What Is The Role Of The Speaker Of The House?
What Is The Role Of The Speaker Of The House?
The Speaker of the House, an office currently held by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is the highest-ranking member of the Legislative Branch of government and second in the line of succession to the presidency behind the vice president. Elected by a majority of the members, as directed by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, the role of Speaker has evolved over time.
The modern-day Speaker acts as leader of the majority party, determining the agenda and priorities for the House while fulfilling parliamentary and administrative functions like:
- Presiding over the House and calling it to order
- Appointing officers
- Recognizing Members to speak on the floor
- Referring matters to committees
- Bringing matters up to vote
- Signing all “acts and joint resolutions, writs, warrants, and subpoenas of (or issued to) the House”
- Negotiating with the President as needed
While the Speaker of the House serves as its highest-ranking officer, the Speaker remains a representative of her constituents, doing the work of her district, in addition to her leadership duties. As per current rules, the Speaker can choose whether to vote in legislative matters.
How Does One Become The Speaker Of The House?
The Speaker of the House is elected by a majority of the Members, as directed in Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution. The Speaker must win a majority of the Members present at the vote. Once conducted by ballot, now the Members call out their choice for the selection of the Speaker, a process called “vive voce,” in an election that occurs at the start of each new Congress, or every two years.
Though the Speaker does not have to be a Member, all Speakers to date were Members of the House.
What Makes The Speaker Of The House So Powerful?
In addition to being a vice president away from the presidency, the Speaker determines the agenda and priorities for the House. While any member of the House can introduce legislation, the Speaker determines how that legislation is handled and whether it sees a floor vote. In that way, the tone of the House can change dramatically depending upon the Speaker.
In the modern era, former Republican speaker Newt Gingrich (GA), elected to the position in 1995 and enraged by his Democratic predecessor, Texan Jim Wright, created a tone of antagonistic partisanship, setting the House to work solely on the Republican agenda, and focused his leadership efforts on fundraising and campaigns to keep his party in power. The tradition of fundraising continues, regardless of party; Nancy Pelosi brought in more than $80 million prior to regaining the office of Speaker.
With the power of the Speakership, Pelosi determined whether Donald Trump’s actions warranted an impeachment inquiry; her powers also including bringing the Articles of Impeachment to a full vote of the House. She appointed the seven impeachment managers who would prosecute the case in the Senate: Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Val Demings (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). While the Constitution puts the sole power of impeachment in the hands of the House, the Speaker determines the how and when.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Who Is The Current Speaker Of The House?
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the current Speaker of the House of the 116th Congress, elected by the majority on January 3, 2019. The first–and thus far, only– woman ever to serve as Speaker, Pelosi previously held the title from January 4, 2007, to January 3, 2011, when Republicans gained control.
Pelosi, a fundraising powerhouse and the Speaker who oversaw the passage of the Affordable Care Act, represents California’s 12th district, which includes most of San Francisco. A member of the House since 1987, Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker. She set a progressive agenda for the House, focusing on healthcare, pre-existing condition coverage, drug prices, gun control, climate change, immigration, equality, and elections.
List Of Speakers Of The House
Nancy Pelosi follows a long line of Speakers, many of whom served multiple terms. Since the establishment of the two major political parties:
|Nancy Pelosi||CA||110th, 111th, 116th||2007-2011, 2019-|
|Thomas S. Foley||Washington||101st, 102nd, 103rd||1989–95|
|James C. Wright, Jr.||TX||100th and 101st||1987–89|
|Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.||MA||95th, 96th, 97th, 98th, and 99th||1977–87|
|Carl B. Albert||OK||92nd, 93rd, and 94th||1971–77|
|John W. McCormack||MA||87th, 88th, 89th, 90th, and 91st||1962–71|
|Samuel T. Rayburn||TX||76th, 77th, 78th, 79th, 81st, 82nd, 84th, 85th, 86th, and 87th||1940–47, 1949–53, 1955–61|
|William Brockman Bankhead||AL||74th, 75th, and 76th||1936–40|
|Joseph Wellington Byrns||TN||74th||1935–36|
|Henry T. Rainey||IL||73rd||1933–35|
|John Nance Garner||TX||72nd||1931–33|
|James Beauchamp Clark||MO||62nd, 63rd, 64th, and 65th||1911–19|
|Charles Frederick Crisp||GA||52nd and 53rd||1891–95|
|John Griffin Carlisle||KY||48th, 49th, and 50th||1883–89|
|Samuel Jackson Randall||PA||44th, 45th, and 46th||1876–81|
|Michael Crawford Kerr||IN||44th||1875–76|
|James Lawrence Orr||SC||35th||1857–59|
|Paul Ryan||WI||114th and 115th||2015–19|
|John Boehner||OH||112th, 113th, and 114th||2011–15|
|J. Dennis Hastert||IL||106th, 107th, 108th, and 109th||1999–2007|
|Newt Gingrich||GA||104th and 105th||1995–99|
|Joseph W. Martin, Jr.||MA||80th, 83rd||1947–49, 1953–55|
|Nicholas Longworth||OH||69th, 70th, and 71st||1925–31|
|Frederick Gillett||MA||66th, 67th, and 68th||1919–25|
|Joseph Gurney Cannon||IL||58th, 59th, 60th, and 61st||1903–11|
|David B. Henderson||IA||56th and 57th||1899–1903|
|Thomas Brackett Reed||ME||51st, 54th and 55th||1889–91, 1895–99|
|Joseph Warren Keifer||OH||47th||1881–83|
|James G. Blaine||ME||41st, 42nd, and 43rd||1869–75|
|Schuyler Colfax||IN||38th, 39th, and 40th||1863–69|
|Galusha A. Grow||PA||37th||1861–63|
|Theodore Medad Pomeroy||NY||40th||March 3rd, 1869 – March 4th, 1869|
The Rantt Rundown
The Speaker of the House determines the agenda of the legislative body, appoints officers, recognizes Members to speak and is second in the line of succession, in addition to the office’s more administrative tasks. Currently held by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the modern role includes party leadership as well as negotiations with the president. The Speaker is the most powerful member of the Legislative Branch of government, and is elected at the start of each new Congress by a majority of the Members.