign policy terms.
In the address, the President lays out the broad shape of the policies his administration will follow and the course he has charted for the nation.
With the conclusion the President’s speech, the joint session is adjourned and each house turns to the legislative business before it.
The Presiding Officers
Speaker of the House
The Constitution provides for the presiding officers of each house- the Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate.
Of the two positions, The Speaker of the House is by far the more important and more powerful within the halls of Congress.
The Speaker is both the elected presiding officer of the House and the acknowledged leader of its majority party.
The House has always chosen the Speaker from among its own members.
Nearly all of the Speaker’s powers revolve around two duties: to preside and to keep order.
The Speaker presides over most sessions of the House.
No one may speak without being recognized by the Speaker.
The Speaker interprets and applies the rules, refers bills to committee, rules on points of order, puts motions to vote, and decides the outcome of most votes taken in the House.
The Speaker can be overridden by a vote of the House.
The Speaker names members of all select committees and signs all bills passed by the House.
The Speaker may also debate and vote on any matter before the House.
He/She follows the Vice President in the line of succession to the presidency.
President of the Senate
The President of the Senate , the Senate’s presiding officer, is not a member of the body over which he presides.
The Constitution assigns the office to the Vice President.
The President of the Senate does have the usual powers of a presiding officer, but cannot take the floor to speak or debate and may vote only to break a tie.
In the Vice President’s absence, the president pro tempore may serve.
The pro tempore is usually the longest serving member of his/her party.
The Party Caucus
The party caucus is a closed meeting of the members of each party in the house.
It meets just before Congress convenes and occasionally during a session.
The caucus deals mostly with matters of party organization, such as the selection of the party’s floor leaders and questions of committee membership.
The policy committee, composed of the party’s top leadership, acts as an executive committee for the caucus.
Next to the Speaker, the majority and minority floor leaders in the House and Senate are the most important officers in Congress.
Floor leaders are party officers, picked for their posts by their party colleagues.
They are legislative strategists.
They try to carry out the decisions of their parties’ caucuses and steer floor action to their parties’ benefit.
Each of them is also the chief spokesman for his/her party in his/her chamber.
The two floor leaders in each house are assisted by party whips.
Whips are assistant floor leaders.
A number of whips serve in the House, and the floor leaders in both houses have a paid staff.
The whips check with party members and tell the floor leader which members, how many votes, can be counted on in any particular matter.
The seniority rule is, in fact, an unwritten custom.
The seniority rule provides that the most important posts, in both the formal and the party organization, will be held by those party members with the longest records of service in Congress.
The rule is applied most strictly to the choice of committee chairmen.
There are many critics of the seniority rule who insist that the seniority system ignores ability and discourages younger members.
Defenders of the seniority rule argue that it ensures that a powerful and experienced member will head each committee.
Opponents have gained some ground in recent years. Thus, the House Republican Conference now picks several GOP members of House committees by secret ballot.
When the Senate's Republican caucus wants party members to vote for a bill, the person who determines how many votes can be counted on is the
a. senior senator. c. floor leader.
b. policy-committee chairperson. d. whip.
Committee chairpersons usually are chosen
a. by the presiding officers. c. on the basis of ability.
b. by the whips. d. on the basis of seniority.
In the Vice President's absence, the presiding officer of the Senate is the
a. Dean of the Senate. c. president pro tempore.
b. majority floor leader. d. Speaker of the Senate.
Answers: D / D / C