House of Representatives of the United States

The House of Representatives of the United States (also: House of Representatives, English United States House of Representatives, often house only) is – in the tradition of the bicameral parliaments , in the British Parliament has its origin – in addition to the Senate one of the two chambers of the Congress of the United States of America . Each state is represented in proportion to its population in the House of Representatives. The voting citizens of the United States elect the members for two years.

The political system of the United States House of Representatives is instrumental in the legislation involved and has some control functions to the President of the United States . It has the sole right of initiative on tax and budget laws, moreover, only this House impeachment proceedings initiated.

Seat of the house is the south wing of the Capitol in Washington DC . The members are called Congressmen and Representatives, where the term Congressmen principle also applies to members of the Senate.

Since 1911 the House of Representatives consists of 435 deputies, each representing the electoral district in which they were elected. The county of Washington, DC and some other territories, not as states apply (such as the politically connected to the U.S. foreign areas of Puerto Rico and Guam ), appoint non-voting delegates to the House of Representatives.


The Constitution of the United States already looked at their creation in 1787 before a House of Representatives. 65 members were originally provided to a first census was conducted in 1790. After 1788 the necessary ratification of the Constitution by nine U.S. states had come about, the first elections were held for the House of Representatives. On 4th Although the constitution in March 1789 entered into force, the quorum of the house was, however, due to lack of physical presence in New York City (the former capital of the United States ) until 1 April of the same year established. The first U.S. Congress, of which the 65-member committee formed a part, adopted the legal basis of the first census. 1790, the House of Representatives, whose seat now after Philadelphia had been moved, still on the same basis (65 members, which were distributed to the interim distribution in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution by the states) were newly elected. The second Congress then adopted on the basis of census results now present a law that redistributed the representation of the Federal States. This foresaw 120 seats after the Hare-Niemeyer method of Alexander Hamilton to distribute. Against this bill put President George Washington ‘s first veto a U.S. history. Thus, Congress then passed a new law, the 105 seats after the D’Hondt method of Thomas Jefferson distributed, this law came with the approval of the president in power and formed the basis for the 1792 elections for the third congress, which met in 1793 . [1]

According to the of Confederation , the Congress functioned as a unicameral , each state had one vote. However, this system proved to be inefficient, so in 1787 the Philadelphia Convention convened, to which all states except Rhode Iceland sent delegates. The question of how to structure the Congress was led to this convention to sharp conflicts:

The Virginia Plan of James Madison saw two chambers in Congress before, the lower house should be elected directly by the people, the House of Lords , however, by the House. This plan was of populous states such as Virginia , Massachusetts and Pennsylvania support because a representation was provided according to population.
The smaller states, however, favored the New Jersey Plan , in which a Congress were provided with only one chamber and a uniform representation of the Federal States.

Finally, the Convention agreed on the Connecticut compromise , according to which the representation was ensured in relation to population in the House of Representatives, while the Senate each state was represented equally.

In the 19th Century dominion regionally rated themes often other majorities in the House than in the Senate. Due to the larger population of the Northern states that were in the House of Representatives southern superior. In the Senate, with its uniform representation of the Federal States, however, there was no similar dominance of the North. Repeated conflicts between the two houses arose on the subject of slavery . An example of this is the proposed law Wilmot Proviso , which abolished slavery in the territories, in the Mexican-American War should ban had been obtained. This application was repeatedly adopted by the House of Representatives, but blocked by the Senate. The disagreements over slavery and other issues continued until the American Civil War (1861-1865). During the war, the southern states, which were an attempt at secession had taken defeated and abolished slavery. After all southern senators except Andrew Johnson had resigned at the beginning of the war, prevailed in the Senate during the civil war between northern and southern no more balance.

In the following years of Reconstruction , there were significant majorities for the Republican Party , which is a large part of the population with the victory of the Union States during the Civil War brought into connection. The reconstruction lasted until about in 1877. The following era, known as the Gilded Age (“Gilded Age”), was characterized by political conflicts. Both the Democrats and the Republicans in the House of Representatives possessed at different times over majorities.

