The Types of Committees within the U.S. Congress and their Duties Essay Sample
There are four types of committees within the House and the Senate, they are: the Standing Committees, the Select or Special Committees, the Joint Committees and the Conference Committees. Currently in the United States there are twenty one permanent committees in the House, twenty in the Senate and four joint committees. Each committee has several subcommittees that share specific tasks within the jurisdiction of the full committee.
The House’s Standing Committees are permanent House panels. The Standing Committees have legislative jurisdiction, therefore they consider bills and issues. They also suggest measures for deliberation by the full House. They are also responsible for monitoring agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions. “The Standing Committees have the power to examine and inquire into all such things as the House might refer, report from time to time, append supplementary or dissenting opinions to reports, send for persons, papers, and records; sit when the House is sitting or when the House stands adjourned, sit jointly with other committees of the House, print from day to day such papers and evidence as the committee may order, and delegate powers to subcommittees – except the power to report directly to the House. (Pursuant to Standing Order 108(1))”
The House has nineteen Standing Committees and eighty six Subcommittees. The Subcommittees do most of the work at their level. When the bill is dropped or introduced it is sent to the committee with the jurisdiction of that bill. The subcommittee determines whether or not the bill moves up to the full committee; unless there is a discharge petition. The head of the Subcommittee is the chairman; he has the right to ignore or mark up the bill. The leadership chooses the chairman, who in turn chooses the members of the committee. Each representative serves on about two full committees and four subcommittees.
The Special or Select Committees of the House are frequently created for restricted periods of times. They conduct studies or investigations and they consider other measures. The Select Committees serve for only one congress, which is a period of two years. Their powers are set out in the Order of Reference of the House that establishes each committee. An example of a special or select committee is the Special Committee on Aging. These committees are created to study a specific area – they have a specific jurisdiction, function and responsibility.
The Joint Committees are composed of members from the House and the Senate. They are permanent panels that carry out studies or perform housekeeping tasks. They assist focus the public awareness towards vital issues.
The last committee are the Conference Committees. These committees are temporary; they are set up to work out the differences between similar bills between the House and the Senate. They draft compromises and they present the final bill for approval.
The House committees only posses the power, structure, and mandates that the House allots to them. They are bound to follow the procedures set out, as well as any other special orders given to them. The House is more structured and has more rules as opposed to the Senate. Both the House and the Senate have leadership. The House has the Speaker of the House; this person represents the House as a whole, and is usually an elected representative from the majority party. This person is also third in line to be president should any thing happen to the president or the vice president. After the speaker of the House are the Majority Leader, his whip; the Minority Leader, and his whip. The whip basically keeps his party “whipped” in shape. They are supposed to know how the votes will turn out and who will vote which way. The Senate’s presiding officer is the Vice President, his main job is to vote if there is a tie. After him is the President pro tempore, he is the one who runs the senate. There is also the Majority Leader – he is the most powerful in the Senate – his whip, the Minority Leader and his whip.
The Senate’s Standing Committees are divided into three classes: class A, class B, and class C. “Senators are limited to service on two Class A committees and one Class B committee. Assignment to Class C committees is made without reference to a member’s service on any other panels. ” There are sixteen Standing Committees and sixty eight Subcommittees. Each senator serves on three to four full committees and seven subcommittees.
“Select and special committees fall into either the Class B or the Class C category. They are created for clearly specified purposes and, although those that currently exist are now considered permanent; they did not necessarily enjoy that status at their inception”The Appropriation Committee has allocated billions of dollars to different departments and bills (homeland security and veterans). The budgets being passed are much higher than what the President proposed, and because of this he has threatened to veto the bills. The republicans have managed to get enough votes to ensure that the veto will not be overridden by congress. This bill has been passed 268 to 150, but the Senate has not passed this legislation yet. “Perhaps the most hotly contested part of the bill is a requirement that department contractors pay their employees at least the local prevailing wage. The provision, part of broader Democratic efforts to enact legislation being pushed by unions, would allow the president to waive so-called Davis-Bacon restrictions only in times of national emergency.
The House bill also withholds financing for the department’s new personnel management system until litigation with unions and employees is resolved. In early 2005, they filed suit, asserting that the system would give managers undue power to reward, punish and reassign employees.
Republicans failed in an effort to remove that section from the bill. They also objected to restrictions imposed on the $1 billion allocated to constructing a fence along the Mexican border. Before the money could be allocated, under the Democrats’ plan, communities in the area would have to be consulted.”