Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives

Last updated on 03-06-2018

Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives

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The Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives collection contains four series of volumes of precedent:

The Office of the Parliamentarian is publishing a set of updated precedents, Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives. This new set will document, explain, and discuss House precedents occurring since the last publication.

The early parliamentary precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives were published by Asher Hinds (Hinds’ Precedents) in 1907 and by Clarence Cannon (Cannon’s Precedents) in 1936. These eight volumes compile precedents from 1789 until 1936. The Deschler, Deschler-Brown, Deschler-Brown-Johnson and Deschler-Brown-Johnson-Sullivan Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives comprise 41 chapters and document the parliamentary precedents and procedural practices of the House from 1936 until 2013; and Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives will follow the topical outline of the Deschler set of precedents. Each chapter will reflect coverage from the date of publication of the proceeding, corresponding to the Deschler’s Precedents chapter to the opening day proceedings of the 115th Congress.

Each chapter contains a brief procedural summary and numerous precedents in the following format: a headnote stating a principle of parliamentary procedure, accompanied by a relevant transcript of the Congressional Record proceedings. The chapters will offer explanatory footnotes and prefatory material to the various headnotes, offering insights and cross-references to materials across the various sets of precedents. Citation authorities will be provided in the front matter of volumes.


Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives (2017 series)

The first volume of Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives was published in 2018 and comprised of four chapters: Assembly of Congress (Chapter 1); Oaths (Chapter 2); Party Organization (Chapter 3); and House Facilities and Capitol Grounds (Chapter 4). The volume was published in print and is online on govinfo. The Office of the Compilation of Precedents, Office of the Parliamentarian, will be publishing subsequent volumes for this set on a regular basis.


Deschler's Precedents (1936-2013)

Lewis Deschler, parliamentarian of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1928 to 1974, was authorized by Public Law 89-90 "to compile and prepare for printing the parliamentary precedents of the House of Representatives, together with such other materials as may be useful in connection therewith, and an index digest of such precedents and other materials." These materials were prepared and published as House Document 94-661 in accordance with Public Law 94-551.

As stated in the preface to Deschler’s Precedents, "[t]hese volumes set forth and analyze the modern precedents of the House of Representatives.... It is the function of these volumes to review the precedents from 1936 through the first session of the 93d Congress, except as otherwise noted." The compilation has since been expanded to include precedents developed beyond the 94th Congress. By law, the precedents must be updated every two years.

Since 1976, Deschler’s Precedents has been prepared under the supervision of Wm. Holmes Brown, Parliamentarian from 1974 to 1994, as is reflected in the name of volumes 10 through 16 (Deschler-Brown Precedents).

Deschler’s Precedents currently consists of 33 chapters, which, the preface explains, "have been arranged in the approximate sequential order in which the subjects covered occur or arise in the House." Each chapter is subdivided into sections, which will constitute the document level on FDsys. A section may be as short as a single page, or it may exceed 200 pages. In addition, the first chapter is preceded by introductory materials, such as the authorizing legislation for the compilation, the preface, acknowledgements, tributes, and a table of abbreviations and terms; these materials are also divided into sections and presented as individual documents. All documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

Volume-to-chapter correspondence of the volumes of Deschler's Precedents.

Volume

Chapter(s)

1

1-6

2

7-9

3

10-14

4

15-17

5

18-20

6

21

7

22-25

8

26

9

27

10

28: Sections 1-24

11

28: Sections 25-end, plus index

12

29: Sections 1-34

13

29: Sections 35-end, plus index

14

30

15

31

16

32-33

17

34-40

18

41


Cannon's Precedents (1907-1936)

Clarence Cannon, Clerk at the Speaker's Table of the U.S. House of Representatives, compiled the precedents of the House of Representatives, dating from 1908-1936 (60th-74th Congresses). These documents are the second half of an eleven-volume series containing selected rulings made by the Chair between 1789 and 1936, with the first have being Hinds' Precedents. Cannon's Precedents was published in 1936.

The precedents are numbered sequentially throughout the volumes. Each precedent appears with a headnote in bold type indicating the principle established by the precedent. The procedural exchange(s) establishing the precedent is then summarized, with the full text and citations to the Congressional Record often provided. Information about specific procedural topics can be located using the indexes (volumes 9-11), which present the headnotes of relevant precedents according to procedural topics or the detailed table of contents in each volume.

Cannon's Precedents currently consists of 130 chapters and six volumes (6-11). Three of those volumes are indexes (9-11). The following table presents the volume-to-chapter correspondence of the six volumes of Cannon's Precedents. All documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

Volume-to-chapter correspondence of the six volumes of Cannon's Precedents.

Volume

Chapter(s)

1

149-210

2

211-233

3

234-279

4

Index - Digest A through D

5

Index - Digest E through N

6

Index - Digest O through Z


Hinds' Precedents (1789-1907)

Asher C. Hinds, Clerk at the Speaker’s Table of the U.S. House of Representatives, compiled the early precedents of the House of Representatives, dating from the First Congress. These materials were prepared and published by authority of the Act of Congress, approved March 4, 1907.

Hinds' Precedents is a 5-volume series containing selected rulings made by the chair. The publication provides valuable coverage of the historical origins and evolution of House procedures dating back to 1789.

The precedents are numbered sequentially throughout the volumes. Each precedent appears with a headnote in bold type indicating the principle established by the precedent. The procedural exchange(s) establishing the precedent is then summarized, with the full text and citations to the Congressional Record often provided. Hinds' Precedents also furnishes citations to the House Journal and predecessors of the Record.

Hinds’ Precedents consists of eight volumes and 148 chapters. The first chapter is preceded by an introduction to Hinds' Precedents, as well as, a table of contents. All documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

Volume-to-chapter correspondence of the four volumes of Hinds' Precedents.

Volume

Chapter(s)

1

1-27

2

28-52

3

53-82

4

83-110

5

11-148