Around 1890, in the tenure of Republican Thomas Brackett Reed as Speaker of the House , the abundance of power of the speaker (ie, the Chairperson, who is elected by the majority party and usually comes from the ranks of their deputies) of the House of Representatives dramatically to grow began. ” Czar Reed, “as his nickname was, tried his views put: The best system is to govern a party and to have to watch the other (” The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch. “). In 1899 the authorities of the majority and minority leader (“Majority Leader” and “Minority Leader”) were created. The minority leader headed the party that was in the minority, but the majority leader was placed under the speaker. In the tenure of Republican Joseph Gurney Cannon from 1903 to 1911 the office of Speaker reached its highest importance. His powers included the chairmanship of the influential Rules Committee (“Rules Committee”) and the appointment of additional committee members. These powers were curtailed in the “Revolution of 1910″ by Democrats and dissatisfied Republicans who opposed Cannon’s authoritarian administration.

During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), the Democrats often possessed more than a two-thirds majority . In the following decade, there were shifting majorities before the Democrats from 1954 to 1995 again held the majority. In the 1970s, the powers of sub-committees have been strengthened in the context of reforms, while committee chairman could be lost their power and now appointed by party leaders. So should the obstruction of some long-time members to be restricted. 1995 the Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives. The new speaker Newt Gingrich led reforms and especially the shortened tenure of committee chairs to three times each two years. However, a large part of his proposed reforms failed in Congress or vetoed by President Bill Clinton or Clinton learned in negotiations with major changes. In the 2006 elections , the Republicans had the leadership of the House back to the Democrats, which is also in the Senate also won a slim majority. Only at the 2010 and 2012 elections, the Republicans again reached the majority.
The Capitol in Washington, DC

As the Senate and the House of Representatives convenes in the Capitol in Washington. On the front side of the Chamber are the lectern and the seat of the speaker. Sit in front of the speaker administrative staff who run the protocol including and possibly detect the presence. The seats of the deputies are arranged in several rows in a semicircle and separated by a wide path in the middle. Traditionally, Democrats sit from the perspective of the speaker right of center left and Republicans. The seating arrangement within the groups depends essentially on the seniority , that duty senior MPs have first right to a seat, the party leadership is sitting in any case forward.

The plenary room with a large U.S. flag directly behind the seat of the speaker and with portraits of George Washington and the Marquis de La Fayette decorated. Until the Second World War the hall was used for funerals, when members had died during her tenure.

Since the 20th Century, the deputies have separate offices in office buildings to relieve the Capitol building. This is at the Cannon House Office Building (opened in 1908), the Longworth House Office Building (opened in 1933) and the Rayburn House Office Building (opened in 1965). The Ford House Office Building , the Congress in the 1980s by the FBI bought houses without members’ offices, but offices of other employees and employee of the House of Representatives.
Members of the House of Representatives

The election of the House of Representatives held in even years figures (ie every 2 years) on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. On this election day, at the same time the elections are for one-third of the Senate every four years, the U.S. presidential elections to take place. Representatives shall be according to the principles of universal, free, equal and secret ballot elected. The choice is immediate, ie, voters elect their representatives directly. Thus the Congress election is in contrast for example to the U.S. presidential election in which voters choose men choose, which in turn elect the president.

It is the relative majority vote : the voter selects a candidate in his constituency and no parties, there is no party lists. Principally to win the candidate with the most votes his constituency; absolute majority is required. However, since the states define the exact election process, there may be deviations from this rule. In Louisiana , for example, an absolute majority is required, no candidate achieves this, it comes down to choices. The rules by which smaller parties (third parties) candidates can establish, vary from state to state. To prevent more than one candidate of a party take each other in a constituency votes, hold the major parties in the modern prefix so that each of them only have one candidate competes in the actual election.

After the first article of the Constitution, the seats are to be distributed in the House of Representatives to the states in proportion to their population. Basis of the calculation is carried out every ten years the census . However, each state at least one delegate.
Electoral districts
The 435 congressional districts

Overall, Americans choose One in 435 electoral districts, each district is just a deputy dispatched to the Parliament. States that have more seats must be divided for the elections in several constituencies. These are usually determined by the parliaments of the states after each census, although they can do that too often. In defining the districts of the principle of electoral equality must be respected, the voice of one voter in a constituency has a similar amount of influence on the outcome of the overall election have as a voter in any other constituency of the state. The Supreme Court has in the case v. Sanders Wesberry found that gross differences in the number of voters between electoral districts in the same state are unconstitutional. Also prohibits the Voting Rights Act that election districts are drawn in a manner that reduces the influence of ethnic minorities.

