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Congressional Committees and the Legislative Process
U.S. Capitol dome.
Library of Congress
This lesson plan introduces students to the pivotal role that Congressional committees play in the legislative process, focusing on how their own Congressional representatives influence legislation through their committee appointments. Students begin by reviewing the stages of the legislative process, then learn how committees and subcommittees help determine the outcome of this process by deciding which bills the full Congress will consider and by shaping the legislation upon which votes are finally cast. With this background, students research the committee and subcommittee assignments of their Congressional representatives, then divide into small groups to prepare class reports on the jurisdictions of these different committees and their representatives' special responsibilities on each one. Finally, students consider why representation on these specific committees might be important to the people of their state or community, and examine how the committee system reflects some of the basic principles of American federalism.
What role do Committees play during the legislative process?
How is Committee membership determined?
What role do Committees play with regard to oversight and checks and balances?
Analyze the legislative process of the United States Congress by focusing on the role of Committees.
Evaluate how Congressional representatives can influence legislation through their specific committee assignments.
Evaluate how Committees uphold the Constitutional responsibilities of the Legislative Branch.
Lesson Plan Details
NCSS.D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
NCSS.D2.His.2.9-12. Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
NCSS.D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.
NCSS.D2.His.12.9-12. Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.
NCSS.D2.His.14.9-12. Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
NCSS.D2.His.15.9-12. Distinguish between long-term causes and triggering events in developing a historical argument.
NCSS.D2.His.16.9-12. Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
Begin this lesson by guiding students through the basic process by which a bill becomes law in the United States Congress. The Schoolhouse Rock cartoon "I'm Just a Bill" below provides a look at the process and can be accompanied by a flow-chart diagram of this process.
A detailed explanation of the legislative process is available through EDSITEment at the CongressLink website. At the website homepage, click "Table of Contents" in the lefthand menu, then look under the heading, "Know Your Congress" for the link to How Our Laws Are Made , which describes lawmaking from the House of Representatives' point of view.
For a corresponding description from the Senate's perspective, look under the "Know Your Congress" heading for the link to "Information about Congress," then select "... The Legislative Process," and click " ... Enactment of a Law ." CongressLink also provides access to a more succinct account of the legislative process: on the "Table of Contents" page, scroll down and click "Related Web Sites," then scroll down again and click THOMAS , a congressional information website maintained by the Library of Congress. Click "About the U.S. Congress" and select "About the U.S. Congress" from the list that follows for a chapter from the U.S. Government Manual that includes this outline of the process:
- When a bill ... is introduced in the House, [it is assigned] to the House committee having jurisdiction.
- If favorably considered, it is reported to the House either in its original form or with recommended amendments.
- If ... passed by the House, it is messaged to the Senate and referred to the committee having jurisdiction.
- In the Senate committee the bill, if favorably considered, may be reported in the form it is received from the House, or with recommended amendments.
- The approved bill ... is reported to the Senate and, if passed by that body, returned to the House.
- If one body does not accept the amendments to a bill by the other body, a conference committee comprised of Members of both bodies is usually appointed to effect a compromise.
- When the bill ... is finally approved by both Houses, it is signed by the Speaker ... and the Vice President ... and is presented to the President.
- Once the President's signature is affixed, the measure becomes a law. If the President vetoes the bill, it cannot become law unless it is re-passed by a two-thirds vote of both Houses.
Point out to students the important role that Congressional committees play in this process. Public attention usually focuses on the debate over legislation that occurs on the floor of the House and Senate, but in order for a bill to reach the floor on either side, it must first be approved by a committee, which can also amend the bill to reflect its views on the underlying issue. Congressional committees, in other words, largely control the legislative process by deciding which bills come to a vote and by framing the language of each bill before it is debated.
Provide students with background on the organization and operation of Congressional committees, using resources available through the U.S. Congress website. A schedule of Congressional committee hearings can be used to identify topics currently under consideration.
- Although committees are not mentioned in the Constitution, Congress has used committees to manage its business since its first meetings in 1789.
- Committees enable Congress to divide responsibility for its many tasks, including legislation, oversight, and internal administration, and thereby cope effectively with the great number and complexity of the issues placed before it.
- There are today approximately 200 Congressional committees and subcommittees in the House and Senate, each of which is responsible for considering all matters that fall within its jurisdiction.
- Congress has three types of committees: (1) Standing Committees are permanent panels with jurisdiction over broad policy areas (e.g., Agriculture, Foreign Relations) or areas of continuing legislative concern (e.g., Appropriations, Rules); (2) Select Committees are temporary or permanent panels created to consider a specific issue that lies outside the jurisdiction of other committees or that demands special attention (e.g., campaign contributions); (3) Joint Committees are panels formed by the House and Senate together, usually to investigate some common concern rather than to consider legislation, although joint committees known as Conference Committees are formed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a specific measure.
- Many committees divide their work among subcommittees, upon which a limited number of the committee members serve. Subcommittees are responsible for specific areas within the committee's jurisdiction and report their work on a bill to the full committee, which must approve it before reporting the bill to its branch of Congress.
- Party leaders determine the size of each committee, which average about 40 members in the House and about 18 members in the Senate, and determine the proportion of majority and minority committee members. The majority party always has more seats on a committee and one of its members chairs the committee. Each party also determines committee assignments for its members, observing rules that have been adopted to limit the number and type of committees and subcommittees upon which one member can serve.
- Each committee's chairperson has authority over its operation. He or she usually sets the committee's agenda, decides when to take or delay action, presides at most committee meetings, and controls the committee's operating budget. Subcommittee chairpersons exercise similar authority over their smaller panels, subject to approval by the committee chair.
- The work of Congressional committees begins when a bill that has been introduced to the House or Senate is referred to the committee for consideration. Most committees take up only a small percentage of the bills referred to them; those upon which the committee takes no action are said to "die in committee." The committee's first step in considering a bill is usually to ask for written comment by the executive agency that will be responsible for administering it should it become law. Next, the committee will usually hold hearings to gather opinions from outside experts and concerned citizens. If the committee decides to move forward with the bill, it will meet to frame and amend the measure through a process called markup. Finally, when the committee has voted to approve the bill, it will report the measure to its branch of Congress, usually with a written report explaining why the measure should be passed.
- Once a bill comes to the floor of the House or Senate, the committee that reported it is usually responsible for guiding it through debate and securing its passage. This can involve working out parliamentary strategies, responding to questions raised by colleagues, and building coalitions of support. Likewise, if the House and Senate pass different versions of a bill, the committees that reported each version will take the lead in working out a compromise through a conference committee.
Activity 1. Research the committees and subcommittees
Begin by viewing the Library of Congress video on Congressional Committees . Have students research the committees and subcommittees upon which their Congressional representatives serve, using library resources or the resources available through the U.S. Congress website.
- To help students find out who your Congressional representatives are, use the U.S. Congress website to search by state.
- Click on the name of each representative for a profile, including a photograph, which lists the representative's committee assignments.
- The U.S. Congress website page provides information pertaining to sponsored and cosponsored legislation, member websites, and allows users to track legislation.
- To find out which committees and subcommittees a representative serves on, use the U.S. Congress Committee Reports page .
- For an overview of Congressional committees and their jurisdictions, use the U.S. Congress Committee Reports page .
Congressional Committee Activity:
Divide the class into small groups and have each group prepare a report on one of the committees (or subcommittees) upon which one of your Congressional representatives serves, including the size of the committee, its jurisdiction, and whether your representative has a leadership post on the committee. Encourage students to include as well information about legislation currently before the committee. They can find this information using library resources or through the U.S. Congress Committee Reports page .
After students present their reports, discuss how committee assignments can affect a Congressional representative's ability to effectively represent his or her constituents.
- Do your representatives have seats on committees with jurisdiction over issues that have special importance for your state or community? If so, how might their presence on these committees help assure that Congress takes action on questions of local interest?
- Do your representatives have seats on committees with jurisdiction over important legislative activities, such as budget-making or appropriations? If so, how might their presence on these powerful committees help assure that your community's views receive careful Congressional consideration?
After exploring these questions, have students debate the extent to which a Congressional representative's committee vote may be more influential than his or her vote on the floor of the House or Senate. Which vote has more impact on legislation? In this regard, have students consider President Woodrow Wilson's observation that "Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee-rooms is Congress at work."
Activity 2. How do Congressional committees reflects some of the fundamental principles of federalism?
