Rules of the House

views updated


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 .