Despite these regulations, the boundaries of electoral districts are often drawn very arbitrarily, without regard to geography, history, or administrative division. This allows parties to reach, for example, that their followers the followers of the other party are spread over several districts concentrated in one area or choose. This practice is in accordance with the former Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry , as gerrymandering means. As long as there no ethnic minorities are affected, the manipulation of electoral district boundaries for political purposes is not prohibited and is practiced in many states. One result is that in midterm elections less than 10% of the seats have a realistic chance to switch between the parties. Another is that the percentage composition of delegations deputies of any State, often in no way matches the total votes in the state for MPs of different parties voices. A third is that the partisan composition of the House of Representatives does not necessarily reflect the absolute total vote on the land. This was most recently with the election in November 2012 the case: although the Democrats nationally with 59,645,387 reached the majority of the votes of members of Congress votes and the Republicans with 58,283,036 votes clearly distanced, [2] they came only 201 seats, while the Republicans win 234 could. (Two of those seats were vacant after the election through resignations.) After 1914, 1942 and 1952, this was the fourth time in the last 100 years that a party won a majority of votes for their candidates and still could not win a majority of seats .
Distribution of seats according to states
Distribution of seats according to states since 2000

The allocation of seats to each state is based on the Hill-Huntington method and is revised every ten years. To keep the number of seats manageable, Congress has established over the years, limits on the total number of seats. Since 1911 it is located at 435 The only exception was in 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii were after the elections states and each sent an additional deputies in the House of Representatives.

The District of Columbia and the territories have no voting rights in the House of Representatives in accordance with the Constitution. However, Congress has passed laws that allow these areas to appoint non-voting delegates. Delegates have the same speech rights as Members and may vote in committees, but not in the plenary . Currently Send the District of Columbia and the territories Puerto Rico , American Samoa , Guam , Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate. The delegate of Puerto Rico, known as Resident Commissioner, is chosen as a delegate not only for two years, but for four years by the inhabitants.
Seats for the elections from 2012 to 2020
State Seats State Seats State Seats State Seats State Seats
AL 7 AK 1 AZ 9 AR 4 CA 53
CO 7 CT 5 DE 1 FL 27 GA 14
HI 2 ID 2 IL 18 IN 9 IA 4
KS 4 KY 6 LA 6 ME 2 MD 8
MA 9 MI 14 MN 8 MS 4 MO 8
MT 1 NE 3 NV 4 NH 2 NJ 12
NM 3 NY 27 NC 13 ND 1 OH 16
OK 5 OR 5 PA 18 RI 2 SC 7
SD 1 TN 9 TX 36 UT 4 VT 1
VA 11 WA 10 WV 3 WI 8 WY 1
Active and passive voting rights

Can choose any adult American who his (main) residence in one of the 50 U.S. states has or is abroad. In the latter case, he is entitled to vote in the state of his last U.S. residence.

As a Washington DC federal district , so no state in the U.S. is that Americans living there are not entitled to vote and represented in the House of Representatives by only a limited voting delegates. This fact displeased the inhabitants of the city for a long time. Efforts to change this state, yet always failed.

May be chosen every U.S. citizen the 25th Years of age and at least 7 years has the American nationality. A candidate can stand only in his constituency (main) residence for election.

After 14 Amendment are MPs who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and later rebelled against the United States, and later no longer entitled to sit in the House of Representatives. The passage was named after the American Civil War introduced to partisans of the Confederates to exclude can.

The final decision as to whether a future deputy is entitled to sit in the house is up to the House of Representatives itself. It is possible with a two-thirds majority to accept a deputy who does not meet the objective criteria.

MPs are generally referred to as a Congressman or Congresswoman or as a representative. Senators, although members of Congress are, however, not addressed as Congressman. The representatives may use the prefix The Honorable submit their name.

