Chairman / Chair / Chairwoman (CongressionalGlossary.com)

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms

Chairman / Chair / Chairwoman

Chairs and tables, by Konstantinos Dafalias

Chairs and tables, by Konstantinos Dafalias

The presiding officer of a committee or subcommittee.

In the Senate, chairmanship is based on seniority of committee tenure, but a senator may not chair more than one standing committee. Traditionally, the majority party member with the greatest seniority on a particular committee serves as its chairman. When the Republican party gained the majority in 1995, it altered its conference rules to allow Republicans on individual committees to vote by secret ballot for their committee’s chairman, irrespective of that senator’s seniority. This adjustment was a logical consequence of the party’s larger decision to place a six-year term limit on the service of its chairmen or, when in the minority, its ranking members.

Also see Congressional Leadership and Committees.

 

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