Budget Counsel Reference Directory

Deschler’s Precedents

Summary

The set of documents collectively known as Deschler’s Precedents. The primary purpose is to collect, as the title indicates, the “precedents” of the House of Representatives. Though the collection of precedents is the primary purpose of these volumes, they are invaluable since they also describe the legislative and parliamentary procedures of the House. In particular, an understanding of budget law would be incomplete without familiarity with its intersection with the Rules and Precedents of the House.

Chapter 41, included in Volume 18, is devoted to budget process. To the extent practical and depending on the time available to accomplish the task, provisions of  this chapter, and others when possible, have been used to help describe the various sections of budget law found in the Codex.

The precedents of the House fall into three main categories: (1) the rulings or decisions of the Speaker or Chairman, which are generally made in resolving a point of order or parliamentary inquiry; (2) the decisions or conclusions, express or implied, which emanate from the House itself without objection being made; (3) precedents sub silento–that is, practices or procedures of the House which are never specifically ruled on. 

A “precedent” may be broadly defined as a ruling, decision, or conclusion of the Speaker or Chairman or even a longstanding practice or custom of the House that is applied in settling some question or issue concerning the House or its committees or Members.(24) The rulings of the Speaker or Chairman are the most common examples of the precedents of the House, and are applied in the interpretation of the House rules.

The formal titles vary depending on the title of the 18 Volumes of the set and the Parliamentarian of the House added to it: Deschler’s Precedents (Volumes 1-9 are “Deschler”; 10-15 are “Deschler-Brown”, Volumes 16-17 are  “Deschler-Brown-Johnson” and Volume 18 is ” “Deschler-Brown-Johnson-Sullivan”. 

While Chapter 41 is the last, it is the most important when it comes to Budget Process, and in fact is names exactly that. While other volumes contain invaluable information as well, this chapter encapsulates House budget rules better than any other resource: 

Budget Process – Chapter 41 of Volume 18

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Introduction

Lewis Deschler, parliamentarian of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1928 to 1974, was authorized by Public Law 89-90 “to compile and prepare for printing the parliamentary precedents of the House of Representatives, together with such other materials as may be useful in connection therewith, and an index digest of such precedents and other materials.” These materials were prepared and published as House Document 94-661 in accordance with Public Law 94-551.

As stated in the preface to Deschler’s Precedents, “[t]hese volumes set forth and analyze the modern precedents of the House of Representatives…. It is the function of these volumes to review the precedents from 1936 through the first session of the 93d Congress, except as otherwise noted.” The compilation has since been expanded to include precedents developed beyond the 94th Congress. By law, the precedents must be updated every two years.

Since 1976, Deschler’s Precedents has been prepared under the supervision of Wm. Holmes Brown, Parliamentarian from 1974 to 1994, as is reflected in the name of volumes 10 through 16 (Deschler-Brown Precedents).

Deschler’s Precedents currently consists of 41 chapters, which, are arranged in the approximate sequential order in which the subjects covered occurred or arose in the House. Each chapter is subdivided into sections. A section may be as short as a single page, or it may be significantly longer. The first chapter is typically preceded by introductory materials, such as the authorizing legislation for the compilation, the preface, acknowledgements, tributes, and a table of abbreviations and terms. These materials are also divided into sections.

Deschler’s Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives

The most significant rulings of the chair, as compiled by Lewis Deschler, House parliamentarian from 1928 to 1974, and his successors, are presented in a series of volumes known as Deschler’s Precedents[1] Eighteen volumes have been published.

These volumes are organized such that topical chapters provide individual precedents. The chapter topics parallel those of House Procedure. The volumes published cover through chapter 41 (the Budget Process chapter).

Each precedent is assigned a section number and carries a headnote in bold type that summarizes the principle illustrated by the precedent. The full text of the procedural exchange the established precedent is provided, with Congressional Record citation. Many chapters in the Precedents contain introductory sections that describe the principles related to the House rule or practice under discussion with references to important precedents. A “parliamentarian’s Note” follows a few, selected precedents to direct the reader to other parliamentarian reference sources, or to clarify the principle established by the precedent.

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[1] Deschler’s Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives (in 18 Volumes; Volumes 10-15 are formally titled Deschler-Brown Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volumes 16-17 are titled Deschler-Brown-Johnson, and Volume 18 is titled Deschler-Brown-Johnson-Sullivan).


Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 1 (Chapter 1 through Chapter 6)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 2 (Chapter 7 through Chapter 9)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 3 (Chapter 10 through Chapter 14)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 4 (Chapter 15 through Chapter 17)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 5 (Chapter 18 through Chapter 20)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 6 (Chapter 21)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 7 (Chapter 22)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 7 (Chapter 23)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 7 (Chapter 24)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 7 (Chapter 25)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 8 (Chapter 26)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 9 (Chapter 27)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 10 and Volume 11 (Chapter 28)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 12 and Volume 13 (Chapter 29)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 14 (Chapter 30)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 15 (Chapter 31)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 16 (Chapter 32 through Chapter 33)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 17 (Chapter 34 through Chapter 40)

Deschler’s Precedents – Volume 18 (Chapter 41)

Budget Process – Chapter 41 of Volume 18


References:

Man of Many Rules – Lewis Deschler

Lewis Deschler, 71, Dies; Ex‐House Parliamentarian

GPO Links: 

H. Doc. 94-661 – Deschler’s Precedents, Contents

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