[Deschler's Precedents, Volume 1, Chapters 1 - 6]
[Chapter 1.  Assembly of Congress]
[A. Meeting and Organization]
[§ 6. Election of the Speaker]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


[Page 36-42]
 
                               CHAPTER 1
 
                          Assembly of Congress
 
                      A. MEETING AND ORGANIZATION
 
Sec. 6. Election of the Speaker

    Ordinarily, the second order of business at the opening of a new 
Congress, after the ascertainment of a quorum through the calling of 
the Clerk's roll, is the election of the Speaker.(13) 
Although a motion, of privileged character, was formerly made to 
proceed to the election of the Speaker,(14) in contemporary 
practice the Clerk simply declares to the House that the election of 
the Speaker is the next order of business.(15) In early 
Congresses, the motion was used to determine the method by which the 
Speaker would be elected;(16) since 1839, however, the 
Speaker has been chosen by viva voce vote on a roll call with tellers, 
and Members respond with the name of the nominee of their choice when 
called on the roll.(17) Although the Clerk appoints tellers 
for the election,(18) the House and
                         
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not the Clerk determines what method of voting to use.(1) A 
majority vote of those Members or Members-elect present, if a quorum, 
suffices to elect a Speaker.(2)
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13. ``The House of Representatives shall chose their Speaker and other 
        Officers. . . .'' U.S. Const. art. I, Sec. 2, clause 5. For the 
        procedure of the election in general, see Sec. 6.1, infra.
            The priority of the election of the Speaker is dictated by 
        2 USC Sec. 25, requiring the administration of the oath to him, 
        and by him to Members and to the Clerk, before the House enters 
        into other business.
14. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 212-14. The motion is debatable (1 
        Hinds' Precedents Sec. 213), and is of higher privilege than a 
        motion to correct the Clerk's roll. 1 Hinds' Precedents 
        Sec. Sec. 19-24.
            On one occasion, the Speaker held the motion to adjourn 
        preferential over a resolution declaring the office of Speaker 
        vacant and providing for the election of a Speaker. 8 Cannon's 
        Precedents Sec. 2641.
15. See Sec. 6.1, infra.
16. See 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 204-11.
17. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 187 (the Speaker was, in early Congresses, 
        elected by ballot).
18. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 217. See Sec. 6.1, infra.
 1. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 210.
 2. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 215-16. Twice the Speaker has been 
        chosen by a plurality vote, but on both occasions the vote was 
        confirmed by a majority vote. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 221. For 
        one instance where the Speaker was elected by resolution, see 
        Sec. 6.3, infra. Members not on the Clerk's roll are not 
        allowed to vote for Speaker (see Ch. 2, infra).
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    After announcing that the House will proceed to the election of a 
Speaker, the Clerk accepts nominations of candidates for the office. 
There are usually two nominations, one from the chairman of each party 
caucus or conference.(3) The Clerk announces the result of 
the vote, and declares the chosen Member to be the duly elected Speaker 
of the House.(4) A committee, appointed by the Clerk, then 
escorts the Speaker-elect to the Chair. The Minority Leader presents 
the Speaker-elect to the membership,(5) and he addresses the 
House and requests a Member-elect, usually the oldest Member in 
continuous service, to administer the oath to him.(6) The 
codified oath administered to the Speaker is the same as that used by 
him to swear in the Members-elect.(7)
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 3. See Sec. 6.1, infra.
 4. If the House authorizes the election of the Speaker by a plurality 
        vote instead of a majority vote, the declaration naming the 
        elected Speaker must be made by the House, through a 
        resolution, and not by the Clerk or by a Member. 1 Hinds' 
        Precedents Sec. 222.
 5. After the election of the Speaker and before he has been conducted 
        to the chair no debate or business is in order. 1 Hinds' 
        Precedents Sec. 219.
 6. ``[T]he oath of office shall be administered by any Member to the 
        Speaker . . . . '' 2 USC Sec. 25.
            Although the practice is to have the dean of the House 
        administer the oath to the Speaker (1 Hinds' Precedents 
        Sec. Sec. 130-33), the custom is not always followed. 6 
        Cannon's Precedents Sec. Sec. 6-7.
 7. The Constitution requires, in art. VI, clause 3, that all Members 
        (including the Speaker) take the oath, whose form is found at 5 
        USC Sec. 3331.
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    In most Congresses a Speaker has been elected and sworn well before 
the end of opening day; however, election contests for the office of 
Speaker have consumed up to nineteen days at the beginning of new 
Congresses.(8) On one occasion, the House requested all 
candidates for the Speaker's office
                         
