Introduction to the Digital Edition
This digital version of the Congressional Institute’s Floor Procedures Manual for the U.S. House of Representatives is designed to assist the public, Members of Congress and their staff members in better understanding and following the daily activities on the Floor of the U.S. House. Two hundred thirty-two years of legislative evolution have created procedures that are occasionally viewed as archaic. But these procedures evolved from experience in ways to enhance the operations of the Congress. The goal of such procedures is to enhance civility and order in the debate of ideas while reducing personal animosity and chaos. Since the House establishes and follows its own rules, not Robert’s Rules of Order or other parliamentary conventions, as is often assumed, its rules constantly evolve to meet the challenges of the day. The rules are adopted by majority vote at the time a new Congress organizes, following each Federal election. This version reflects the Rules adopted for the 117th Congress, which convened in January of 2021. This digital version includes an introduction written by the Hon. Jim McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, plus the full content of the printed version. Please offer your suggestions on ways we can make this more useful to citizens, students, and congressional professionals by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduction to the Print Edition
Learn the rules and understand the precedents and procedures of the House. The congressman who knows how the House operates will soon be recognized for his parliamentary skills – and his prestige will rise among his colleagues, no matter what his party.House Speaker John W. McCormack (1962-1971) of Massachusetts, giving advice to new House Members
Committee on Rules
The deliberative nature of our representative democracy requires widespread knowledge of the legislative process among both Members and the electorate. This manual is designed to provide House Members, Congressional staff, and the American public with a concise, yet informative user guide to the basic legislative process in the House of Representatives. As an addendum to the Rules of the House and Jefferson’s Manual, this easy-to-use manual will enable Members to better monitor and participate in the legislative proceedings of the House.
The House of Representatives is the People’s House and its legislative process and daily activities should be comprehensible to both its Members and their constituents. I believe this manual will assist in achieving this goal.
Over the years, a number of individuals have contributed to the evolution and development of this document. Most notable were the Honorable Robert E. Bauman, former Member of the House from Maryland, who wrote the original version of this manual over three decades ago, and the Honorable Robert S. Walker, former Member of the House from Pennsylvania, who revised and updated it in 1994. It was subsequently updated in 1997 by the former Chair of the Rules Committee, the late Gerald B.H. Solomon, as part of its Parliamentary Outreach Program and has since been updated by the Committee on Rules under several Chairs.
Sincere appreciation and acknowledgment must go to the Office of the Parliamentarian, the Congressional Research Service, and the Democratic staff of the House Rules Committee for their contributions. The Congressional Institute deserves special thanks for its support and contributions under the able leadership of its President, Mark Strand, and its former President, Jerry Climer. The Institute is invaluable to the publication and distribution of this manual.
James P. McGovern
Committee on Rules