Skip to main content

Rules of the House


RULES OF THE HOUSE. The rules of the U.S. House of Representatives and the ever-increasing thousands of precedents that influence their interpretation constitute one of the most complete bodies of parliamentary law in the world, rivaled, perhaps, only by that of the British House of Commons. The size of the House (since 1912, fixed at 435 members) and its immense volume of proposed legislation require strict regulation of the actions of members while in session. The Constitution gives the House the right to make its own rules, which are adopted anew by each Congress, usually with few or no changes. The objectives of the rules are complex and hard to reconcile: to enable the majority to work its will while protecting the rights of the minority, and to legislate expeditiously while avoiding reckless haste.


Currie, David P. The Constitution in Congress: The Federalist Period, 1789–1801. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Polsby, Nelson W. Congress and the Presidency. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1986.

Pyle, Christopher H., and Richard M. Pious. The President, Congress, and the Constitution: Power and Legitimacy in American Politics. New York: Collier Macmillan, 1984.

D. B.Hardeman/a. g.

See alsoBlocs ; Colonial Assemblies ; Delegation of Powers ; Majority Rule ; Reed Rules .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Rules of the House." Dictionary of American History. . 18 Jun. 2019 <>.

"Rules of the House." Dictionary of American History. . (June 18, 2019).

"Rules of the House." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved June 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.