Rules of the House

Preface to the House Rules Manual
106th Congress

Recodification of House Rules (106th Congress)

105th Congress, 2d Session
House Document No. 105–358

Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual, and Rules

House of Representatives
United States One Hundred Sixth Congress

Charles W. Johnson, Parliamentarian


The House Rules and Manual contains the fundamental source material for parliamentary procedure used in the House of Representatives: the Constitution of the United States; applicable provisions of Jefferson’s Manual; rules of the House (as of the date of this preface); provisions of law and resolutions having the force of rules of the House; and pertinent decisions of the Speakers and other presiding officers of the House and Committee of the Whole interpreting the rules and other procedural authority used in the House of Representatives.

The rules for the One Hundred Sixth Congress were adopted on January 6, 1999, when the House agreed to House Resolution 5 and, later, House Resolution 9. House Resolution 5 consisted of (1) a recodification of the rules of the House for the One Hundred Fifth Congress in a revised structural format that reduces their number from 52 to 28 in a logical sequence, (2) a series of substantive changes to various standing rules as so recodified, and (3) separate free-standing orders constituting procedures to be followed in the One Hundred Sixth Congress, including the immediate consideration of House Resolution 9. House Resolution 9, adopted later the same day, changed the recodified clause 5 of rule XXVI on the acceptance of gifts. Explanations of the derivations of the recodified rules from the rules of the prior Congress, and of substantive changes, appear in the annotations following each rule in the text of this manual. Additionally, a table of cross-references showing major rule citation changes resulting from the recodification follows this preface.

The recodified format arranges the rules by addressing the organization and operation of the House as follows: duties of officers and Members (rules I–III), administration of the House (rules IV–VI), institutional prerogatives (rules VII–IX), committees (rules X–XI), consideration of legislation (rules XII–XXIII), conduct of Members, officers, and employees (rules XXIV-XXVII), and miscellaneous provisions (rule XXVIII). The recodification minimizes the change of some major rule citations in order to retain consistency with precedent and practice volumes already pub lished (e.g., germaneness remains clause 7 of rule XVI, and general appropriation bill matters remain clause 2 of rule XXI), although cross-references will be necessary in subsequent precedent and practice volumes where rule citations have changed.

References were changed in the recodification to incorporate accepted understandings without substantive change. For instance, ‘‘Delegates’’ and ‘‘the Resident Commissioner’’ are mentioned along with ‘‘Members’’ in those situations where the rules do not distinguish between statuses. They are omitted in rules addressing authorities or responsibilities that are limited to Members (such as voting, Committee of the Whole, and selection of presiding officers). Gender references are treated as in the United States Code, whereby a reference to ‘‘he’’ or ‘‘his’’ is defined in rule XXVIII to constitute a reference to ‘‘she’’ or ‘‘hers’’ where applicable. Provisos have been replaced by sentence restructuring to ensure clarity of meaning. The concept of a ‘‘privileged question’’ or ‘‘privileged motion’’ has been regularized, placing sundry references to matters ‘‘of highest privilege’’ or ‘‘in order at any time’’ or that ‘‘shall always be in order.’’ The generic reference to votes by the yeas and nays and recorded votes has been changed from ‘‘rollcall’’ to ‘‘record’’ votes. Supermajority voting requirements are consistently referred to as two-thirds or three-fifths ‘‘of the Members voting, a quorum being present.’’

The substantive changes provided by House Resolution 5 included:

(1) authorization for the Speaker to appoint and set pay for employees of the Office of the Historian (clause 7 of rule II);

(2) authorization to dispense by unanimous consent oral announcement of the form of a resolution offered as a question of privilege noticed under rule IX (clause 2(a)(1) of rule IX);

(3) redesignation of the Committee on House Oversight as the Committee on House Administration, of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as the Committee on Government Reform, and of the Committee on National Security as the Committee on Armed Services (clause 1 of rule X);

(4) elimination of the exception for the Budget Committee from general oversight responsibilities (clause 2(b) of rule X); (5) elimination of a provision added in the 104th Congress making consideration of resolutions funding each committee contingent on submission of its oversight plans (clause 2(d)(2) of rule X);

