Chairman / Chair / Chairwoman
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.
- Senate Rule XXIV. Appointment of Committees
- House Rule X. Organization of Committees
- List of United States House of Representatives committees, with chairmen – Wikipedia
- List of United States Senate committees, with chairmen – Wikipedia
- “House Committee Chairs: Considerations, Decisions, and Actions as One Congress Ends and a New Congress Begins,” CRS Report RL34679 (34-page PDF)
- “House Standing Committee Chairs and Ranking Minority Members: Rules Governing Selection Procedures,” CRS Report RS21165 (10-page PDF)
- “Committee Numbers, Sizes, Assignments, and Staff: Selected Historical Data,” CRS Report 96-109 (33-page PDF)
- “Congress’ Early Organization Meetings,” CRS Report RS21339 (6-page PDF)
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