How Do Standing Committees In The U.S. Congress Work?


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A major portion of the work is done through the Standing Committees in America. A Standing Committee generally consists of 12 members but membership can be decreased or increased. Each party is represented on these Committees in proportion to its strength in the House. The members of these Committees are chosen by the party leader. The House merely endorses the choice of the party leaders. A Standing Committee is often referred to as the 'House in Miniature'.

The Chairman of each Committee is selected by seniority rule as the senior most member of the majority party represented on a particular Committee becomes its President. By this method, only experienced men can become Chairmen of these Committees. But the system is not without defects. A new man who is able and experienced cannot have a chance to serve as a Chairman. A Chairman has an important role to play. He guides and directs the proceedings of the Committee, leads the debates and reports their results of the House.

Before the passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, there were some 47 Standing Committees, but their number was reduced to 19 under the Act. There are 15 such Committees in the Senate. The more important of them are Committees on ways and means, appropriation. Banking and Currency, Military Affairs, Public Land, etc. The Standing Committees in the United States have a very great importance. The bills are referred to these Committees before the principles there of are approved by the house.

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