(6) modification of the deadline for submitting views and estimates to the Budget Committee (clause 4(f)(1) of rule X);

(7) specification of the size of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at 10 members (which was the de facto size of the committee in the 105th Congress, notwithstanding that the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 required each party caucus to nominate seven Members) and deletion of the requirement adopted in the 105th Congress that two Members from each party rotate off the committee each Congress (clause 5(a) of rule X);

(8) elimination of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure from the list of exceptions to the general rule limiting each committee to five subcommittees, and addition of an exception for committees that maintain a subcommittee on oversight (clause 5(d) of rule X);

(9) clarification of the procedure to permit staff questioning of witnesses in committee (clause 2(j) of rule XI); (10) clarification that committees may specify in a subpoena duces tecum terms of return other than at a meet-

ing or hearing (clause 2(m)(3)(B) of rule XI);

(11) elimination of general pairs (rule XX);

(12) expansion of the Speaker’s authority to postpone

further proceedings to include motions to instruct conferees pending their appointment (clause 8(a) of rule XX); (13) expansion of Speaker’s authority to reduce to five minutes the minimum time for electronic voting on a question postponed under clause 8 of rule XX to include questions incidental thereto and to permit the first postponed vote in a series to be a five-minute vote if it immediately follows a 15-minute vote (clause 8(c) and clause 9

of rule XX);

(14) elimination of the prohibition against including a

provision for a specific road in a bill providing for another specific road or in a general road bill (rule XXI).

(15) provisions amending the Code of Official Conduct to: (1) permit telecommuting by House employees (clause 8 of rule XXIV); and (2) include consultants among employees covered by certain provisions of the code of conduct (clause 14 of rule XXIV);

(16) provisions amending limitations on outside earned income to: (1) permit certain House employees to receive honoraria; and (2) clarify the definition of ‘‘honorarium’’ (clause 1 and clause 4 of rule XXVI);

House Resolution 5 also included a special order of business permitting a separate vote on a resolution to amend the gift rule to conform it to the Senate rule (H. Res. 9, amending clause 5 of rule XXVI).

The recodification project was first inspired by Wm. Holmes Brown, who retired as Parliamentarian in 1994 and who had prepared in 1985 a preliminary draft that served as a basis for the current restructuring. Special appreciation is extended to the members and staff of the Committee on Rules who served on the bi-partisan Task Force on Recodification during the 105th Congress for their cooperation with the Office of the Parliamentarian in its preparation. Deputy Parliamentarians John Sullivan and Tom Duncan, and Assistant Parliamentarians Muftiah McCartin, Tom Wickham, and Ethan Lauer worked diligently to prepare the codification and to annotate the decisions of the Chair and other parliamentary precedents of the 105th Congress and of the 106th Congress to date of publication. Gay Topper, Deborah Khalili, and Brian Cooper contributed their clerical skills to the preparation of this edition. All of their contributions, especially those of Muftiah McCartin in the preparation of this Manual, are gratefully acknowledged.

Citations in this edition refer to:

(1) Hinds’ Precedents of the House of Representatives of the United States (volumes I through V) and Cannon’s Precedents of the House of Representatives of the United States (volumes VI through VIII), by volume and section (e.g., V, 5763; VIII, 2852);

(2) Deschler’s Precedents of the U. S. House of Representatives (volumes 1 through 9) and the Deschler-Brown Precedents of the U. S. House of Representatives (volumes 10 through 15), by volume, chapter, and section (e.g., Deschler’s Precedents, vol. 8, ch. 26, sec. 79.7; Deschler-Brown Precedents, vol. 10, ch. 28, sec. 4.26);

(3) the Congressional Record, by date and page (e.g., Jan. 29, 1986, p. 684);

(4) House Practice (1996), by page (e.g., House Practice, p. 293);

(5) Deschler-Brown Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives (4th edition and 1987 supplement), by chapter and section (e.g., Procedure, ch. 5, sec. 8.1);

(6) the United States Code, by title and section (e.g., 2 U.S.C. 287); and (7) the United States Reports, by volume and page (e.g., 395 U.S. 486).

Charles W. Johnson
September 20, 1999

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