Conclude by having students consider how the structure and function of Congressional committees reflects some of the fundamental principles of federalism. For a broad discussion of federalism, have students read The Federalist No. 39 , in which James Madison highlights the Constitution's provisions for a federal, as distinguished from a national, form of government.
Have students imagine, for example, that they are members of a Congressional committee that is considering a bill with special importance for the people of your community.
- How would they balance their responsibilities to their constituents with their responsibilities to the nation as a whole?
- To what extent is this a question each Congressional representative must answer individually?
- To what extent is it a question that the mechanisms of our government answer through the legislative process?
Related on EDSITEment
Commemorating constitution day, a day for the constitution, balancing three branches at once: our system of checks and balances.
How Are Members of a Committee in Congress Chosen?
Before a bill comes before the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives for consideration, it must pass through a subcommittee and committee that specialize in the type of legislation the bill proposes. Both the House and the Senate have a three-step process to appoint committee members. Each committee is represented by legislators of both major political parties. Appointments on each committee are divided in proportion to the seats each party controls in the chamber the committee serves.
Explore this article
- Selection Process
1 Selection Process
Republicans and Democrats generally know how many seats they will receive in each committee before Congress convenes. Third party and independent legislators may be assigned to committees through either party. The parties select their desired committee appointments through a system which allows experienced legislators first choice of appointments by seniority. In most cases, legislators opt to stay on the committees they served in previous sessions of Congress. A drawing is held to determine the order in which new legislators may pick committee assignments. After all committee assignments are chosen within the parties, the parties' senators and representatives vote on whether to approve the slate of appointees. Once each party has approved its slate of appointees, they are presented to the full House or Senate for approval. Approval votes – both within the parties and before the legislative bodies – are usually approved without significant opposition.
- 1 Senate.gov: Senate Committees
- 2 Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives: Committee FAQs
About the Author
Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.
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The House Explained
We the People of the United States…
As per the Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives makes and passes federal laws. The House is one of Congress’s two chambers (the other is the U.S. Senate), and part of the federal government’s legislative branch. The number of voting representatives in the House is fixed by law at no more than 435, proportionally representing the population of the 50 states.
What is a representative.
Also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman, each representative is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees. The number of representatives with full voting rights is 435, a number set by Public Law 62-5 on August 8, 1911, and in effect since 1913. The number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.
Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution provides for both the minimum and maximum sizes for the House of Representatives. Currently, there are five delegates representing the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. A resident commissioner represents Puerto Rico. The delegates and resident commissioner possess the same powers as other members of the House, except that they may not vote when the House is meeting as the House of Representatives.
To be elected, a representative must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen for at least seven years and an inhabitant of the state he or she represents.
Go to the Clerk’s site for more information about representatives.
View the list of House members.
Find Your Representative
Enter your ZIP code in the banner of this page to find the representative for your congressional district.
Did You Know?
After extensive debate, the framers of the Constitution agreed to create the House with representation based on population and the Senate with equal representation. This agreement was part of what is referred to as The Great Compromise .
House leadership includes the speaker, majority and minority leaders, assistant leaders, whips and a party caucus or conference. The speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several institutional and administrative roles. Majority and minority leaders represent their respective parties on the House floor. Whips assist leadership in managing their party's legislative program on the House floor. A party caucus or conference is the name given to a meeting of or organization of all party members in the House. During these meetings, party members discuss matters of concern.
The majority party members and the minority party members meet in separate caucuses to select their leader. Third parties rarely have had enough members to elect their own leadership, and independents will generally join one of the larger party organizations to receive committee assignments.
Learn more about the history of the majority and minority leaders from the Office of the Clerk .
View the list of leadership offices and links to the websites.
Curious about who else has been Speaker of the House or Majority Leader? Read more about past house leadership .
Do You Know?
How many people have served as Speaker of the House? Has the Speaker ever become President? Find out more about the history of the Speakership!
The House’s standing committees have different legislative jurisdictions. Each considers bills and issues and recommends measures for consideration by the House. Committees also have oversight responsibilities to monitor agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions, and in some cases in areas that cut across committee jurisdictions.
The Committee of the Whole House is a committee of the House on which all representatives serve and which meets in the House Chamber for the consideration of measures from the Union calendar.
Before members are assigned to committees, each committee’s size and the proportion of Republicans to Democrats must be decided by the party leaders. The total number of committee slots allotted to each party is approximately the same as the ratio between majority party and minority party members in the full chamber.
Get answers to frequently asked questions about committees from the Clerk of the House.
All committees have websites where they post information about the legislation they are drafting.
What's a Select Committee?
The House will sometimes form a special or select committee for a short time period and specific purpose, frequently an investigation.
Each committee has a chair and a ranking member. The chair heads the full committee. The ranking member leads the minority members of the committee.
Congress has created a wide variety of temporary and permanent commissions to serve as advisory bodies for investigative or policy-related issues, or to carry out administrative, interparliamentary, or commemorative tasks. Such commissions are typically created by either law or House resolution, and may be composed of House members, private citizens, or a mix of both. In some cases, the commissions are entities of the House or Congress itself; in other cases, they are crafted as independent entities within the legislative branch.
Examples of commissions
- Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: a temporary, independent investigative body created by law and made up of private citizens.
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the Helsinki Commission): an independent U.S. government agency composed of nine members of the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
- House Page Board: a permanent, Congressional advisory group created by law and made up of House members, Officers, and private citizens.
- Congressional Executive Commission on China
- Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission)
- House Democracy Partnership Commission
- Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
- U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Whether working on Capitol Hill or in his / her congressional district, a representative’s schedule is extremely busy. Often beginning early in the morning with topical briefings, most representatives move quickly among caucus and committee meetings and hearings. They vote on bills, speak with constituents and other groups, and review constituent mail, press clips and various reports. Work can continue into the evening with receptions or fundraising events.
Representatives carry out a broad scope of work in order to best represent their constituents.
Contact Your Representative
Share your thoughts with your representative. Use the Find Your Representative box in the banner of this site to identify your representative, then use the contact form to share your thoughts.
Representatives’ schedules are sometimes planned out in increments as short as five minutes.
The Rules of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress were established by the House with the adoption of H. Res. 5 (PDF) on January 9, 2023. A section by section analysis is also available.
Rules of Conduct
The Committee on Ethics has jurisdiction over the rules and statutes governing the conduct of members, officers and employees while performing their official duties.
The Rules Committee controls what bills go to the House Floor and the terms of debate.
The makeup of the Rules Committee has traditionally been weighted in favor of the majority party, and has been in its current configuration of 9 majority and 4 minority members since the late 1970s.
The Rules Committee has an online Parliamentary Bootcamp that gives an overview of House Floor procedures, process and precedents.
As outlined in the Constitution , the House represents citizens based on district populations, while the Senate represents citizens on an equal state basis. This agreement was part of what is called The Great Compromise which, in turn, led to the Permanent Seat of Government Act establishing the nation’s federal capital in Washington, DC. In 1789, the House assembled for the first time in New York. It moved to Philadelphia in 1790 and then to Washington, DC, in 1800.
Each member of the House represents a set number of constituents.
More House History
Learn more about the History of the House from the Clerk’s website.
The House of Representatives moved into the House wing on the south side of the Capitol in 1807, four years before the wing was fully completed.
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- 1. Introduction
- 2. Committee assignments: a congressional bias
- 3. The papers
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Committee Assignments: Theories, Causes and Consequences
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Shane Martin, Tim A Mickler, Committee Assignments: Theories, Causes and Consequences, Parliamentary Affairs , Volume 72, Issue 1, January 2019, Pages 77–98, https://doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsy015
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Conventional wisdom suggests that a strong legislature is built on a strong internal committee system, both in terms of committee powers and the willingness of members to engage in committee work. Committee assignments are the behavioural manifestation of legislative organisation. Despite this, much remains unknown about how committee assignments happen and with what causes and consequences. Our focus in this article is on providing the context for, and introducing new research on, what we call the political economy of committee assignments —which members get selected to sit on which committees, why and with what consequences.
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Understanding Texas Committee Appointments
Table of contents.
In the wake of the loss of the super colliding super conductor that would’ve put Texas on the global map, I cheered with optimism as a scientist was finally elected to Texas congress. He ran on a platform that he would correct the mistakes of funding that lead to recent waste in scientific funding. However I was stunned when, after his election, he was not appointed to the committee on science and technology. In fact he was appointed to a committee that had very little to do with anything (waste management). This was because, as we’ve discussed in our explanation of how Texas bills become laws , committee assignments have little to do with ones speciality or knowledgeable, but rather how senior the elected representative is.
