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    Wednesday, 1 March 2017

    Formation of the American House of Representatives

    1. The American House of Representatives
    The American federal legislature, Congress, is bicameral. It consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate was created to protect the interests of small states and to check the radical tendencies of the lower chamber, the House of Representative. The Senate has the authority to check and correct the democratic recklessness of House and the monarchical ambition of the President. On the other hand the House of Representatives are the traditional lower chamber as we have got the National Assembly in Pakistan and the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.

    2. Basis of Representation
    According to the Constitution, "Each state shall have at least one representative irrespective of its population", and 'the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branches of the state legislatures'. In addition to it there must be at least one representative for at least 30, 000 population.

    3. Qualifications for Membership
    The Constitution prescribes the following qualifications for membership of the. House:
    (i) A person must be at least 25 Years of age.
    (ii) He must be a citizen and resident of American for at least seven years.
    (iii) He cannot hold any office of profit in the government during
    his membership of the House.
    (iv)The candidate must be an inhabitant of the state from where he intends to contest the election for seat of the House of Representatives. She must also be a resident of the district from where he intends to contest the election.

    4. Method of Election
    Electoral districts are formed in every .state for the return of deputies to-the House. The demarcation of the boundaries of electoral districts in a way as to favor the ruling group. Moreover, the electoral method carries all the defects implicit in single member constituencies. There is a possibility that a political party may get the majority of votes in the electoral districts while the other party may get majority within the House. Legislature of every state is authorized to decide about the time, place and method of election. The Congress, however, is empowered to make alteration in these laws.

    5. Duration
    The members of the House are elected for period of two years. That accounts for the comparatively low quality of its membership. The members try to get maximum benefits for their constituencies within short time so as to make the chances of their success bright in the next elections.

    6. Organization
    During its first meeting, the newly elected House elects and appoints a number of office bearers, such as Speaker, Clerk, Sergeant at arms, Religious guide etc.

    7. Speaker
    The most senior member of the House takes the oath of office from the Speaker, administers oath from all other members collectively.

    8. Sessions
    The Constitution requires that both House of the Congress must meet at least once a year. The president can summon extra-ordinary sessions. The sessions of both the House beings and ends simultaneously.

    9. Quorum
    According to Section 5 of Article 1, a majority of members constitutes the quorum. In other words, it means that unless 219 members are present in the House of Representatives it cannot do its business.
    It has been suggested that the quorum should be reduced. A smaller quorum, it is said, would lead to an improvement in the debate.

    10. Privileges
    The members of the House are entitled to the following privileges:-
    i. They enjoy freedom f expression on the floor of the House and cannot be questioned in a court of law for anything said in the House.
    ii. They are exempted from imprisonment during the sessions (except on the allegation of gross misconduct, treason or threat to public peace).
    iii. They are exempted from the impeachment
    iv. The House makes rules and regulations in respect of procedural matters and maintenance of discipline. It can punish any member for disorderly behavior and with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member and also pass a vote of censure.

    11. Constitutional Privileges

    Section 6 of Article 1 stipulates that the representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the session of their House, and in going and returning from the same; and for any speech or debates.

    12. Compensation
    The representatives are also given compensation. They receive a Each of 42,5000 dollars a year,. All of which' is subject to income tax from Washington member is allowed twenty cents per mile traveling expenses to and Washington once each session.

    13. Pension 
    The Congressional Re-organization Act other 1946 has provided a age of 62 who have served system for retired members reaching a minimum of six years and paid into the pension fund 6 per cent   of their salaries.

    14. The Speaker of the House
    After a new House is elected, its first duty is to organize' itself. The clerk of the last House presides. The roll can is taker to determine the presence of quorum. Then the oath of office is administered. Thereafter the House proceeds to elect its Speaker. In Great Britain, the Speaker is returned unopposed from his constituency as many times as he intends to be returned. But in America his election is always contested and he is never returned unopposed from his constituency. He is elected on party lines and remains partisan throughout his term.

    a. Election of the Speaker
     Though the constitution does not require the Speaker to be a member of the House. Yet only a member of the House makes choice. In practice, it is .always agreed upon by a, caucus composed of members of the majority party. If the same political party gets majority in the House, and the Speaker of the last Congress is returned, it is customary to re-election him. If same party is not returned in majority and there is a change in the relative strength of the parties as the result of an election, the next Speaker is likely to be the man who served as floor leader of his party when it was in minority. Thus, the Speaker is always the choice of the majority party. The House merely ratifies the choice.

    b. Powers of the speaker 
    The powers of the speaker may be summed up as under:

    i. The power to Preside and recognize 
    The Speaker conducts the proceeding of the House and recognizes the members. The rules of the House provide that if two or more members rise, "The Speaker shall, name the member who is first ' to speak"

    ii. The power to maintain order
    The Speaker maintains order and decorum in the House. The rules of the House in this respect are strict. The members must address the chair respectfully, must not wear hats or smoke in the House, and must obey the Speaker's rulings. If the Speaker calls any member to order he must immediately sit down. In case of disturbance or disorderly conduct the Speaker may either suspend business or instruct the giant-at-arms to quiet any disorder in the House. But the Speaker cannot censure, expel or punish a member. Only the House can do that.

    iii. The power to interpret the Rules
    The Speaker interprets the Rules of the House and applies them. Before 1910 the Speaker used to be the Chairman of the rules Committee.

     iv. The growth of the Speaker's authority
    The growth of the Speaker's authority and his denial of the right to debate in many cases led to a revolt in 1910 against his legislative dictatorship. In that year a group of insurgent Republicans combined with the Democrats and deprived the Speaker of the power to appoint the Committee on Rules and provided that the Speaker should henceforth be ineligible for membership of the Rules Committee.

    v. Other function of the Speaker
    (i) The deputies can take the floor only on the permission of the Speaker who allocates time for such speeches.
    (ii) This is the discretion of the Speaker to decide when the vote is to be taken during the deliberations he may ask for division and announce the results.
    (iii) The speaker of the House can nominate conference committees and select committees. In case the clerk of the House faces difficulty in deciding as to which committee a particular bill should be referred, the Speaker makes the final decision in this respect.
    (iv) All the bills passed by the House, all petitions, joint resolution and warrants got to be signed by the Speaker
    (v)Generally; the Speaker avoids casting his vote in the House, but in case of tie he may use his, casting vote to break the dead lock.

    (Vi) The Speaker of the House is fully authorized disallow the initiation of such moves as aim at obstructing the business of the House.
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