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Literally, by virtue of one’s office. The term refers to the practice under Senate rules that allows the chairman and ranking minority member of a committee to participate in any of the subcommittees of that committee, but generally not to vote.
See Senate Rule XXV, paragraph 4b)(3): “(3) Notwithstanding subparagraphs (1) and (2), a Senator serving as chairman or ranking minority member of a standing, select, or special committee of the Senate or joint committee of the Congress may serve ex officio, without vote, as a member of any subcommittee of such committee or joint committee.”
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- “Assignments to Senate Subcommittees,” CRS Report 98-635 (3-page PDF)
- “Subcommittees in the House of Representatives,” CRS Report 98-544 (4-page PDF)
- “Committee Numbers, Sizes, Assignments, and Staff: Selected Historical Data,” CRS Report 96-109 (33-page PDF)
- “House Rules Affecting Committees,” CRS Report 97-357 (35-page PDF)
- “Appropriations Subcommittee Structure: History of Changes from 1920-2017,” CRS Report RL31572 (19-page PDF)
- “Senate Committee Expenditures Resolutions, 110th Congress, and Funding Authorizations, 104th-110th Congresses,” CRS Report RL33905 (23-page PDF)
- “House Committee Chairs: Considerations, Decisions, and Actions as One Congress Ends and a New Congress Begins,” CRS Report RL34679 (34-page PDF)
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