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Monday, February 25, 2013

Support Offices in the House of Representatives: Roles and Authorities

Ida A. Brudnick
Specialist on the Congress

Article I of the Constitution, in Sections 2 and 3, authorizes the House of Representatives and Senate to choose their own officers. The number of such congressional support personnel, as well as their specific responsibilities, is left to the discretion of the chambers. Over time, both chambers have authorized a number of offices that assist them, collectively or individually, in their work.

In the House, these offices include the Clerk of the House, Chief Administrative Officer, Sergeant at Arms, Office of the Legislative Counsel, Office of the Parliamentarian, Office of the Law Revision Counsel, Office of Interparliamentary Affairs, House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, Office of the Inspector General, Office of General Counsel, House Chaplain, and the Historian of the House. These offices perform legislative, administrative, financial, and ceremonial functions. They also ensure the protection of Congress and preserve its institutional memory.

The roles of House support offices have been established by House Rules, statute, and custom. They are also shaped by the congressional authorities with policy, oversight, and funding responsibilities for the offices. These include the House Administration Committee, the House Appropriations Committee, the House Office Building Commission, and the Office of the Speaker.

This report is an overview of the different roles performed and the organizational authorities that govern the “daily operations” offices in the House of Representatives. Certain entities that assist both the House and Senate, like the Architect of the Capitol, Office of Congressional Accessibility Services, Office of Compliance, the Office of the Attending Physician, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Congressional Research Service (CRS), are included in this report, although the focus here is on their services to the House.

The report is organized by function, with sections on offices supporting legislative duties; administrative, operational, and financial offices; legal and regulatory offices; ceremonial and historical offices; and security offices. Offices with responsibilities in more than one area are addressed in successive sections. More detailed information on select offices is also available in additional CRS products identified throughout.

Date of Report: February 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: RL33220
Price: $29.95

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