Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
COMMITTEE SERVICE IN THE HOUSE

THE career of a Member of either House of Congress is determined, except in rare cases, by his assignment to Committees. In the House that is wholly dependent on the favor of the Speaker. In the Senate those assignments are made by Committees of the two parties, chosen for the purpose, who first agree on the representation to be assigned to each. After the Senator has been assigned to a Committee he remains there unless he himself desire a change, and if the Members older in the service retire he succeeds in the end to the Chairmanship of the Committee. There has been no instance of a departure from this rule, except when there is a change in the political control of the body, and no instance of deposing a Member from a Committee without his consent, except the single and well-known case of Mr. Sumner.

I was always on friendly terms with Mr. Blaine during my entire service of eight years in the House of Representatives. But I owed nothing to any favor of his in the matter of Committee assignments. When I entered the service I was put on the Committee of Education and Labor and on the Committee of Revision of the Laws, both obscure and unimportant. In my second term I served a little while on the Committee on Elections. I was also placed on the Committee of Railroads and Canals. I was made Chairman of a special Committee to visit Louisiana and inquire into the legality of what was called the Kellogg Government and report whether Governor Kellogg or his Democratic rival should be recognized as the lawful Governor of Louisiana. I was afterward placed on the Judiciary Committee, a position of great honor, which I liked very much.

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