History of the House of Representatives

By George B. Galloway | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
ORGANIZATION OF THE HOUSE

UNDER THE CONSTITUTION as amended, Congress assembles at least once each year at noon on the 3rd of January, unless it shall by law appoint a different day.1 At the opening of the first regular session of each new Congress in the odd-numbered years, the House and Senate organize themselves anew. The manner in which the House organizes itself for business may be illustrated by the proceedings in that Chamber on January 3, 1957. Promptly at noon on that day Ralph Roberts, Clerk of the House during the Eighty-fourth Congress, called it to order and, after the Chaplain's prayer, directed a clerk to call the roll by states of members-elect whose credentials had been received. When the roll call had been completed, the Clerk announced that 428 members-elect had answered to their names and that a quorum was present. He also announced that credentials in regular form had been received showing the election of the delegates from Alaska and Hawaii and of the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico.

The chairmen of the Republican and Democratic party conferences then nominated Mr. Joseph W. Martin, Jr., and Mr. Sam Rayburn, respectively, for the office of Speaker. The Clerk appointed tellers to canvass the vote on the election of the Speaker and Mr. Rayburn was elected, having received a majority of the whole number of votes cast. Thereupon the Clerk declared that Mr. Rayburn had been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the Eighty-fifth Congress and appointed a committee to escort the Speaker to the Chair. The Speaker was escorted to the Chair by the committee and was introduced to the House by Mr. Martin. Mr. Rayburn then addressed the House, voicing his appreciation of his election and paying tribute to the principles and responsibilities of

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