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Published:January 4th, 2007 12:22 EST
California's Pelosi will preside over lower chamber in historic development

California's Pelosi will preside over lower chamber in historic development

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The 110th Congress convened January 4 with a majority of its members affiliated with the Democratic Party. That change in party control brings with it a change in the leadership of the House and its committees and will influence U.S. foreign policy over the next two years.

The House of Representatives is the larger house of Congress, composed of 435 members, apportioned on the basis of population within each of the 50 states, with each state guaranteed at least one representative, regardless of population. The most populous state, California, has the largest delegation, 53 members.  House members -- referred to as representatives, congressmen or simply members -- serve two-year terms.

Although the Constitution assigns the Senate a larger role in international affairs than the House, the House's constitutional role in initiating all federal revenue legislation also gives House committees dealing with international affairs importance.

As a result of the November 2006 national elections, members of the Democratic Party hold a majority of House seats for the first time since 1995, enabling Democrats to chair committees and set the broad House agenda.

The House apportions its workload among 21 committees and four joint committees, which are further subdivided into numerous subcommittees.  The chairman of each committee and a majority of its members represent the majority party.  The chairman controls a committee’s agenda and presides over committee hearings.  Several thousand bills and resolutions are referred to committees during each two-year Congress.

Within each committee, the minority party is led by a ranking member who serves as spokesman for his party’s position on issues before the committee.  Committees select a small percentage of proposed legislation for consideration, and those not addressed usually receive no further action.  The bills that committees report help to set the House's agenda.


Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi of California, Democrat
Acts as leader of the House and combines several roles: presiding officer and administrative head of the House, the partisan role of leader of the majority party in the House, and the representative role of an elected member of the House. By statute, the speaker is second in line, behind the vice president, to succeed to the presidency. Pelosi is the first female speaker in U.S. history; in the 109th Congress, she was the first female minority leader in the House.

Majority leader
Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Democrat
Represents House members of his party on the floor of the chamber, advocates their policies and viewpoints, coordinates their legislative efforts, and helps determine (with the speaker) the schedule of legislative business

Majority whip
Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Democrat
Assists the majority leader

Minority leader
John Boehner of Ohio, Republican
Serves as spokesman for his party’s position on issues and coordinates party votes

Minority whip
Roy Blunt of Missouri, Republican
Assists the minority leader


Armed Services
Oversees the U.S. armed forces and the Department of Defense; hears testimony from senior civilian and military Defense Department officials on various aspects of military and defense policy, including terrorism and unconventional threats and capabilities
Chairman:  Ike Skelton of Missouri
Ranking Republican:  Duncan Hunter of California

Homeland Security
Oversees the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which works with foreign government counterparts and international organizations dealing with security matters; conducts hearings and craft legislation on issues specific to homeland security; conducts investigations and subpoenas witnesses to testify before the panel
Chairman: Bennie Thompson of Mississippi
Ranking Republican: Peter King of New York

International Relations
Oversees the international diplomatic and political relations of the U.S. government; meets with foreign political leaders, U.S. administration officials and representatives of key constituencies; addresses issues related to international security, the United Nations and peacekeeping
Chairman: Tom Lantos of California
Ranking Republican: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida

Oversees the 16 U.S. agencies (plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) that collect, analyze and disseminate intelligence information; and appropriates and authorizes the classified budgets of the intelligence agencies
Chairman: Silvestre Reyes of Texas
Ranking Republican: Peter Hoekstra of Michigan

Oversees international affairs through its purview over subversive activities affecting U.S. internal security; also provides oversight on matters related to espionage, criminal law enforcement, immigration policy, and claims against the United States.
Chairman: John Conyers Jr. of Michigan
Republican: Lamar Smith of Texas

Formulates the U.S. government budget, usually by means of 13 separate pieces of legislation (appropriation bills)
Chairman: David Obey of Wisconsin
Ranking Republican: Jerry Lewis of California

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

By David Anthony Denny
USINFO Staff Writer