[[Page 38]]

to state their opinions upon important political questions before 
proceeding to the election.(9) The most recent protracted 
contest over the Speaker's election, in 1923, could not be resolved 
until after the procedure for the adoption of rules had been 
presented,(10) contrary to the usual practice of postponing 
consideration or adoption of rules until after the election of the 
Speaker.(11)
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 8. See 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 221-23; 5 Hinds' Precedents 
        Sec. Sec. 5356, 6647, 6649; 6 Cannon's Precedents Sec. 24.
 9. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 218.
10. See 6 Cannon's Precedents Sec. 24.
11. Although specific rules as to debate and decorum have been adopted 
        before the election of the Speaker (1 Hinds' Precedents 
        Sec. Sec. 94-102), the House has construed the Act of June 1, 
        1789, Ch. 1, Sec. 2, 1 Stat. 23, as amended, 2 USC Sec. 25 
        (1948), to require the election of the Speaker and the 
        administration of the oath to him and to Members-elect to take 
        precedence over other organizational business. 1 Hinds' 
        Precedents Sec. Sec. 130, 140.
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    The election of a new Speaker may occur at the beginning of a 
second or third session, or during a session, when the Speaker dies in 
office. The procedure followed by the House in that situation is 
substantially the same as that used at the beginning of a new 
Congress;(12) the Clerk, by tradition and by rule, presides 
at such elections since the authority of the Speaker pro tempore, if 
one has been appointed or elected, terminates with the death of the 
Speaker.(13) One difference in election procedure between 
that at the opening of a Congress and that during the term is that in 
the latter situation the quorum to elect is established through the 
calling of the roll alphabetically by name and not by 
state,(14) although in former times the call was by state in 
both instances.(15) One further distinction is that a 
Speaker elected during a Congress must resign from the committees on 
which he has served while a Member,(16)
                         
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whereas at the beginning of a new Congress the election of the Speaker 
takes place well before the making of committee assignments.
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12. See, in general, 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 224-26, 231-34; see 
        also Sec. Sec. 6.6-6.7, infra.
            Although a Member who is chosen Speaker after organization 
        of the House has already taken the oath of office as a Member, 
        it must be administered to him again upon election as Speaker. 
        1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 225.
13. Rule III clause 1, House Rules and Manual Sec. 637 (1973), 
        specifically provides for the Clerk to preside pending the 
        Speaker's election. See also 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 232, 
        234, and Sec. 6.6, infra.
14. See Sec. 6.8, infra. For an occasion where a quorum was not 
        established before the election of the Speaker, see Sec. 6.3, 
        infra (the Speaker was elected by resolution).
15. See 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. Sec. 232, 234.
16. 1 Hinds' Precedents Sec. 230. See Sec. 6.5, infra. For the 
        Speaker's competence to hold committee assignments, see Ch. 6, 
        infra.
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Procedure for Election of Speaker

Sec. 6.1 The election of the Speaker at the beginning of a new 
    Congress, presided over by the Clerk of the previous Congress, 
    proceeds as follows: declaration by the Clerk of the election of 
    the Speaker as the next order of business; recognition by the Clerk 
    of the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and the Chairman of the 
    Republican Conference for nominations for Speaker; appointment of 
    tellers for the election of the Speaker; calling of the roll; 
    announcement of the result of the vote; declaration by the Clerk 
    naming the new Speaker of the House; appointment by the Clerk of a 
    committee to escort the Speaker-elect to the chair; Minority Leader 
    presents the Speaker-elect to the membership; address of the 
    Speaker-elect to the House from the chair; request by the Speaker-
    elect of a Member-elect to administer the oath of office to the 
    Speaker; administration of the oath to the Speaker.

    On Jan. 10, 1967,(17) after the establishment of a 
quorum on the opening day of the 90th Congress, the House proceeded as 
follows, with Ralph R. Roberts, of Indiana, presiding as Clerk:

17. 113 Cong. Rec. 12-14, 90th Cong. 1st Sess.

        The Clerk: The next order of business is the election of a 
    Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 90th Congress.
        Nominations are now in order.
        Mr. Rostenkowski:(1) Mr. Clerk, as chairman of the 
    Democratic caucus, I am directed by the unanimous vote of that 
    caucus to present for election to the Office of the Speaker . . . 
    the name of the Honorable John W. McCormack [Mass.]. . . .
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 1. Mr. Daniel D. Rostenkowski (Ill.).
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        Mr. Laird:(2) Mr. Clerk, as chairman of the House 
    Republican conference and by authority, by direction, and by 
    unanimous vote of the Republican conference, I nominate for Speaker 
    . . . the Honorable Gerald R. Ford [Mich.] . . . .
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 2. Mr. Melvin R. Laird (Wisc.).
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        The Clerk: The Honorable John W. McCormack . . . and the 
    Honorable Gerald R. Ford . . . have been placed in nomination.
        . . . There being no further nominations, the Clerk will 
    appoint tellers.
                         
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        The Clerk appoints. . . .
        Tellers will come forward. . . .
        The roll will now be called, and those responding to their name 
    will indicate by surname the nominee of their choice.
        The following is the result of the vote. . . .
        Therefore, the Honorable John W. McCormack, of Massachusetts, 
    is the duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 
    90th Congress, having received a majority of the votes cast.
        The Clerk appoints the following committee to escort the 
    Speaker-elect to the chair. . . .
        The Doorkeeper announced the Speaker-elect of the House of 
    Representatives of the 90th Congress, who was escorted to the chair 
    by the committee of escort. . . .
        [The Minority Leader presents the Speaker-elect to the 
    Membership.]
        Mr. McCormack: My dear 
    friends. . . .
        I am now ready to take the oath of office and will ask the dean 
    of the House of Representatives, the Honorable Emanuel Celler, of 
    New York, to administer the oath.
        Mr. Celler then administered the oath of office to Mr. 
    McCormack. . . .

Sec. 6.2 The Minority Leader of the House addressed the House from the 
    Speaker's rostrum and presented the Speaker-elect.

    On Jan. 10, 1962,(3) Minority Leader Charles Halleck, of 
Indiana, presented to the House, after the election but before the oath 
of office, Speaker-elect John W. McCormack, of Massachusetts.
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 3. 108 Cong. Rec. 6, 87th Cong. 2d Sess.
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Election of Speaker by Resolution

Sec. 6.3 On occasion, the Speaker has been elected by resolution.

    On June 4, 1936,(4) following the death, during the 
session of Congress, of Speaker Joseph W. Byrns, of Tennessee, the 
House elected a Speaker by the following resolution:
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 4. 80 Cong. Rec. 9016, 74th Cong. 2d Sess.

        Resolved, That Hon. William B. Bankhead, a Representative from 
    the State of Alabama, be, and he is hereby elected Speaker of the 
    House of Representatives.
        Resolved, That the President and the Senate be notified by the 
    Clerk of the election of Hon. William B. Bankhead as Speaker of the 
    House of Representatives.

    On Sept. 16, 1940,(5) following the death, during the 
session, of Speaker Bankhead, the House elected a Speaker by the 
following resolution:
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 5. 86 Cong. Rec. 12231, 76th Cong. 3d Sess.
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                              House Resolution 602

        Resolved, That Hon. Sam Rayburn, a Representative from the 
    State of
                         
[[Page 41]]

    Texas, be, and he is hereby, elected Speaker of the House of 
    Representatives.
        Resolved, That the President and the Senate be notified by the 
    Clerk of the election of Hon. Sam Rayburn as Speaker of the House 
    of Representatives.

Administration of Oath to Speaker; Resignation From Committees

Sec. 6.4 The oath of office is administered to the Speaker-elect, at 
    his request, by the dean of the House.

    On Jan. 10, 1962,(6) after Speaker-elect John W. 
McCormack, of Massachusetts, had been escorted to the chair, he was 
administered the oath of office, at his request, by the dean of the 
House, Mr. Carl Vinson, of Georgia.
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 6. 108 Cong. Rec. 6, 87th Cong. 2d Sess.
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Sec. 6.5 If elected after the organization of the House, the Speaker 
    resigns from the committees of the House on which he had served 
    while a Member.

    On Jan. 10, 1962,(7) the first day of the second 
session, newly-elected Speaker John W. McCormack, of Massachusetts, 
resigned, without objection, from the Committees on Government 
Operations and Science and Astronautics, and from the Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt Memorial Commission.
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 7. 108 Cong. Rec. 8, 87th Cong. 2d Sess.
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Election of Speaker During a Session or at Opening of Second Session

Sec. 6.6 Following the death of the Speaker, between sessions of a 
    Congress, the authority of an elected Speaker pro tempore 
    terminates, and the Clerk presides at the reconvening until the 
    election of a new Speaker.

    On Jan. 10, 1962,(8) the Clerk of the House, Ralph R. 
Roberts, of Indiana, called the second session of the 87th Congress to 
order for the purpose of electing a new Speaker. The Honorable John W. 
McCormack, of Massachusetts, elected Speaker pro tempore in the first 
session during the last absence of Speaker Rayburn, was elected Speaker 
of the second session.
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 8. 108 Cong. Rec. 5, 87th Cong. 2d Sess.
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Sec. 6.7 When a Speaker dies during a session of Congress the Clerk 
    calls the House to order, makes announcement
                         
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    thereof, and presides over the election of a new Speaker.

    On June 4, 1936,(9) the Clerk of the House, South 
Trimble, called the House to order during the second session and 
announced the sudden death, during the early morning hours, of the 
Speaker, the Honorable Joseph W. Byrns, of Tennessee. The Clerk then 
presided over the election of a new Speaker.(10)
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 9. 80 Cong. Rec. 9016, 74th Cong. 2d Sess.
10. Before the House proceeded to the election, the roll was not called 
        to establish a quorum, as the House chose to elect the Speaker 
        by resolution. See Sec. 6.3, supra. See also 86 Cong. Rec. 
        12231, 76th Cong. 3d Sess., where the Clerk presided following 
        the death of Speaker Bankhead during the session.
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Sec. 6.8 When a vacancy arises in the Speaker's office during the term 
    of a Congress, the quorum to elect a new Speaker is established by 
    an alphabetical roll call.

    On Jan. 10, 1962,(11) following the death, in office, of 
Speaker Sam Rayburn, of Texas, a quorum to elect a Speaker was 
established by Clerk Ralph R. Roberts, of Indiana, who directed the 
call of the roll alphabetically by Members' names.
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11. 108 Cong. Rec. 5, 87th Cong. 2d Sess.
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