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The United States House of Representatives

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posted on Jul, 9 2006 @ 03:35 PM
Any natural born citizen or a naturalized citizen for 7 years, and a resident of the state from which he or she is chosen, is eligible to be a member of the House.

Since a 1911 law, the House is limited to 435 members. Members are allocated to each state based on the every 10 year census, and providing each state has at least 1 member, regardless of its population. And therein lies the rub. There is an exquisite method used to make those allocations. See below.

Current House pay is $165,200 per year although leaders are paid more. $183,500. Pensions vest after 5 years. Perks include extraordinarily good and extraordinarily low cost health care. Dems chide GOPs for not allowing ordinary citizens to have such good health care. The 40,000 employees of Congress are included in this good health care system.

A commission makes salary recommendations every two years. The recommendations go into effect automatically unless disapproved by both chambers. A cleverly devised system takes votes on a motion whether to disapprove of the recommendations. A “No” vote means “Yes” for a raise, whereas a “Yes” vote on the motion to disapprove is a “No” vote on the pay raise. Hmm? Say that again?

Current membership is 231 GOP (53.3%) and Dems 201 and 1 Independent who votes with the Dems (46.7%). 2 seats are vacant. In addition there are Delegates from American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, and American Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico sends a person known as a Resident Commissioner. These 5 members of the House are fully participatory except they cannot vote on the Floor. That is where the final passage of bills takes place. This restriction is due to the US Con not providing for non-state representation.

The House has divided itself into 21 “standing” or permanent committees. Each committee is divided into various sub committees. Consider the House Appropriations Committee. This committee has overall control of every dollar expended by or on behalf of the United States of America. This is your “home” of the much maligned but always welcome, earmarks. That is, welcome if you are receiving one. Maybe not if you are just paying for it.

The Appropriations Committee has 36 GOPs (55.4%) and 29 Dems (44.6%). There are 10 sub committees. The sub committee chairmen - 10 (white) men (and no women) - have more to say about spending by the Federal Government than any other 10 members of Congress. House Rules - as promulgated by the Rules Committee - 9 GOP and 4 Dems - give extra ordinary powers to subcommittee chairmen; to set the agenda, to schedule hearings, and to recognize persons to speak. Democracy in action!

The Con assigns three tasks to the House alone. One rarely used is the power to bring charges against an Executive Branch officer including the president. The act of charging is called “a bill of impeachment.” The charges are then presented by designated House members before the Senate which sits as a jury. The Vice President - unless he is the “object de’attention” - my own French - presides but cannot vote.

The second US Con assigned prerogative to the House is used all the time. It is the restriction that all spending bills must originate in the House. When the bill goes to the Senate, it may treated as any other bill, amended or modified, but the Senate cannot originate any appropriation.

When bills dealing with the same topic are passed by each chamber but in differing forms, the two bills are sent to a conference committee made up of equal numbers of House and Senate members. Often, the chambers agree to accept the work product of the conference committee. Sometimes they don’t and then it is back to ground zero.

The third assignment of sole prerogative to the House is, the selection of a president when any candidate fails to get a majority in the Electoral College. (The Senate chooses the Vice President.) In such a case, each state is assigned one vote. This means Vermont or Wyoming has as much power as California or Texas. 1 vote each.

What if the representatives of a state cannot agree on which candidate to vote for? Then their state gets no vote at all. The first time the presidential election was put into the House was in 1800, when Aaron Burr tied with Thomas Jefferson. After 36 ballots, Alexander Hamilton threw New York for Jefferson, thereby making him the 3rd president of the United States and giving Aaron Burr cause to later kill Hamilton in a duel in New Jersey. In 1800, the US capital was in New York City, but dueling was a crime in New York state.

The most powerful Speaker of the House was Joe Cannon of Illinois. He served from 1903 to 1911. Not as long as others, but he had 2 powers no other Speaker before him or after him possessed. The longest serving Speaker was Texan Sam Rayburn, for 17 years, splint into 3 segments. Democrats have held the speakership from 1931 to 1995, 63 years, interrupted for 4 years - split 2 times - both by Speaker Martin Republican of Massachusetts.

Speaker Cannon had the power to designate member’s committee assignments and to designate committee chairmen. Speaker Cannon had the power to allot all bills to the committee of his choice. This meant nothing happened in Congress without Speaker Cannon’s approval. Nothing.

Speaker Cannon would not allow a newly elected representative to make a speech on the floor of the House during their first year. Further, Speaker Cannon personally approved the speech before it was delivered. Speaker Cannon himself presided during any important floor debate, and controlled the process by recognizing some and refusing to recognize others. Hmm? Democracy in action.

Foot Note:
Allotting House Seats Between the States. The Huntington-Hill Method, Also known as the Method of Equal Proportions. The current method used to apportion House seats began around 1911 by Joseph A. Hill, Chief Statistician of the Bureau of the Census and Edward V. Huntington, Professor of Mechanics & Mathematics, Harvard U.


"The Huntington-Hill method of apportionment assigns seats by finding a modified divisor D such that each constinuency's quotient (population divided by D), when rounded by geometric mean of the lower and upper quota, yields the correct number of seats." From Wikipedia


[edit on 7/9/2006 by donwhite]

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