All Member refer an annual salary of $ 165,200, with the speaker, the majority and minority leaders have higher salaries. The Congress shall decide on the salaries of its members. After 27 Amendment to the Constitution , he can only change for the next session and not for ongoing this though.

MPs and delegates (except Puerto Rico) serve for two years. The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico serves for four years.

After the election of deputies to keep their seat for the remainder of its term or until they resign or die. The House of Representatives can also be two-thirds majority may decide to exclude a member of parliament. In the history of the United States of America only five MPs lost their seat so three lost their seats before the Civil War because of their support of the secessionists and two ( Michael Myers in 1980 and James Traficant 2002) due to corruption. The House is officially reprimand its members, but this has no further impact on the formal representatives.
Coat of Arms of the House of Representatives of the United States

The House of Representatives is usually regarded as a party bound than the Senate. In the original concept, the Senate should (whose members were until 1912 rather than directly elected by the parliaments of the individual states) acting as a control of the House, as this should act as a control of the Senate. In this case, however, both chambers have special rights. Only the House of Representatives tax laws can bring the president or accuse of abuse of office .

All ordinary federal laws of the United States House of Representatives and have the U.S. Senate to adopt identical, so there are different than in Germany no distinction in requiring approval and not requiring consent laws. Even the U.S. President must approve the law or at least not contradict, and he puts his veto one, the law can only enter into force when both houses it in a roll-call vote by a two-thirds majority again.

In the event that the House and Senate disagree on a law similar to that in Germany there is a mediation committee, called the Conference Committee .

All finance laws – ie laws that affect government spending or taxes, especially the annual U.S. federal budget – may be introduced only in the House of Representatives, after their adoption, they are treated in the Senate. The Senate has repeatedly tried to challenge this regulation or to ignore fact, it has been the House, however, successfully defended. For details see the main article Legislator (United States) .
Control functions

The House of Representatives has the system of checks and balances less control functions when the Senate. On the other hand, only the House of Representatives impeachment proceedings initiated, which then decides on the Senate.

Impeachment proceedings are against federal officials (including the U.S. President) possible to have committed “treason, corruption or other crimes against the state ‘(Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors). The possible punishment is limited to the loss of office, any further penalties may be imposed only by regular courts. In U.S. history there were 16 such procedures. To successfully start it and refer it to the Senate is a simple majority in the House of Representatives necessary. The conviction requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. If a President accused the President of the Supreme Court leads the negotiation. 1868 Andrew Johnson indicted for trying to thwart laws passed by Congress. At his sentencing the Senate fell one vote. U.S. President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, when, after extensive investigations, it was clear that it was because of his attempts to cover up the Watergate scandal would provide the necessary majorities to the charge in the House and in the Senate for conviction. In the attempt in 1999 Bill Clinton to ask for perjury and obstruction of justice after the disclosure of a sexual affair with impeachment, lacked the requisite majorities. The other cases were lower government officials whose seven times the incumbent was convicted and resigned before the process was complete.

Similarly, the House of Representatives, in the case that in U.S. presidential elections no candidate receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is reached, choose the president from the three candidates with the most votes. The vote may be different than all the other states to vote, the delegation from each state having one vote. So far this has happened twice: in the election years 1800 ( Thomas Jefferson ) and 1824 ( John Quincy Adams ). Should be at a stalemate in the Electoral College to 20 January of the following year, neither the House nor the Senate can agree on a Vice President at a president, would the Speaker of the House appointed acting president.
Organization of the deputies

Representatives are more involved in the hierarchical organization of parliament and parliamentary groups than in the Senate, the party discipline is still less pronounced than in most European parliaments. While the individual senators can set the agenda and the debates almost arbitrarily by different regulations, the House of Representatives are much stronger powers to the speaker of the House, the group tours and the influential Rules Committee ( United States House Committee on Rules ).
John Boehner , since 5 January 2011 Speaker of the House

The party with the most seats in the House of Representatives is referred to as the majority party (Majority Party), the party with the next highest seat number as a minority party (minority party). The majority party is the Speaker of the House (Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is currently headed by John Boehner ), the chairmen of all committees and some other items.

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives shall elect its Speaker. Although the Constitution does not require it, every speaker was also a member yet. In the succession of the president , the speaker comes to the Vice President in second place.

The speaker determines things which committees edit accumulating bills and appoints the members of the Rules Committee and the Conference Committee . When president and spokesman belong to different parties, the speaker often developed for general opposition leader.

The late 19th and early 20th Century saw a dramatic expansion in the powers of the speaker. The rise of the speaker began in the 1890s during the tenure of Republican Thomas Brackett Reed . The importance of the speaker reached its peak during the term of Republican Joseph Gurney Cannon (1903-1911). At this time of the items included the leadership of the powerful Rules Committee and the authority to appoint members of all other committees. This major impact in 1910 but was set by the Democrats and some Republicans unhappy end.

Although the Speaker presides over the House of Representatives, he does not conduct any debate. Usually it delegates this task to other Members. During a debate the President has extensive powers. He may specify, for example, may order in which MPs speak. Decisions and applications can only be introduced if it recognizes the speaker. In addition, the speaker interprets the Rules of Procedure own, but can be overruled by the House.

See also: List of Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States
Role of the parties

In the United States was formed at an early time a two-party system , since the mid-19th Century of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is dominated. The structures of the House of Representatives are tailored to this constellation.

Both parties determine faction leader who according to the majority and minority leaders (Majority Leader and Minority Leader) known. But the majority leader is also within his party clearly second to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, during the minority leader directs the affairs of his group.

In addition, both parties choose a Whip , which is to ensure the party discipline. The Whip Various wizards to the side. Other posts in the party leadership are of importance for the Democrats of the Democratic Caucus Chairman, the Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman, the Assistant to the House Minority (Majority) Leader and the Democratic Campaign Committee Chairman, at the Republicans of the Republican Conference Chair in the order the Republican Conference Vice-Chair of the Republican Conference Secretary, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and the Republican Campaign Committee Chairman.

MPs are often significantly more dependent than senators from their party due to their large number and their short tenure. In general, the atmosphere is considered as the most important party in the House of Representatives bound.

The majority of the work goes to the House of Representatives committees and subcommittees on. This includes above all of the content of draft legislation as well as the detailed oversight of government and federal agencies. Subcommittees are assigned to a particular committee.

The allocation of seats in the committees depends on the strength of the parties in the house. Committee members are formally appointed by the entire House of Representatives, but in fact each party determines its individual members. The fractions are guided by the preferences of the members, with representatives generally enjoy with greater seniority priority.

Committee chairpersons are always provided by the majority party, the minority party is the ranking minority member that after the chairman has the greatest powers of the committee. The committee chairman sets the agenda and can prevent certain bills will also be made available for discussion. Took the Chair those rights in the past often intense, so they have become more cautious in recent decades in general.

By 1975, the post of committee chairman was awarded solely on the basis of the greatest seniority, until 1975, the majority party can determine it, what the party leadership made a significant gain in power. The purpose of these reforms was to bypass the powerful influence of experienced members. 1995 limited the Republicans under Newt Gingrich , the term of office of committee chairs to three two-year periods in a row and also widened as the power of the House and party leaders against each committee chairman from.
Committee of the Whole

The “committee of the whole” ( Committee of the Whole ) occupies a special position. It consists of all members of the House and meets in the Chamber. In contrast to the plenary, he can not finally decide on laws and is less demanding conditions of the quorum of the committee, as well as the debates in practice are often less strictly bound by the rules as in the plenary. It is normally used when an important law to be discussed before the entire House of Representatives, without that it would be far, about to perform a binding vote. The delegate from Washington DC in the committee as opposed to the plenary vote and reliable democratically elect the city for decades, the Committee of the Whole will meet more often if the Democrats have a majority, and the Committee may convene.
Standing Committees

Most of the work in the House of Representatives make the standing committees. Everyone is responsible for a particular policy area. You have full legislative powers, the committees debating every law that falls within its jurisdiction, it can amend or reject it completely so that it never comes to a vote in plenary. Check ministries and federal agencies that fall within its remit and have the right in this context, to question witnesses or gather evidence, which deal with possible misconduct by authorities.

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