Clerk of the House: Legislative and Administrative Duties
Clerk of the House: Legislative and
Lorraine H. Tong
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
The Clerk is the chief legislative official of the House of Representatives. Elected
by the House membership at the beginning of each Congress, the legislative duties of the
Clerk were defined during the First Congress.
Over time, other responsibilities have been added by law, House rules, policies
determined by the House Appropriations and Administration Committees, and by custom.
House Rule II establishes the duties of the Clerk. For more information on congressional
processes, see [http://www.crs.gov/products/guides/guidehome.shtml].
Duties and Responsibilities. At the commencement of each new Congress, the
Clerk presides over the House pending election of a Speaker, calls the roll, certifies newly
elected Members, preserves order and decorum, and decides all questions of order subject
to appeal by a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner. The Clerk is responsible
for maintaining a Journal, and after each session of Congress, distributing it to Members,
Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner; certifying the passage of all House bills and
joint resolutions; and receiving messages from the President and the Senate. The Clerk
also attests and affixes the House seal to all formal documents issued by the House,
including writs, warrants, and subpoenas. The Clerk is the official custodian of a
permanent set of House documents, including historical records of the House. In addition,
the clerk administers the House page program and serves on the House Page Board.
The Clerk is charged with the management of vacant congressional offices due to
resignations or death. When Members retire or leave Congress, the Clerk’s staff provides
comprehensive consultations on disposing of and archiving official papers and office files.
House Rule VII charges the clerk with the preservation and availability of noncurrent
records of House committees and records of House officers.
The following staff support the clerk in carrying out the Clerk’s legislative duties:
!The journal clerk compiles the House’s daily minutes (the official record
of the House, published in the Journal).
!The tally clerk operates the electronic voting system, oversees the
recording of floor votes, receives committee reports, and prepares the
Calendars of the United States House of Representatives and History of
!The reading clerks read aloud House bills, amendments, and other
documents submitted to the House.
!The bill clerk receives and processes bills and resolutions, lists of
cosponsors, amendments and other communications to the House.
!The enrolling clerk prepares the official copy of all House — passed
measures for the Senate, and the official copy of House originated and
adopted measures for transmittal to the White House.
!The Daily Digest clerk prepares information for the Daily Digest of the
Congressional Record. The official reporters transcribe House floor
proceedings and House committee hearings; clerks to the reporters track
floor activity and receive text for the Congressional Record.
In the 105th Congress, the clerk reorganized the Office of the Clerk and created the
Legislative Resource Center (LRC) by consolidating the staff and activities of the
historian, library, document room, office of records and registration, and the LEGIS
office. Under House rules and public law, the Clerk also makes available public
disclosure information such as federal election and campaign reports, financial disclosure
statements, foreign travel expenditures and gift disclosure reports, franking information,
and lobby registrations. This data, as well as the official legislative documents of the
House, compiled by the Clerk, is accessible for public examination at the LRC.
Electronic Dissemination of House Information and Documents. At the
direction of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, the Clerk
works closely with the secretary of the Senate and other legislative branch entities to
develop and establish electronic information standards for efficient transmittal of
information on legislation, voting records, and other data. The Clerk, with the approval
of the Speaker and the Committee on House Administration, has formulated and
implemented procedures for processing and posting information on House votes for
integration into the Library of Congress’s THOMAS computer system and the Legislative
Information System (LIS). In June 1997, to facilitate the dissemination of House
documents to both Congress and the general public, the Clerk established a website
[http://clerk.house.gov], making available in electronic format documents compiled and
printed by the Office of the Clerk.
Organization. The Office of the Clerk comprises the Clerk’s main office and the
following nine offices:
!Capitol Service Groups
!History and Preservation
!House Employment Counsel
!House Page Program
!Legislative Computer Systems
!Legislative Resource Center