While we’ll have section at the bottom with helpful links and sources, note that both the Texas house and senate have two different official websites that we’ll go ahead and link to now. In addition to the helpful links at the bottom of this page, we’ll continue to update this page with information about committee appointments and committee assignments as they happen.
- Texas Senate Website
- Texas House Website
Why do Committee Assignments Matter?
Before a bill is voted on in either the house or the senate, it first goes through the relevant committee. This works the same way whether you’re in Texas, Georgia or even at the federal Government level. The reasoning for committees is that chambers of congress cannot vote on every bill that gets filed (there’s just too many) so committees are a way of making the process “manageable.” If a bill fails to make it out of the committee (be it the Senate or House), the bill is dead. So the stakes are high.
What do they do?
Once a bill is successfully filed by an elected representative, the bill is assigned to the relevant committee. If the bill is first filed in the house then it is assigned to a House committee. If the bill is filed in the Senate, then it is assigned to a Senate committee. Once a bill is assigned to a particular Committee they’ll call in relevant experts and have a series of debates within the committee before voting. If the bill passes the committee in the respective chamber, then the bill goes to the floor of that chamber first (where it is debated) and then ultimately a vote from all members in that chamber.
All bills must go through this process, committees cannot be bypassed.
How Are They Chosen
If you’ve read the entire article up to now, you should be asking yourself “Well, how are committee assignments chosen then?” Good question. In Texas the Senate and the House have a different process but both rely on the head of the chamber (Speaker of the house and the Lieutenant Governor) determining committee assignments based on referrals from their own party.
How House Committees Appointments Are Made
In Texas, House committee assignments are made by the speaker of the house, according to the official Senate website (and note the importance of seniority): “The members give the speaker the authority to appoint the membership of each standing committee, subject to rules on seniority, and to designate the chair and vice chair for each committee. Under the rules, the speaker is responsible for referring all proposed legislation to committee, subject to the committee jurisdictions set forth in the rules. The rules also allow the speaker to appoint conference committees, to create select committees, and to direct committees to conduct interim studies when the legislature is not in session.”
However that’s not all of it. The first part, perhaps the most important part, explicitly makes reference to the importance of seniority. Via official house rules , half of a committees’ seats are assigned by seniority. In cases where representatives have equal seniority, the speaker makes the call on who gets the seat. After half of committee seats are decided, the Speaker of the House then chooses the rest of that committees appointments.
The most recent speaker of the house was Dade Phalen , who took over the position in 2021.
How Senate Committees Are Chosen
Senate committee assignments in Texas are appointments made by the Lieutenant Governor. The standing Lieutenant Governor is conservative radio talk show host Dan Patrick (but not the former ESPN talk show host).
Current House Committees
Here is the full list of all 34 (plus multiple subcommittees) current in the Texas house of representatives. Let’s take one example to show you how to see the activity (and current members) of a committee. On the previous link, click on any one of the committees from the list. We’ll take the first one, the Agriculture & Livestock Committee.
The red line points to “Bills Referred”–this will take you to the following page which indicate which bills were referred to the committee during the previous session. The list is split into two sections “Bills In Committee” and “Bills Out Of Committee.” The bills out of committee are the bills that successfully passed through the committe.
Current Senate Committees
Below is a table of the current senate Committees in Texas in tabular form. Though their official website is hard to navigate and looks like it was built in the 1990s (one of the reasons we made this website), the official Texas Senate Website is actually full of information if you know how to access it. Notice that the Texas Senate has only 15 committees committees compared to the House’s 34 (not counting sub-committees).
House Committee meetings : Every house committee in the Texas legislature keeps a list of every meeting that took place, the witness list for the meeting, and the minutes of the meeting. You can access this by clicking here and clicking on the relevant committee. This will pull up a list of every committee meeting from the session selected.
Watch and see upcoming house Committee Meetings : This page will be updated when the session begins with the schedule of house committee meetings. You will also be able to access a live stream of all committee meetings from this page.
Senate Committee Meetings : The previous link will take you to a page, similar to the first link that sent you to a list of house committee meetings, only this takes you to a list of Senate committee meetings.
Watch and see upcoming Senate Committee Meetings : The previous link will take you to a page that, after the session begins, will be updated with a schedule of all upcoming meetings by committee in the Senate.
Find Committee Assignments By Name : This reverses the structure and allows you to look for committee assignments by elected representative. As we discussed, most representatives will serve on 2-3 different committees with the more senior representatives being on the more “important” committees.
TexasLawChanges.com is a website dedicated to monitoring, communicating and informing Texans about law changes across the state.
How Are Committee Chairmen Chosen?
Committee chairs are usually chosen through the seniority system . The seniority system is when the member of the majority party with the longest tenure on the committee is automatically selected.
Who sets the agenda in the Senate?
Members of each political party convene in private meetings known as party conferences (or party caucuses) to elect floor leaders, make committee assignments, and set legislative agendas.
How are the Senate leaders chosen?
The floor leaders and whips of each party are elected by a majority vote of all the senators of their party assembled in a conference or, as it sometimes is called, a caucus. … The majority and minority leaders are the elected spokespersons on the Senate floor for their respective political parties.
What is the difference between a committee chair and a ranking member?
In United States politics, a ranking member is the most senior member of a congressional or state legislative committee from the minority party. … When party control of a legislative chamber changes, a committee’s ranking minority member is assured to become the next chairman of the committee, and vice versa.
Who controls agenda setting and which committee a senator or representative gets to be on?
The chair of each committee and a majority of its members represent the majority party, with the chair setting the agenda for committee business.
How is majority leader chosen?
The Senate Republican and Democratic floor leaders are elected by the members of their party in the Senate at the beginning of each Congress. Depending on which party is in power, one serves as majority leader and the other as minority leader. … The majority leader has also come to speak for the Senate as an institution.
How does a bill move through the committee process?
First, a representative sponsors a bill. The bill is then assigned to a committee for study. If released by the committee, the bill is put on a calendar to be voted on, debated or amended. If the bill passes by simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate.
How are committee chairmen chosen and explain their role in the legislative process?
They’re chosen from the majority party by the majority party caucus . They have a major say in such matters as: Which bills a committee will consider and in what order and what length, whether public hearings are to be held and what witnesses the committee will call.
How are committee members selected and who selects them?
Under the House Rules the chairman and members of standing committees are selected through a two-step procedure where the Democratic Caucus and the Republican Conference recommends members to serve on Committees, the majority party recommends a Chairman, and the Minority Party recommends a Ranking Member and finally …
Who assigns representatives to each of the committees?
Each party assigns, by resolution, its own members to committees, and each committee distributes its members among subcommittees. The Senate places limits on the number and types of panels any one senator may serve on and chair.
Why are committee chairmen important in the legislative process?
Why are committee chairmen important in the legislative process? They have a major say in which bills the committee will consider . … It decides whether or not a bill will get a vote by the full House.
How do freshman Congress members typically choose their committee assignments?
How do freshman congress members typically choose their committee assignments? Based upon the needs of their district or state .
How are the Speaker of the House and the chairs of House committees chosen?
Committee Chairs are selected by whichever party is in the majority, and the minority party selects Ranking Members to lead them. … The Ethics, House Administration, Rules and all select committees are chosen by the party leaders (Speaker in the majority and Minority Leader in the minority).
How is the speaker of the house chosen?
The Speaker is elected at the beginning of a new Congress by a majority of the Representatives-elect from candidates separately chosen by the majority- and minority-party caucuses. These candidates are elected by their party members at the organizing caucuses held soon after the new Congress is elected.
What is the leader of the Senate called?
The titular, non-partisan leaders of the Senate itself are the Vice President of the United States, who serves as President of the Senate, and the President pro tempore, the seniormost member of the majority, who theoretically presides in the absence of the Vice President.
How many committees can a senator serve on?
Number of Assignments: Senate Rule XXV, paragraph 4, places restrictions on committee membership based on these categories. Each Senator shall serve on two committees, and no more than two, in Class A. Each Senator may serve on one committee, but no more than one, in Class B.
How is membership in the standing committees determined?
How is membership in the standing committees determined? Elected by floor vote at beginning of term / Floor vote ratifies committee choices / Majority party in each house gets majority of seats . … Members of both House & Senate.
Who is the person who chooses the chairs for each of the standing committees in the Assembly?
Most often, it is the presiding officer of a legislative assembly. In 63 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers, committee chairs are appointed by the president of the Senate or the speaker of the House .
How is rank determined in Congress?
For the most part, representatives are ranked by the beginning of their terms in office. Representatives whose terms begin the same day are ranked alphabetically by last name.
How is Senate ranking determined?
Senate rank is first determined by the length of consecutive service in the Senate. For senators who entered the Senate on the same day, several tie-breaking procedures determine seniority. … If a tie still exists, senators are ranked according to the population of their state at the time of swearing in.
How are Senate members ranked?
United States senators are conventionally ranked by the length of their tenure in the Senate. The senator in each U.S. state with the longer time in office is known as the senior senator; the other is the junior senator.
Michigan GOP lawmaker stripped of committee, office staff after 'great replacement' post
Lansing — House Speaker Joe Tate on Monday stripped an Oakland County Republican lawmaker of his office staff and budget and committee assignment for sharing a racist population conspiracy theory on social media.
Tate's office said GOP state Rep. Josh Schriver of Oxford will still be able to vote on the House floor but his service on committees and access to office resources is subject to the "discretion and pleasure" of Tate, D-Detroit. Under House rules, the speaker controls the allocation of staff and money for each representative's individual office.
The speaker's punishment came about a week after Schriver, a first-term lawmaker, reposted a social media post about the "great replacement" theory , a theory that there's a coordinated global effort to diminish the influence of White people.
Tate revoked Schriver's privileges Monday, arguing he would not allow the House "to be a forum for the proliferation of racist, hateful and bigoted speech.
“Rep. Schriver has a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others," Tate said in a statement Monday. "The House of Representatives is the people’s house, and all Michiganders should look upon this body and take pride in how we conduct ourselves. It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure.”
Schriver previously had been assigned to the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. He had one staff member, who will be reassigned, and an annual office budget of about $132,000, according to Tate's office. Schriver did not respond to multiple messages Monday seeking comment about Tate's punishment.
While some Republican lawmakers condemned Schriver's post, House Republican Leader Matt Hall has stayed silent on the issue. Hall and his spokesman did not respond Monday to messages seeking comment.
Republican state Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford came to Schriver's defense Monday, calling him a "great man without a racist bone in his body" who would emerge stronger from the "woke" leadership's punishment.
Maddock argued Schriver's actions paled in comparison to recent voting district maps that were ruled a racial gerrymander and ordered redrawn by federal judges. The panel that drew the maps had argued, in part, that the need to give Democrats more seats and achieve better partisan fairness had led to the drawing of districts with fewer Black people; Black Detroiters suing over the maps argued the group put partisanship ahead of Black representation.
"Josh Schriver could have gerrymandered a dozen Black Dems out of office and been praised," Maddock said. "Instead, he retweeted a meme and he's a pariah. This is all just left-wing passion plays to hang the scarlet 'R' around Josh. It's obscene."
The last lawmaker to be stripped of both committee assignments and office resources was GOP state Rep. Larry Inman after he, in 2019, was indicted on bribery charges that alleged he attempted to sell his vote on a prevailing wage law repeal. Inman also was kicked out of the House Republican caucus that year. He was acquitted last month of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.
In late 2020, Democratic then-Rep. Cynthia Johnson of Detroit lost her committee assignments briefly because of language she used responding to threats from supporters of then President Donald Trump. Democratic Rep. Jewell Jones of Inkster lost his committee assignments in 2021 after being convicted of drunken driving and assaulting a police officer. Neither Johnson nor Jones lost access to office resources.
Posts spark anger
On Feb. 6, Schriver shared a post of a graphic that depicted black figurines covering most of a map of the world, with white figures occupying smaller sections of Australia, Canada, northern Europe and the northern United States. The bottom of the graphic read "The great replacement!"
The graphic, initially posted by right-wing pundit Jack Posobiec, was reposted by Schriver with an emoji of a chart showing a downward trend on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Schriver told The Detroit News at the time that he loved "all of God's offspring."
"I'm opposed to racists, race baiters, and victim politics," Schriver said in the statement. "What I find strange is the agenda to demoralize and reduce the white portion of our population. That's not inclusive and Christ is inclusive! I'm glad Tucker Carlson and Jack Posobiec are sharing links so I can continue my research on these issues."
The "great replacement" conspiracy theory asserts there is a coordinated effort to dilute the influence of White people through immigration and through low birth rates among White individuals, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The theory has been linked to anti-Semitism, with some versions alleging it is Jews coordinating the so-called replacement.
It has been referenced, in varying degrees, by shooters in several mass shootings, such as a shooting of 10 people, including several Black individuals, in Buffalo New York in 2022; in the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh; in a 2019 synagogue shooting in Poway, California; and in a 2019 shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
In the days since his comments were reported, Schriver has posted on X repeatedly on the topic, calling criticism of his post "an anti-white agenda" and accusing media of attempting "to start a race war."
He also indicated Tate was "being forced to politically attack me now."
Schriver also posted "Do the Democrats know that Joe Biden is ... White?" and then "Heck, does Joe Biden know that he is white?"
Tate condemned Schriver's initial post on the "great replacement" theory last week, but had refrained from taking action against the lawmaker. It appears Schriver's subsequent posts on the issue may have caused the speaker to change course.
Dems, Republicans react to comments
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin, both Democrats, condemned the posts Friday and called out Republican leadership for not condemning the rhetoric.
"It is a failure of leadership for this kind of action to take place unchecked by the leaders of Rep. Schriver’s caucus, and the longer there is no action taken, the more responsibility leadership bears," Whitmer said.
At least two Republican lawmakers publicly spoke out against Schriver's comments.
Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township, said lawmakers are held to a higher standard and must speak out "against hate whenever it rears its ugly head."
“Hateful rhetoric goes against everything I believe and distracts from the positive work we're trying to accomplish for the people of Michigan," Steele said in a statement.
Sen. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, said he read the lawmaker's statement with "great horror" and argued they had nothing to do with conservative or American ideals.
"Such ideas truly have no place in our politics or our culture," Damoose said on social media. "By now, our nation should know better.
"And by now, we Republicans should know that anything other than a swift and strong rebuke of such filth undermines everything we say, everything we believe and everything we are trying to accomplish in terms of rebuilding the 'shining city on a hill' to which we point so often."
Committee Assignment Process in the U.S. Senate: Democratic and Republican Party Procedures
January 23, 2003 – November 3, 2006 RL30743
Because of the importance of committee work, Senators consider desirable committee assignments a priority. The key to securing favorable committee slots is often said to be targeting committee seats that match the legislator’s skills, expertise, and policy concerns.
After general elections are over, one of the first orders of business for Senate leaders is setting the sizes and ratios of committees. Although the size of each standing committee is set in Senate rules, changes in these sizes often result from inter-party negotiations before each new Congress. Senate party leaders also negotiate the party ratios on standing committees. Determinations of sizes and ratios usually are made before the process of assigning Senators to committees.
Once sizes and ratios of standing committees are determined, a panel for each party nominates colleagues for committee assignments. Senate Republicans primarily use a Committee on Committees for this purpose, although the Republican leader nominates Senators for assignment to some standing committees. Senate Democrats use a Steering and Outreach Committee to nominate Democrats for assignment to all standing committees. The processes these panels use are distinct. Republicans rely on a seniority formula to make nominations, while Democrats make nominations on a seat-by-seat basis, considering a variety of factors.
The processes also have many common features. After the general election, each panel solicits preferences for committee assignment from party colleagues, then matches these preferences with vacancies on standing committees. Senate rules, along with party rules and practices, guide the work of the Committee on Committees and the Steering and Outreach Committee. Senate rules, for instance, divide the standing and other Senate committees into three groups, the so-called “A” “B” and “C” categories. Senators must serve on two “A” committees and may serve on one “B” committee, and any number of “C” committees. Exceptions to these restrictions are sometimes approved by the Senate. Both parties place further limitations, for example, by generally prohibiting two Senators from the same party and state from serving on the same committee.
The nominations of each of these panels require the approval of the pertinent full party conference and ultimately the Senate. Approval at both stages usually is granted easily, because of the debate and decision-making earlier in the process.
Specific rules regarding Senate membership on and appointments to non-standing committees vary from committee to committee, but party leaders usually are included in the process.
For more information on Senate and party rules governing assignment limitations, see CRS Report 98-183, Senate Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments.
Overview of assignment process, types of committees, coverage of report, committee ratios and sizes, chamber categories and limitations, republicans, the nomination process, republican conference and full chamber approval, democratic conference and full chamber approval, non-standing committees.
