House Standing Committee Chairs and Ranking Minority Members: Rules Governing Selection Procedures

House rules, Republican Conference rules, and Democratic Caucus rules each detail aspects of the procedures followed in selecting standing committee chairs and ranking minority members. The Republican Steering Committee and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee are constituted during the early organization meetings traditionally held in November and December to determine most committee chairs and ranking minority members and to make committee assignments for most committees. Their recommendations are then forwarded to the full Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus for approval.

Although structured slightly differently, both the Republican Steering Committee and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee are composed of elected party leaders, regional members, class representatives, and other party officials.

This report will be updated if rules or procedures change.

House Standing Committee Chairs and Ranking Minority Members:
Rules Governing Selection Procedures

August 31, 2017 (RS21165)
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Summary

House rules, Republican Conference rules, and Democratic Caucus rules each detail aspects of the procedures followed in selecting standing committee chairs and ranking minority members. The Republican Steering Committee and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee are constituted during the early organization meetings traditionally held in November and December to determine most committee chairs and ranking minority members and to make committee assignments for most committees. Their recommendations are then forwarded to the full Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus for approval.

Although structured slightly differently, both the Republican Steering Committee and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee are composed of elected party leaders, regional members, class representatives, and other party officials.

This report will be updated if rules or procedures change.


House Standing Committee Chairs and Ranking Minority Members:
Rules Governing Selection Procedures

House Rules

House Rule X, clause 5(c)(2), adopted in 1995 limited committee (and subcommittee) chairs to three terms of consecutive service. Service for less than a full session in a Congress is disregarded. A rules change adopted on January 7, 2003, pursuant to H.Res. 5, exempted the Intelligence Committee chair from the limit. A rules change adopted on January 4, 2005, pursuant to H.Res. 5, exempted the Rules Committee chair from the limit. In 2009, the Democratic majority removed term limits from House rules. The rules adopted on January 3, 2013, reinstituted term limits for all committee chairs, but continued the exemption for the Rules Committee chair.

Republican Conference Procedures

Republican Conference rules delineate procedures for the selection of standing committee chairs and ranking minority members. The Speaker, with the Republicans in the majority, has the authority to nominate the chairs of the House Administration Committee and Rules Committee. In the minority, these appointments are made by the minority leader. The Speaker's or minority leader's nominations for these two positions are submitted directly to the full Republican Conference for ratification. If the conference rejects the leader's nominee, the Speaker or minority leader has the authority to submit another name to the conference.

All other standing committee chairs or ranking minority members are nominated by the Republican Steering Committee and ratified by the full Republican Conference. Pursuant to conference rules, the Member nominated to be chair or ranking minority member does not need to be the Member with the longest continuous service on the committee. In recent Congresses, the Steering Committee "interviewed" prospective candidates for chair or ranking slots. Some of the new chairs and ranking members have been the most senior members of the committee, others were not.

The Steering Committee is composed of party leaders, selected committee leaders, class leaders, and regional representatives. The Steering Committee is reconstituted each Congress. Regions are restructured to reflect as closely as possible an equal number of Republican Members from each region. Each region elects its Steering Committee member. If Steering Committee members are elected from states that have four or more Republican Members, a "small state" group is triggered to also elect a member to the Steering Committee; the small state group is composed of states that have three or fewer Republican Members.

On November, 19, 2015, the House Republican Conference adopted a conference resolution redesigning the composition of the Steering Committee.

The chairs of the Committees on Appropriations, Budget, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Rules, and Ways and Means were removed, except when the Steering Committee is considering members for election to one of those specific committees. If, for example, a member is elected to the Ways and Means Committee, that committee's chair would join the Steering Committee to deliberate and vote on the new member.

Six members are to be elected by the conference as at-large members.

The Speaker has the authority to appoint one at-large designee.

The Speaker, who previously had five votes, will have four votes.

The conference resolution stated that elections for the at-large members would be held not later than 30 calendar days after the resolution was adopted. The six members receiving the greatest number of votes would be elected. The Republican Conference elected the six members on December 10, 2015.

It is anticipated that the number of regions and the regional allocation will be reviewed in the near future.

Table 1 depicts the membership of the reconstituted Republican Steering Committee as of July 1, 2017.

