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Jurisdictional Commentary

From the House Rules and Jefferson Manual

The Committee on Rules

Rule X, clause 1

(m) Committee on Rules.

(1) Rules and joint rules (other than those relating to the Code of Official Conduct) and the order of business of the House.

(2) Recesses and final adjournments of Congress.

This Committee, which had existed as a select committee from 1789, became a standing committee in 1880 (IV, 4321; VII, 2047). The Speaker was first made a member of the Committee in 1858 (IV, 4321), and ceased to be a member on March 19, 1910 (VII, 2047). However, the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 deleted from the former rule the prohibition against the Speaker serving on the Committee. The size of the Committee was increased from 12 to 15 members for the 87th Congress (Jan. 31, 1961, p. 1589), and the increase in the Committee's size was incorporated as a part of the rules in the 88th Congress (Jan. 9, 1963). Effective January 3, 1975, however, the rules were amended to eliminate prescriptions of committee sizes (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct. 8, 1974, p. 34470), and in the 94th through the 98th Congresses 16 members were named to the Committee on nominations from the respective party caucuses (see, e.g., H. Res. 76, Jan. 20, 1975, p. 803; H. Res. 101, Jan. 28, 1975, p. 1611), and in the 99th through 101st Congresses, 13 members were named to the Committee on nominations from the respective party caucuses (see, e.g., H. Res. 34, 35, Jan. 30, 1985, p. 1271, 1273). The jurisdiction defined in this paragraph became effective January 2,1947, as a part of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (60 Stat.812). The last sentence, formerly designated as subparagraph (3) (H.Res. 5, Jan. 5, 1993, p. ----), is from section 134(c) of the 1946 Act, but the Committee has had authority to sit during sessions of the House since 1893 (IV, 4546), even during the five-minute rule under clause 2(i) of rule XI. The subject of recesses and adjournments was formerly under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means. In section 402(b) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344, July 12, 1974), the Committee was given specific authority to report emergency waivers of the required reporting date for bills and resolutions authorizing new budget authority. That authority was incorporated into this rule, effective January 3, 1975 (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct. 8, 1974, p. 34470), but was repealed as obsolete in the 102d Congress (H. Res. 5, Jan. 3, 1991, p. 39). Jurisdiction over rules relating to official conduct and financial disclosure was transferred to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on April 3, 1968 (H. Res.1099, 90th Cong.), but in the 95th Congress, jurisdiction over rules relating to financial disclosure by Members, officers, and employees of the House was returned to this Committee (H. Res. 5, Jan. 4, 1977, pp. 53-70).

The jurisdiction of this Committee is primarily over propositions to make or change the rules (V, 6770, 6776; VII, 2047), for the creation of committees (IV, 4322; VII, 2048), and directing them to make investigations (IV, 4322-4324; VII, 2048). Effective January 3, 1975, however, the authority for all committees to conduct investigations and studies was made a part of the standing rules (clause 1(b) of rule XI), as was the authority for all committees to sit and act whether the House is in session or has adjourned, and authority to issue subpoenas (clause 2(m) of rule XI) (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct. 8, 1974, p. 34470). The Committee also reports resolutions relating to the hour of daily meeting and the days on which the House shall sit (IV, 4325), and orders relating to the use of the galleries during the electoral count (IV, 4327). Since (NOTE: Sec. 682b. Special orders.) 1883 the Committee on Rules has reported special orders providing times and methods for consideration of special bills or classes of bills, thereby enabling the House by majority vote to forward particular legislation, instead of being forced to use for the purpose the motion to suspend the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote (IV, 3152; V, 6870; for forms of, IV, 3238-3263). Special orders may still be made by suspension of the rules (IV, 3154) or by unanimous consent (IV, 3165, 3166; VII, 758); but it is not in order, by motion in the House, to provide that a subject be made a special order by a motion to postpone to a day certain (IV, 3164). But before the adoption of rules, and consequently before there is a rule as to the order of business, a Member may offer a special order for immediate consideration (V, 4971, 5450). A special order reported by the Committee on Rules must be agreed to by a majority vote of the House (IV, 3169).

It is not in order to move to postpone a special order providing for the consideration of a class of bills (V, 4958), but a bill which comes before the House by the terms of a special order merely assigning the day for its consideration may be postponed by a majority vote (IV, 3177-3182). A motion to rescind a special order is not privileged under the rules regulating the order of business (IV, 3173, 3174; V, 5323). A motion to amend the rules of House does not present a question of privilege (VIII, 3377, overruling VIII, 3376; see also rule IX and Sec. 664, supra), and it is not in order by raising a question of the privileges of the House under rule IX to move to direct the Committee on Rules to consider a request to report a special order of business (Speaker Albert, June 27, 1974, p. 21599), or to direct the Committee on Rules to meet, to elect a temporary chairman (in the temporary absence of the chairman) and consider special orders of business (Speaker Albert, July 31, 1975, p. 26250). For further discussion of the Committee on Rules, see Secs. 729a-731, infra.

Section 682a of the House Rules and Manual for the 105th Congress, pages 411-412.