Because of the importance of committee work, Senators consider desirable committee assignments a priority. The key to securing favorable committee slots is often said to be targeting committee seats that match the legislator's skills, expertise, and policy concerns.
The processes also have many common features. After the general election, each panel solicits preferences for committee assignment from party colleagues, then matches these preferences with vacancies on standing committees. Senate rules, along with party rules and practices, guide the work of the Committee on Committees and the Steering and Outreach Committee. Senate rules, for instance, divide the standing and other Senate committees into three groups, the so-called "A" "B" and "C" categories. Senators must serve on two "A" committees and may serve on one "B" committee, and any number of "C" committees. Exceptions to these restrictions are sometimes approved by the Senate. Both parties place further limitations, for example, by generally prohibiting two Senators from the same party and state from serving on the same committee.
For more information on Senate and party rules governing assignment limitations, see CRS Report 98-183, Senate Committees: Categories and Rules for Committee Assignments .
Committee sizes and ratios are determined before Senators are assigned to committees. Although the size of each committee is set in Senate rules, changes to these rules often result from interparty negotiations before each Congress. Senate party leaders also negotiate the party ratio of each committee during the discussions of committee size.
Senate rules call for the election of Senators to standing committees by the entire membership of the chamber. Senate Rule XXIV, paragraph 1 states: "In the appointment of the standing committees, or to fill vacancies thereon, the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, shall by resolution appoint the chairman of each such committee and the other members thereof." 1 These elections are based on nominations made by the parties, but Senators do not officially take seats on committees until they are elected by the entire Senate.
While Senate rules are fairly clear regarding how nominations are to be approved , they do not address how the nominations of Senators to committees are to be made . In practice, each party vests its conference with the authority to make nominations to standing committees. Senate Republicans primarily use a Committee on Committees for this purpose, although the Republican leader nominates Senators for assignment to some standing committees. Senate Democrats use a Steering and Outreach Committee to nominate Democrats for assignment to all standing committees. The processes these two panels use are distinct, but the nominations of each panel require the approval of the full party conference and, ultimately, the Senate. Senate approval of the committee nominations of its parties usually is pro forma because the Senate respects the work of each party.
It has been customary for third-party and independent Senators to caucus with one of the major parties. At least for committee assignment purposes, such a Senator is considered a member of that conference and receives his or her committee assignments from that conference through its regular processes.
As used in this report, the term "standing committees" refers to the permanent panels identified in Senate rules. The rules also list the jurisdiction of each committee. Within their jurisdictions, the standing committees consider bills and issues, recommend measures for consideration by the Senate, and conduct oversight of agencies, programs, and activities. Most standing committees recommend authorized levels of funds for government operations and for new and existing programs within their jurisdiction.
The term "non-standing committee" is used here to describe joint committees, and select, special, and other Senate committees. Congress currently has four joint committees that are permanent and that conduct studies or perform housekeeping tasks rather than consider legislation. Members of both chambers serve on them. The assignment of Senators to conference committees (temporary joint committees formed to resolve differences in House- and Senate-passed versions of a measure) is not addressed by this report.
On occasion, the Senate has created select, special, and other committees. Sometimes such panels are created for a short time to complete a specific task, as in the case of the Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and Related Matters. The committee was created on May 17, 1995, and expired on June 17, 1996.
Select, special, and other committees have sometimes existed for many years. Some, like the Special Committee on Aging, conduct studies and investigations. Others, such as the Select Committee on Intelligence, have legislative jurisdiction, meaning they consider measures and recommend them for action by the Senate.
This report focuses primarily on how Senators are elected to standing committees. It first relates how standing committee sizes and ratios are set. It then identifies the classification of committees the Senate uses for assignment purposes, and the chamber limitations on committee service. It next describes the procedures that each party uses to recommend Senators for assignment to standing committees, and how the full chamber approves these recommendations. Finally, it summarizes the processes used to appoint Senators to non-standing committees.
The report does not address how committee chairs and ranking minority members are selected, or how subcommittee members and leaders are chosen.
Following general elections, one of the first orders of business for leaders of both parties in the Senate is the setting of standing committee ratios and sizes. Committee ratios and sizes usually are set simultaneously because of their interrelationship. These determinations usually are made before assigning Senators to standing committees because the party organizations that make committee assignments need to know the numbers of seats available to each party on each committee. The determination of ratios and sizes sometimes is made with an awareness of Senators' specific desires for seats on particular panels.
The ratio of Republicans to Democrats on each standing committee usually is determined at early organization meetings held in the interval between the general election and the beginning of a Congress. Since the rules of the chamber do not contain provisions regarding committee ratios generally, the majority party possesses the potential to set them unilaterally. In practice, however, ratios generally are set after negotiation between leaders of the two parties. Committee ratios usually parallel the overall party ratio in the Senate, with each party occupying a percentage of seats on all committees consistent with the percentage of seats it has in the Senate.
Senate Rule XXV sets out the number of Senators allowed on each committee. However, these committee sizes typically are amended at the beginning of a Congress through Senate approval of one or more resolutions. Under Senate rules, the majority and minority leaders may agree to adjust temporarily the size of one or more standing committees, by up to two members, to accord the majority party a majority of the membership of every standing committee (a "working majority"). In many cases, however, amendments to committee sizes are made to accommodate the interests and needs of Senators in serving on committees. These amendments, and therefore committee sizes, are usually the product of consultation between the party leaders.
The sizes of standing committees normally differ. In the 109 th Congress, the Senate standing committees ranged from 13 to 28 members. Committees with broader jurisdictions generally are larger than those whose jurisdiction is more narrowly defined. Committees considered more prestigious or otherwise sought-after also tend to be larger. The Senate Select Committee on Ethics has an equal party ratio pursuant to the resolution which created the panel.
The rules of the Senate divide its standing and other committees into categories for purposes of assigning all Senators to committees. In particular, Rule XXV, paragraphs 2 and 3 establish the categories of committees, popularly called the "A," "B," and "C" committees. The "A" and "B" categories, are as follows: 2
" A " COMMITTEES Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Appropriations Armed Services Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Commerce, Science, and Transportation Energy and Natural Resources Environment and Public Works Finance Foreign Relations Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Judiciary Select Committee on Intelligence
" B " COMMITTEES Budget Rules and Administration Small Business and Entrepreneurship Veterans' Affairs Special Committee on Aging Joint Economic Committee
The "C" category comprises three non-standing committees: the Select Committee on Ethics, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Joint Committee on Taxation. 3 The Joint Committee on the Library and the Joint Committee on Printing are not listed in any category, but are treated as "C" committees for assignment purposes.
Rule XXV, paragraph 4 places restrictions on Senators' committee membership based on these categories. The restrictions are intended to treat Senators equitably in the assignment process. Essentially, each Senator is limited to service on two of the "A" committees, and one of the "B" committees. Service on "C" committees is unrestricted.
Exceptions to the restrictions are recommended by the pertinent party conference and then officially authorized through Senate approval of a resolution affecting one or more Senators. Sometimes these exceptions are authorized to accord the majority party a working majority on a committee, whereas at other times exceptions are made to accommodate the preferences and needs of individual Senators.
The committee assignment process used by Senate Republicans involves three steps. First, the Committee on Committees and the Republican leader nominate Republican Senators for committee assignments. Second, these recommendations are submitted for approval to the Republican Conference, the organization of all Republican Senators. Third, the recommendations are incorporated into one or more Senate resolutions and approved by the full Senate.
The chair and other members of the Committee on Committees are appointed by the chair of the Republican Conference, subject to confirmation by the Republican Conference. The size of the Committee on Committees fluctuates from Congress to Congress. In recent Congresses, it consisted of nine members, including the majority leader, who served on the committee ex-officio and did not chair the panel. The Committee on Committees is relatively small, in part because it relies on a seniority formula in assigning both returning and newly elected Republican Senators. The formula makes the assignment process somewhat automatic; the absence of significant debate and voting thus requires comparatively few members.
Under Republican Conference rules, the Committee on Committees nominates Republicans for assignment to all category "A" committees, as well as to the Committee on Rules and Administration. According to Conference Rule V, nominations for assignment to other committees are made by the Republican leader (unless otherwise specified by law). In practice, the Republican leader also has nominated members to serve on the Committee on Rules and Administration.