Table 1. Republican Steering Committee

Designated Representative

Member Serving in
115th Congress

Comments

Speaker

Paul D. Ryan

Has 4 votes on Steering Committee

Majority leader

Kevin McCarthy

Has 2 votes

Minority whip

Steve Scalise

 

Chief deputy whip

Patrick McHenry

 

Republican Conference chair

Cathy McMorris Rogers

 

Republican Conference vice-chair

Doug Collins

 

Republican Conference secretary

Jason Smith

 

Republican Policy chair

Luke Messer

 

NRCC chair, former chair

Greg Walden

 

NRCC chair

Steve Stivers

 

Rotating committee chair

 

 

Speaker Designee

Susan Brooks

 

Texas Representative I

Lamar Smith

 

Texas Representative II

John Carter

 

Florida Representative

Vern Buchanan

 

California Representative

Devin Nunes

 

Pennsylvania Representative

Bill Shuster

 

Ohio Representative

Pat Tiberi

 

 

 

 

Region I

Tom Reed

New Jersey, New York, Maine

Region II

Bob Goodlatte

Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia

Region III

Richard Hudson

Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky

Region IV

Tom Graves

Georgia, South Carolina

Region V

Mike Rogers

Alabama, Tennessee

Region VI

John Shimkus

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa

Region VII

Fred Upton

Michigan, Wisconsin

Region VIII

Steve Womack

Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Puerto Rico

Region IX

Kevin Yoder

Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma

Region X

Tom Emmer

Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming

Region XI

David Schweikert

Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, American Samoa

Small State Representative

Kevin Cramer

(Composed of delegations with one or two members): Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wyoming, American Samoa, Puerto Rico

114th Class Representative

Steve Russell

 

115th Class Representative

Francis Rooney

 

Democratic Caucus Procedures

Democratic Caucus rules address selecting committee chairs and ranking minority members. The Democratic leader nominates a chair and ranking member for the Committees on Rules and House Administration, who must be approved by the entire Democratic Caucus. The Budget Committee chair and ranking member are selected from among members choosing to run for the position. Other chair and ranking Member nominations are made by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and voted on by the entire Democratic Caucus. In making selections, the Steering Committee considers, pursuant to caucus rules, "merit, length of service on the committee and degree of commitment to the Democratic agenda of the nominee, and the diversity of the Caucus." The Steering Committee is reconstituted each Congress, and regions can be restructured to reflect equal Democratic representation among regions. The number of appointments made by the party leader can also change. Table 2 depicts the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee as constituted as of July 1, 2017.

Table 2. Democratic Steering Committee

Designated Representative

Member Serving in the
115h Congress

Comments

Steering Committee chair

Nancy Pelosi

 

Steering Committee co-chair

Rosa DeLauro

 

Policy Committee co-chair

Vice Chair/Parliamentarian

Vice Chair

Eric Swalwell

Jared Polis

Barbara Lee

 

Co-Chair, Policy and Communications

Cheri Bustos

David Cicilline

Hakeem Jeffries

 

Democratic whip

Steny Hoyer

 

Assistant Democratic leader

James Clyburn

 

Democratic Caucus chair

Joseph Crowley

 

Democratic Caucus vice-chair

Linda Sanchez

 

DCCC chair

Caucus leadership representative

Freshman leadership representative

Ben Ray Lujan

Tony Cardenas

Colleen Hanabusa

 

Senior Chief Deputy whip

Chief Deputy whip

John Lewis

Joaquin Castro

 

Chief Deputy whip

Krysten Sinema

 

Chief Deputy whip

Diana DeGette

Chief Deputy whip

G.K. Butterfield

 

Chief Deputy whip

Keith Ellison

 

Chief Deputy whip

Jan Schakowsky

 

Chief Deputy whip

Chief Deputy whip

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Terri Sewell

 

Chief Deputy whip

Peter Welch

 

Region I

Judy Chu

Southern California: 21-53

Region II

Doris Matsui

Northern California: 1-20; Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Alaska, Marianas Islands

Region III

Gwen Moore

Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska

Region IV

Andre Carson

Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma

Region V

Dina Titus

Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho

Region VI

Lloyd Doggett

Texas, Arizona, New Mexico

Region VII

Stacey Plaskett

Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Region VIII

Lois Frankel

Georgia, Florida

Region IX

Bill Pascrell

Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, DC, Delaware

Region X

Marcy Kaptur

Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia

Region XI

Gregory Meeks

New York

Region XII

Mike Capuano

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont

Appropriations Committee ranking member

Nita Lowey

 

Budget Committee ranking member

John Yarmouth

 

Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member

Frank Pallone

 

Financial Services Committee ranking member

Maxine Waters

 

Rules Committee ranking member

Louis Slaughter

 

Ways and Means Committee ranking member

Richie Neal

 

Organization Study and Review (OSR) chair

Karen Bass

 

Freshman Representative

Jamie Raskin

 

Members appointed by Democratic leader

Matt Cartwright

Steve Cohen
Katherine Clark
John Delaney

Mike Doyle
John Garamendi
Sheila Jackson Lee
Dan Kildee
Derek Kilmer
Raja Krishnamoorthi
Betty McCollum
Donald Norcross
Darren Soto
Mike Thompson

 

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist on the Congress ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])