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of party policy. All other systems of arranging committees must necessarily have the same limitations as to minor questions.
To a thoughtful man the query naturally arises: "If the present system is so excellent, why are the speaker and the rules criticised so constantly?"
The answer is simple. Having a considerable degree of power as to directing the House in the main lines of his party's policy, the country and many members of the house assume that he may be equally potent as to every minor and local question. Possibly he might for a short time and for a limited number of questions. But as he is the leader of his party in the House, his every act commits or compromises that party. Hence it is wiser to leave the minor and local questions to be passed on, first by the committees to which they are referred under the rules and then, if the committees endorse them, by the House itself. The House may pass any bill which a committee has reported; and the rules give the speaker no power to prevent.
But the minor and the local matters are usually of great. importance to the political prospects of a few members, and of so little interest to the whole House that it is often beyond the power of their friends to muster the votes to get action on them. Hence the speaker is importuned constantly to assist the member to get unanimous consent to set the rules aside and force consideration by a short cut. The speaker, being responsible for the great lines of policy, especially for the sumtotal of expenditures, must be very cautious about entering into these arrangements. And when he refuses, the member, if he be human, makes haste to write his constituents that he could pass the bill if the speaker would give the opportunity. The bill usually involves the expenditure of national money in a way very desirable to the member's constituents; and they unite with him in denouncing the speaker and the rules. Sometimes the work affects several districts, or even several States, thus giving greater body and momentum to the criti
At the first of the present session certain changes were made in the rules, one of which permits bills to be placed on a calendar for unanimous consent. This calendar is to be called twice a month and will enable members to get their bills before the House without supervision of the speaker. The effect of the arrangement will be to relieve the speaker of an irksome and dangerous responsibility and distribute it among the members. It may diminish the speaker's power in the House somewhat; and it will certainly relieve him of a source of unpopularity in the country.
Several other changes were made at the same time, including the establishment of a Calendar Wednesday, when the House will be forced to consider certain business which it has hitherto been neglectful of, preferring to go on with the great, essential bills and then adjourn. Some of the new business will consist of general and public measures which have perhaps been unduly neglected; but much of it will be of local and personal concern, bringing charges on the treasury for advantage of localities. Another charge makes it easier for the minority party in the House to obtain record votes on propositions of legislation which it may desire to put forward.
The effect of the recent changes as a whole is to take away from the speaker certain functions and vest them in the members, and to restrict somewhat the House's power to go at any time to any matter of business on its calendars. Members who desire to get action on bills of interest to their constituents rather than of general interest will be relieved. The House will also be forced to act on some bills of national interest which it would prefer to let go to a more convenient
30. THE RULES OF THE HOUSE.
Mr. John Dalzell, a member of the committee on rules, gives the following account of the methods by which the House proceeds in the enactment of legislation: .
The rules of the National House of Representatives are not the conception of any one man or set of men; they are not
the product of any one Congress or of any combination of Congresses; they are an evolution, the outgrowth of the parliamentary experience, necessities and exigencies of all the hundred years and more of our Congressional life. The book of rules contains no rule that had not a reasonable necessity for its adoption in the first instance and has not a like necessity for its continuance now. As a whole the rules are so made as to render possible the most expeditious accomplishment in the wisest way of the legislative business of our ninety millions of American people. There have been two revisions of the rules within the last thirty years.
In the Forty-sixth Congress (1880) the rules were revised under the direction of the Committee on Rules, consisting of Speaker Randall and Messrs. Stephens, Blackburn, Garfield and Frye. The changes then made consisted mainly in dropping a number of rules that by reason of changed conditions had become obsolete, in consolidating a number of others and changing their arrangement, and in the introduction of a very few new rules.
The rules then adopted remained in force until the Fiftyfirst Congress (1890), when they were revised by the Committee on Rules, consisting of Speaker Thomas B. Reed, Messrs. McKinley, Cannon, Carlisle and Randall. By this revision, out of the total number of forty-seven rules, twentynine were allowed to remain unchanged, and in the remaining eighteen such changes as were made were only formal, except in four fundamental particulars. These related to (1) dilatory motions, (2) the counting of a quorum, (3) the number which should constitute a quorum in Committee of the Whole, and (4) the order of business. This last revision was found necessary in order to carry out the announced objects sought to be attained by the revision of 1880, viz.: "Economy of time, order and the right of a majority to control and dispose of the business for which it is held responsible.”
Prior to this last revision, under then existing rules, the practice known as filibustering had grown to such an extent as to waste much valuable time and to threaten the power of
the majority to deal with the business of the country. By the use of the privileged motions "to adjourn to a day certain," and "to take a recess," and the practice on the part of members of remaining silent and refusing to vote, thus breaking a quorum, it was in the power of the minority at any time effectually to obstruct the passage of any legislation. A motion to adjourn to a day certain was subject to two amendments, on each of which as well as on the original motion the yeas and nays could be ordered. The same was true as to the motion to take a recess; these motions could be repeated without limit and thus days could be consumed in useless calls of the roll. In point of fact, in the Fiftieth Congress on one occasion the House remained in continuous session eight days and nights, during which time there were over one hundred roll calls on the iterated and reiterated motions to adjourn and to take a recess and their amendments. On this occasion the reading clerks became so exhausted that they could no longer act, and certain members possessed of large voices and strenuous lungs took their places. If this was not child's play it would be difficult to define it. Then again, when a measure to which the minority objected was likely to pass, the yeas and nays would be ordered. The objecting minority members, sitting in their seats, would fail to respond when their names were called, and when the count was made it would appear that there was no quorum present to do business and thus the measure would fail. It seems now strange to realize that many eminent men acting as Speakers of the House maintained that for this manifest evil no remedy existed. It remained for the Speaker of the Fifty-first Congress, Thomas B. Reed, the greatest parliamentary leader in the history of the English-speaking people, to make an end of this manifest absurdity. He declared that physical presence and constructive absence was impossible; that the quorum called for by the Constitution was a present and not a voting quorum; and so, on a certain historic occasion, he added to the names of those voting the names of those present and not voting and announced the result accordingly. He has no
greater glory than that the principles he announced and put into practice have not only been endorsed by the Supreme Court of the United States, but also by his partisan foes when they came into power in the House, and by the practical results which recent years of wise legislation unobstructed by foolish tactics have put on the statute book. Under present rules the motion to adjourn to a day certain and the motion to take a recess are not privileged, and furthermore the Speaker is not allowed to entertain any dilatory motion. If a quorum has been ascertained by actual count to be present, a measure voted on passes or fails 'in accordance with the recorded vote, whether all members have voted or not.
In the Committee of the Whole 100 now constitutes a quorum instead of a majority of the whole House. This is in the interest of the expedition of business.
Bills are not introduced by filing and not by presentation in the open House, and thus much time is saved. Business once entered upon is continued until completed, instead of as under prior rules being limited to a certain time for its consideration and then not having been concluded being sent to the graveyard of the calendar of unfinished business.
In the last Congress (59th) there were 386 members (in this Congress there are 391), and there were introduced a total of bills and resolutions numbering 27,114. It goes withlout saying that not all of these bills could be considered nor could all of these members have a hearing. Theoretically every member of the House is the equal of every other member; every constituency is entitled to equal recognition with every other constituency, but practically there cannot be 391 Speakers; there cannot be 391 chairmen of Committees, nor equal recognition for debate given to 391 members. The real purpose, then, to be accomplished by the rules is the selection from the mass of bills introduced those proper to be considered. There is no limitation on the right of a member to introduce bills; as many as he likes and of whatever character he pleases. Every bill introduced goes to an appropriate committee for consideration, and whether or not it gets