Following a general election, all Republican Senators are asked to submit their committee assignment preferences to the Committee on Committees. The committee prefers that these requests be listed in order of priority. It is considered useful for new Republican Senators to consult with party leaders and the chairs (or ranking members) of desired committees to assess the likelihood of receiving a desired assignment. Under the seniority system used by Senate Republicans, for example, a freshman is likely to have more success if his or her first choice is not a committee seat desired by an incumbent or a "more senior" freshman. Informing party and committee leaders of one's committee preferences also acts to alert them to one's substantive policy interests.
In December or January following the general election, the Committee on Committees first meets to nominate Senators to committees. Senate Rule XXV, as described above, sets out the rules and restrictions that guide the committee in distributing standing committee seats. The Republican Conference has established additional rules and guidelines that govern the procedures of the Committee on Committees. One such rule generally prohibits any Republican from serving on more than one of the "Super A," or "big four" category "A," committees: Appropriations, Armed Services, Finance, and Foreign Relations. 4 Conference rules also generally prohibit two Republican Senators from the same state from serving on the same panel. 5
Republicans usually nominate Senators to "A" committees before filling vacancies on other committees. The seniority formula used by the Committee on Committees in making assignment nominations is as follows. First, in order of seniority in the chamber, each incumbent chooses two committee assignments; incumbents may decide to retain current committee seats or choose among existing vacancies. However, a Senator who has served on a committee and lost a seat due to a change in the party ratio has priority over any and all Senators to claim the first vacancy on the committee. While such instances have been rare, they have occurred when party control of the Senate has changed.
Second, each newly elected Senator chooses seats in order of seniority, based on previous service in the Senate; previous service in the U.S. House of Representatives and length of service in the House; and previous service as a state governor. 6 Ties in seniority of freshmen are broken by draw. In addition, every newly elected Senator receives one assignment before any newly elected Senator receives a second assignment.
The Republican Leader has the authority to appoint half of all vacancies on each "A" committee. If there is an odd number of vacancies, the Leader can appoint half plus one of all vacancies.
Effective in the 108 th Congress, all Republican Members are offered two "A" committee slots in order of seniority. Each Member can retain only one "B" committee assignment from the previous Congress. Following this process, the Republican Leader makes any remaining "A" committee assignments.
Conference rules provide a guideline governing the time frame for Senators to choose among assignment options presented by the Committee on Committees. If a Senator is presented with selection options before noon on a given day, the Senator should notify the Committee on Committees of his or her decision by the close of business on that day. If a Senator is presented with selection options after noon on a particular day, then a decision should be made by noon on the next business day. This provision is designed to expedite the assignment process by preventing Senators from engaging in lengthy deliberation that could delay the assignment of Senators with less seniority.
Rank on each committee generally is determined by length of continuous service on the committee. If a Senator leaves a committee and returns in a subsequent Congress, the Senator likely would lose his or her previous seniority. However, the chair (or ranking member) of a committee need not be the Member with the longest committee service. 7
While nominations for assignment to "non-A" committees (except, officially, Rules and Administration) are at the discretion of the Republican leader, the leader generally follows the seniority formula used by the Committee on Committees. Moreover, the leader usually works in close cooperation with the chair and other members of the Committee on Committees.
Through this system, the assignment process is relatively consensus-oriented and automatic, and formal votes on nominees usually are not necessary. In assigning freshmen, the Committee on Committees does not consider the multiple factors relied upon by the Senate Democrats' party organization (discussed below); instead, the most important factor appears to be Senators' requests. Personal efforts to compete for committee seats appear to be minimal (though not unknown) as compared with Senate Democrats.
When the Committee on Committees and the Republican leader have finished their work, they submit their recommendations for assignment to the Republican Conference. For each committee, a slate of committee members in order of proposed seniority is presented for consideration. Voting by recorded written ballot, as specified by conference rules, ordinarily is not necessary. The conference usually adopts the recommendations by unanimous consent, presumably because they are based largely on seniority.
Once accepted by the Republican Conference, the assignment recommendations are packaged into one or more Senate resolutions that are submitted to the full Senate for approval, usually by the Republican leader. Because the resolutions are privileged, they can be brought up at any time. These resolutions are amendable and any Senator may demand a separate vote on the appointment of the chair or on the other members of a standing committee. However, the resolutions usually are adopted without incident. 8 Nominations rarely are challenged on the floor because it is in the parties where decisions are made; by custom, neither party has challenged the nominations of the other party. Indeed, the routine character of the Senate's approval of nominations highlights the importance of the nomination process.
In filling vacancies that occur on standing committees after their initial organization, Senate Republicans follow the same procedure used for each new Congress. Committee vacancies may occur during the course of a Congress because party leaders decide to change a committee's size or party ratio, or because Members die, change parties, or resign from the Senate. A new Senator replacing a late or former Senator may be chosen to fill the vacated committee seats. However, if the new Senator is of the opposite party from the departed Senator, adjustments in sizes and ratios often are needed to make slots for the new Senator. Moreover, incumbents also might seek to compete for the newly open committee seats, especially if they occur on one of the more prestigious panels, such as the Appropriations Committee or the Finance Committee. When an incumbent is chosen to fill a committee vacancy, that Senator often gives up an existing assignment to comply with party or chamber assignment limitations (although a waiver might be granted). This may cause a chain reaction involving a series of shifts of committee assignments.
There are three steps in the nomination and assignment process for Senate Democrats. The first is for the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to make nominations for committee assignments. The second consists of approval of the nominations by the Democratic Conference, which comprises all Democrats in the Senate. The final step is for the assignment rosters to be incorporated into one or more Senate resolutions and considered and approved by the full Senate. Senate Democrats do not have written rules governing this assignment process, as do Senate Republicans.
The size of the Steering and Outreach Committee is set by the Democratic Conference. The Democratic leader serves on the committee and appoints its members, subject to ratification by the conference. Steering and Outreach Committee members (except party leaders) may not serve simultaneously on the Democratic Policy Committee. Instead of chairing the panel, in the past few Congresses the Democratic leader has named another Senator as chair. In appointing Senators to vacancies, the Democratic leader attempts to achieve regional balance on the committee under a system that divides the country into four regions. The Steering and Outreach Committee continues from Congress to Congress, appointing Democratic Senators to vacancies as they arise.
In the 109 th Congress, the Steering and Outreach Committee had 18 members, including the Democratic leader, the Democratic whip, the chief deputy Democratic whip, and a deputy Democratic whip. While it is not composed exclusively of the most senior Democrats, the Steering and Outreach Committee includes many committee ranking members.
Once elected to the Senate, it is customary for new Democratic Senators to communicate committee preferences to the Steering and Outreach Committee. While the Democratic leader and the Steering and Outreach Committee chair generally solicit committee preferences from new Senators, incumbents desiring to switch committees usually initiate contact. Democrats are encouraged to submit their requests for assignment as early as possible. A Senator who delays risks the potential of not securing primary or even secondary requests. While the Steering and Outreach Committee does not require Senators to rank order their assignment preferences, many have done so in the past to give the committee alternatives if it is unable to grant initial requests.
It appears to be important for Senators-elect, in formulating their preferences, to consult with party leaders, Steering and Outreach Committee members, and the chairs (or ranking members) of preferred committees. This consultation acts both to notify senior Senators of a freshman's substantive interests and to inform the freshman Senator of the likelihood that he or she will be assigned to preferred committees.
The Steering and Outreach Committee organizes, and begins the process of making committee assignments, in November or December following the general election. Unlike its Senate Republican counterpart, the committee nominates Senators for assignment to every standing committee. Given that most returning Senators choose to retain their assignments from the previous Congress, most of the committee's work involves matching freshman Democrats with vacancies created by retirement or electoral defeat, as well as by adjustments in committee sizes and ratios.
In making nominations for committee assignments, the Steering and Outreach Committee is bound by the categories of committees and the limitations on committee assignments contained in Senate Rule XXV, discussed earlier. Within the confines of these restrictions, the Democratic Conference has formulated additional restrictions for its own members. One such restriction generally limits each Senator to service on no more than one of the "Super A," or "big four" "A," committees: Appropriations, Armed Services, Finance, and Foreign Relations. Senate Democrats also have an informal practice of prohibiting two Democratic Senators from the same state from serving on the same committee.
In addition to these chamber and party restrictions, the Steering and Outreach Committee considers many factors. These include Senators' preferences, state demographics, length of time since the state was last represented on the committee, perceived willingness to support the party, policy views, and personal and occupational backgrounds. Personal intervention, by the requesting Senator or another Senator, is sometimes helpful.
