Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives)

Committee of the Whole (United States House of Representatives)

In the United States House of Representatives, the Committee of the Whole, short for Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, is a parliamentary device in which the House of Representatives is considered one large congressional committee. The presiding officer is chosen by the Speaker of the House and is normally a member of the majority party who does not hold the chair of a standing committee.

Procedurally, the Committee of the Whole differs from the House of Representatives even though they have identical membership. The Committee of the Whole only requires 100 members for a quorum, while only 25 members are required to force a recorded rather than voice vote. In the version of the Committee of the Whole that existed in the British House of Commons, the original use of this committee was to debate bills privately and prevent a recorded vote from being taken. It is normally invoked to give initial consideration of important legislation, including bills for raising revenue, and serves to expedite the process since debate over amendment occurs under a special five-minute rule. The House and the Committee of the Whole do not operate at the same time; rather, to consider bills, the House must resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole. To dissolve itself, the Committee of the Whole must "rise and report with a recommendation". The Committee of the Whole can recommend amendments to any bill. The House must then approve these amendments before the amendments are added to the final bill.

It allows bills and resolutions to be considered without adhering to all the formal rules of a House session, such as needing a quorum of 218. All measures on the Union Calendar must be considered first by the Committee of the Whole.[1]


Use in the United States Senate

The United States Senate used the Committee of the Whole as a parliamentary device until May 16, 1930, when the practice was abolished with respect to bills and joint resolutions. The Senate continued to utilize the Committee of the Whole for consideration of treaties until February 27, 1986,[2] with the passage of S.Res 28.[2]


Further reading

  • Sinclair, Barbara (1997). Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress. CQ Press. ISBN 1-56802-276-X.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries: