Subcommittee (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms



Fred Rogers testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications


Subunit of a committee established for the purpose of dividing the committee’s workload. Recommendations of a subcommittee must be approved by the full committee before being reported to the chamber.

Most committees form subcommittees to share specific tasks with the full committees. Subcommittees are responsible to—and work within the guidelines established by—their parent committees. House rules impose a limit of five subcommittees for most committees. Senate committees are not limited by Senate rule in the number of subcommittees they may create. The House Appropriations Committee has twelve subcommittees, and the Senate Appropriations Committee has twelve subcommittees.

Some subcommittees have independent, autonomous staff; others do not, using instead full committee staff as needed. Some subcommittees have the authority to mark up legislation; others do not. Some subcommittees conduct only hearings.

House and Senate rules also allow a full committee chair and ranking minority member to serve ex officio as a member of any of a committee’s subcommittees. The committee chair can largely determine what role a committee’s subcommittees play in the development of legislation.

Also see Committee Jurisdiction; § 4.70 Committee and Subcommittee Staff, § 5.80 Committees and Subcommittees, § 5.90 Committee Leadership, § 5.100 House Committee and Subcommittee Assignment Process, § 5.110 Senate Committee and Subcommittee Assignment Process, § 6.40 Committee Hearings, § 7.82 Appropriations Subcommittee Organization, in Congressional Deskbook.






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