The Steering and Outreach Committee usually fills vacancies on "A" committees before slots on other panels. Because the Steering and Outreach Committee does not rely on a seniority formula in assigning Senators, its process is relatively less automatic than that of Senate Republicans. For Democrats, there are no rules guaranteeing priority in assignment to incumbents switching committees, or governing the seniority of freshmen in choosing assignments. However, a Senator who served on a committee but lost the seat due to a change in the party ratio generally receives priority in assignment to a vacancy on that committee.
Nominations for assignment are made on a seat-by-seat basis, and Steering and Outreach members usually make nominations by consensus. However, if significant competition exists for a particular seat, then secret balloting usually is conducted and the majority-vote winner is granted the nomination. Senators who do not win election to their most preferred committee seat are protected by the "Johnson Rule," providing that all Democrats are appointed to one "A" committee before any Senator receives a second assignment. 9
Rank on each committee generally is determined by length of continuous service on the committee. If a Senator leaves a committee and returns to it in a subsequent Congress, the Senator likely would lose his or her previous seniority. However, the ranking member (or chair) need not be the Member with the longest committee service. The committee rankings of Senators assigned to a committee at the same time generally are determined by their seniority in their party in the Senate. When an incumbent and a freshman are assigned to a committee at the same time, the incumbent ordinarily ranks higher than the freshman. Similarly, when elected, each freshman is given a seniority ranking among Senate Democrats, and his or her rank on committees is based on this overall chamber ranking.
Once all veteran and freshman Democratic Senators have been recommended for assignment, the roster is forwarded to the Senate Democratic Conference. While separate votes are possible, the conference usually ratifies the entire slate of assignments by unanimous consent.
After ratification, the assignment recommendations are packaged into one or more Senate resolutions and submitted on the Senate floor for adoption. The resolutions usually are submitted by the Democratic leader, and they can be brought up at any time because they are privileged. The resolutions also are amendable, and any Senator may demand a separate vote on the appointment of any member. However, the resolutions containing the committee rosters usually pass without debate, by voice vote. It is in the party where significant debate and decision-making already has occurred regarding committee assignments.
In filling vacancies that occur on standing committees after their initial organization, Senate Democrats follow the same procedure used for each new Congress. Committee vacancies may occur during the course of a Congress because party leaders decide to change a committee's size or party ratio, or because Members die, change parties, or resign from the Senate. A new Senator replacing a late or former Senator may be chosen to fill the vacated committee seats. However, if the new Senator is of the opposite party from the departed Senator, adjustments in sizes and ratios often are needed to make slots for the new Senator. Moreover, incumbents also might seek to compete for the newly open committee seats, especially if they occur on one of the more prestigious panels, such as the Appropriations Committee or the Finance Committee. When an incumbent is chosen to fill a committee vacancy, that Senator often gives up an existing assignment to comply with party or chamber assignment limitations (although a waiver might be granted.) This may cause a chain reaction involving a series of shifts of committee assignments.
Non-standing committees are divided between the so-called category "B" committees and category "C" committees. The Special Committee on Aging and the Joint Economic Committee, along with four standing committees, are included in the "B" category of committees. Under Senate rules, no Senator may serve on more than one "B" committee, whether standing or non-standing. The Select Committee on Ethics, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Joint Committees on Taxation, the Library, and Printing essentially are treated as "C" committees, although Joint Library and Joint Printing are not explicitly listed as such in Senate rules. The "C" committees are exempt from the assignment limitations in Senate rules, so a Senator may serve on any number of them without regard to his or her other assignments.
Specific rules regarding Senate membership on and appointments to non-standing committees often are contained in the legislation creating these panels. Thus, the procedures vary from committee to committee. A review of the legislation establishing the non-standing committees, and the appointment practices that have evolved, reveal that party leaders are usually included in the process.
The members of the Select Committee on Ethics and the Special Committee on Aging are elected by the Senate by resolution, essentially in the same manner as the standing committees. The Ethics Committee is the only Senate committee with an equal party ratio, consisting of three Senators from each party. 10 Republican members of both committees are chosen by the Republican leader and confirmed by the Republican Conference before election by the full Senate. Democratic members of the Ethics Committee are selected initially by the Democratic leader. In contrast, Democrats on the Aging Committee are nominated by the Steering and Outreach Committee and confirmed by the Democratic Conference before election by the full Senate.
Majority-party Senators are appointed to the Select Committee on Intelligence on the recommendation of the majority leader, and minority-party Senators on the recommendation of the minority leader. Senators are appointed to this committee from the Appropriations, Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary Committees, as well as from the Senate "at large." The majority and minority leaders, as well as the chair and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee serve on the committee as ex-officio , non-voting members. The resolution creating the Intelligence Committee provided for a rotation of membership; no Senator could serve on the committee for more than eight years of continuous service. To the extent practicable, one-third of the Senators appointed to the committee at the outset of each Congress should be Senators who did not serve on it in the preceding Congress. 11 S.Res. 445 , adopted October 9, 2004, ended the eight-year limitation on the Intelligence Committee.
The majority and minority leaders recommend Senators for appointment to the Committee on Indian Affairs, but the members are officially appointed by the President of the Senate (the Vice President of the United States). 12 Appointments to the Committee on Indian Affairs are announced to the Senate from the chair.
Ten Senators, six from the majority party and four from the minority party, are appointed to the Joint Economic Committee by the President of the Senate. The Senate membership of the Joint Committee on Taxation consists of five Senators from the Committee on Finance, three from the majority and two from the minority, chosen by the Finance Committee. 13 Appointments to both joint committees are announced to the Senate from the chair.
The Senate participants on the Joint Committee on the Library and the Joint Committee on Printing are selected by the Committee on Rules and Administration from among the committee's members. The chair and four other members of the Rules Committee are to serve on each joint committee. 14 However, in some Congresses, the House and Senate have agreed to a concurrent resolution allowing another member of the Senate Rules Committee to serve on the Joint Committee on the Library in place of the Rules Committee's chair. The membership of the Joint Committee on Printing typically includes not only the chair but also the ranking minority member of the Senate Rules Committee. Members of both joint committees are elected by the Senate by resolution.
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Michigan Republican loses committee posts for sharing racist theory online
Josh Schriver has privileges removed for social media post on ‘great replacement’ theory but can still vote on legislation
A Republican Michigan politician has been stripped of his office staff and committee assignments after sharing a social media post about the racist “great replacement” theory about a coordinated effort to diminish the influence of white people through immigration and low birth rates.
The Republican state representative Josh Schriver had his privileges removed by the Michigan house speaker, Joe Tate, but will still be able to vote on legislation.
The decision came a week after Schriver, a first-term lawmaker, uploaded a picture that depicted Black figures covering most of a map of the world, with white figures in small areas of Australia, Canada, northern Europe and the northern US.
The bottom of the graphic read “The great replacement!” The picture was originally posted by Jack Posobiec, a far-right pundit, and reposted on X by Schriver.
In a statement to the Detroit News last week , Schriver said he loved “all of God’s offspring” and believed “everyone’s immense value is rooted in the price Christ paid on the Cross when he died for our sins.
“I’m opposed to racists, race baiters, and victim politics,” Schriver said in the statement.
However, he then went on to repeat elements of the replacement theory. “What I find strange is the agenda to demoralize and reduce the white portion of our population. That’s not inclusive and Christ is inclusive! I’m glad Tucker Carlson and Jack Posobiec are sharing links so I can continue my research on these issues.”
The Great Replacement conspiracy theory has been cited as a motive for perpetrators of mass violence, including the white shooter who carried out the 2022 mass shooting of Black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket; the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh; the 2019 Poway, California, synagogue massacre; and the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting, which targeted Latinos.
After Schriver posted the image, Michigan’s Democrat governor, Gretchen Whitmer, condemned him and the failure of Republican leaders in not condemning the material.
“It is a failure of leadership for this kind of action to take place unchecked by the leaders of Representative Schriver’s caucus, and the longer there is no action taken, the more responsibility leadership bears,” Whitmer said.
In the decision to revoke Schriver’s privileges, Tate said Michigan’s legislative house would not be allowed to become “a forum for the proliferation of racist, hateful and bigoted speech.”
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Tate added that the lawmaker “had a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others”.
Among the privileges and assignments Schriver will lose include a committee on natural resources, environment, tourism and outdoor recreation, as well as a single staff member and a $132,000 office budget.
But some Republican legislators came to Schriver’s defense. State representative Matt Maddock said Schriver was a “great man without a racist bone in his body” who would emerge stronger from the “woke” leadership’s punishment.
But at least two other local Republicans did move to condemn Schriver. Representative Donni Steele said lawmakers must speak out “against hate whenever it rears its ugly head”, and senator John Damoose said Schriver’s post had nothing to do with conservative or American ideals.
“Such ideas truly have no place in our politics or our culture,” Damoose said. “By now, our nation should know better.”
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Virginia Politics | Virginia Beach Republican Barry Knight removed…
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Virginia politics | virginia beach republican barry knight removed from house appropriations committee.
RICHMOND — Barry Knight, a delegate from Virginia Beach, was removed Wednesday from the House Appropriations Committee, a powerful panel that spearheads state budget negotiations.
The clerk made the announcement on the House floor on behalf of Speaker Don Scott, but no explanation for the committee reassignments was given.
The move shuffles a veteran Republican lawmaker off the panel just days before the House and Senate money committees are slated to introduce their proposals for the state budget.
On Wednesday afternoon, Knight said he found out about his removal on the House floor.
“Nobody said anything to me,” he said.
Knight said he suspects it may be retribution for Monday, when Republicans and Democrats clashed over an abortion-related bill from a freshman Republican delegate. Democrats put the bill, which would have blocked state funding from being spent on abortion under any circumstances, on the floor to get a recorded vote on the controversial issue. Republicans wanted to amend the bill, but Scott ruled that the bill had to be voted on in its original form.
House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert challenged Scott’s ruling — a rare move. His effort was unsuccessful.
The abortion bill was then defeated 95-1 .
“I honestly don’t know, but it just seems like ever since Monday there’s been a lot of punitive damage to our side,” Knight said.
Knight added that he’s served on the committee through several speakers’ tenures.
“Five speakers thought that I was good enough to be on appropriations and this speaker evidently thought I was also early on,” he said. “I never engage in the back and forth with anybody.”
Current lawmakers and others filtered in and out of Knight’s office in the hours following the announcement. Gilbert, R-Woodstock, was among them. He said he had no explanation for the shake-up.
“I think you would have to ask the speaker why he did that,” Gilbert said “I don’t like to speculate.”
Committee assignments are made by Scott, a Portsmouth Democrat. He did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Morgan Hopkins, spokesperson for the House Democratic Caucus, said she had not spoken to Scott about the decision.
Knight previously chaired the appropriations committee when Republicans held the House. He was first elected in 2009, and now, will serve on the House Transportation Committee.
Del. Anne Ferrell Tata, another Virginia Beach Republican, will take Knight’s spot on the appropriations panel. She has served in the House since 2022. Tata, who previously served on the transportation committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
Republican membership on the Committee on Rules also was changed. Del. Amanda Batten, who represents Williamsburg and parts of James City County and New Kent, was removed from the committee and Del. Carrie Coyner, of Chesterfield, was added.
Benjamin Melusky, assistant professor of political science at Old Dominion University, said Knight’s removal is highly unusual.
“Typically, there is a degree of courtesy that exists between the two parties in terms of respecting membership on the committees from one session to the next,” he said. “It’s very strange to take somebody like Knight off, especially since he was a former chair and has been on the committee for some time.”
Melusky said it was also notable that a newer member of the House was selected to replace him.
“It can be seen as a reward for the service you’ve done,” said Melusky, explaining drudge work on minor committees or subcommittees is often required before a legislator is appointed to the major panels. “This is elevating someone who maybe hasn’t gone through the trenches yet.”
The professor said losing Knight’s institutional knowledge on the appropriations committee could have a significant impact, as the General Assembly is tasked this year with passing a two-year state budget plan.
Melusky added that committee removals, especially in the middle of session, are generally perceived as a type of punishment or censorship.
“You may see some more partisan friction after this,” he said.
Katie King, [email protected]
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GOP State Rep. Josh Schriver loses staff, committee post after sharing racist conspiracy
State Rep. Josh Schriver, R-Oxford, lost his staff and his spot on a legislative committee as punishment for sharing a social media post amplifying a racist conspiracy theory.
House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit, announced Monday his decision to reassign Schriver's staff and remove him from the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee. Additionally, resources typically made available to representatives will be held from Schriver by the House Business Office, according to the news release from Tate's office.
Last week, Schriver shared a post on X , formerly known as Twitter, from right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec with a graphic with the text "The great replacement!" showing a world map with white human figures in the U.S., Europe and Australia and black human figures dotted across the rest of the land. Tate and lawmakers from both parties condemned Schriver's post.
The conspiracy theory asserts that there is a coordinated and clandestine effort to replace white populations in majority-white countries, and has been described as racist and a "paranoid narrative," by the Southern Poverty Law Center .
The post drew sharp rebukes and condemnation from leading Democratic figures in Michigan, including Tate, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and other Democratic lawmakers. At least two Republican lawmakers also blasted the post.
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"The abhorrent rhetoric pushed by a member of the Michigan House of Representatives goes against our state and national values," Whitmer said in a statement released Friday. "We have a moral obligation to speak out against hatred. It is a failure of leadership for this kind of action to take place unchecked by the leaders of Rep. Schriver's caucus, and the longer there is no action taken, the more responsibility leadership bears."
On X, Schriver has continued to defend the post. He declined to return a message seeking comment Monday morning. When a reporter left a message asking for comment on Tate’s actions, Schriver replied by asking to be forwarded the announcement from Tate's office, which is publicly available on the House Democrats' website.
The great replacement theory has been widely condemned by anti-hate groups. In 2022, law enforcement officials investigated whether the theory was the motivation behind a mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people, according to the Associated Press . Most of the victims of the shooting were Black.
In explaining his decision to take action against Schriver, Tate said Schriver has elevated ideas associated with violence, threatening the safety of Michigan residents. "I will not allow the Michigan House of Representatives to be a forum for the proliferation of racist, hateful and bigoted speech," Tate said in a statement. "The House of Representatives is the people's house, and all Michiganders should look upon this body and take pride in how we conduct ourselves. It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure."
Despite the widespread admonitions from Democratic figures and groups, House Republican leadership has not issued any statements about Schriver's post. A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, didn't respond to a message seeking comment Monday morning.
Republican state Sen. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, condemned Schriver’s actions in a lengthy Facebook post Sunday .
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"I read with great horror yesterday a report of a Michigan state legislator advancing overtly cruel and racist ideas. I am sad to say this was a state representative who claims to be a member of my own Republican Party. But, let us be clear, his sickening words have nothing to do with the ideals we claim to uphold as Americans or conservatives," Damoose said.
State Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township, also issued a statement blasting Schriver's tweet. "All people have a moral obligation to speak out against hate whenever it rears its ugly head — this is one of those times," she said in a statement.
Schriver — a freshman lawmaker — was elected to the state House in November 2022, winning almost 65% of the vote in the 66th state House district that includes all of Addison, Brandon, and Oxford townships and part of Oakland Township in Oakland County, along with Bruce and Washington townships in Macomb County. Before serving as a state representative, he worked as a kindergarten teacher in Detroit and then as a behavior analyst to support children with autism and their families, according to his biography on the House GOP caucus' website.
Contact Arpan Lobo: [email protected] . Follow him on X (Twitter) @arpanlobo .
Contact Clara Hendrickson: [email protected] or 313-296-5743. Follow her on X, previously called Twitter, @clarajanehen .
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Republican Michigan lawmaker loses staff and committee assignment after online racist post
A Republican lawmaker in Michigan lost his committee assignment and staff Monday, days after posting an image of a racist ideology on social media.
House Speaker Joe Tate, a Democrat who is Black, said he will not allow the House to be a forum for “racist, hateful and bigoted speech.”
State Rep. Josh Schriver, who is white, shared a post on X — formerly known as Twitter — that showed a map of the world with Black figures greatly outnumbering white figures, along with the phrase, “The great replacement!”
The conspiracy theory says there’s a plot to diminish the influence of white people.
Schriver, who represents portions of Oakland and Macomb counties, can vote on the House floor. But Tate removed him from a committee and told the House Business Office to oversee his staff members, who still can assist constituents.
“Representative Schriver has a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others," Tate said.
A message seeking comment from Schriver wasn't immediately returned. He defended his social media post last week.
“I’m opposed to racists, race baiters and victim politics,” Schriver told The Detroit News. “What I find strange is the agenda to demoralize and reduce the white portion of our population."
Schriver was elected to a two-year term in 2022. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, released a statement Friday calling his post "abhorrent rhetoric."
“We will never let those who stoke racial fears divide us," she said.
Follow Ed White on X at https://twitter.com/edwritez