House Rule XVII - Decorum and debate

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Contents

Changes in rule in the 110th Congress

There were no changes in the rule for the 110th Congress.

Rule XVII for the 110th Congress

Decorum

1. (a) A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who desires to speak or deliver a matter to the House shall rise and respectfully address himself to ‘‘Mr. Speaker’’ and, on being recognized, may address the House from any place on the floor. When invited by the Chair, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may speak from the Clerk’s desk.

(b) Remarks in debate (which may include references to the Senate or its Members) shall be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality.

Recognition

2. When two or more Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner rise at once, the Speaker shall name the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who is first to speak. A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not occupy more than one hour in debate on a question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union except as otherwise provided in this rule.

Managing debate

3. (a) The Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who calls up a measure may open and close debate thereon. When general debate extends beyond one day, that Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be entitled to one hour to close without regard to the time used in opening.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not speak more than once to the same question without leave of the House.
(c) A manager of a measure who op-poses an amendment thereto is entitled to close controlled debate thereon.

Call to order

4. (a) If a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, in speaking or otherwise, transgresses the Rules of the House, the Speaker shall, or a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may, call to order the offending Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, who shall immediately sit down unless permitted on motion of another Member, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner to explain. If a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner is called to order, the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner making the call to order shall indicate the words excepted to, which shall be taken down in writing at the Clerk’s desk and read aloud to the House.

(b) The Speaker shall decide the validity of a call to order. The House, if appealed to, shall decide the question without debate. If the decision is in favor of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner called to order, the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be at liberty to proceed, but not otherwise. If the case requires it, an offending Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be liable to censure or such other punishment as the House may consider proper. A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not be held to answer a call to order, and may not be subject to the censure of the House therefor, if further debate or other business has intervened.

Comportment

5. When the Speaker is putting a question or addressing the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not walk out of or across the Hall. When a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner is speaking, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not pass between the person speaking and the Chair. During the session of the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not wear a hat or remain by the Clerk’s desk during the call of the roll or the counting of ballots. A person may not smoke or use a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor of the House. The Sergeant-at-Arms is charged with the strict enforcement of this clause.

Exhibits

6. When the use of an exhibit in debate is objected to by a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, the Chair, in his discretion, may submit the question of its use to the House without debate.

Galleries

7. During a session of the House, it shall not be in order for a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner to introduce to or to bring to the attention of the House an occupant in the galleries of the House. The Speaker may not entertain a request for the suspension of this rule by unanimous consent or otherwise.

Congressional Record

8. (a) The Congressional Record shall be a substantially verbatim account of remarks made during the proceedings of the House, subject only to technical, grammatical, and typographical corrections authorized by the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner making the remarks.

(b) Unparliamentary remarks may be deleted only by permission or order of the House.
(c) This clause establishes a standard of conduct within the meaning of clause 3(a)(2) of rule XI.

Secret sessions

9. When confidential communications are received from the President, or when the Speaker or a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner informs the House that he has communications that he believes ought to be kept secret for the present, the House shall be cleared of all persons except the Members, Delegates, Resident Commissioner, and officers of the House for the reading of such communications, and debates and proceedings thereon, unless otherwise ordered by the House.

Rule XVII for the 109th Congress

Decorum

1. (a) A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who desires to speak or deliver a matter to the House shall rise and respectfully address himself to ``Mr. Speaker and, on being recognized, may address the House from any place on the floor. When invited by the Chair, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may speak from the Clerk's desk.

(b) Remarks in debate (which may include references to the Senate or its Members) shall be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality.

Recognition

2. When two or more Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner rise at once, the Speaker shall name the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who is first to speak. A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not occupy more than one hour in debate on a question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union except as otherwise provided in this rule.

Managing debate

3. (a) The Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner who calls up a measure may open and close debate thereon. When general debate extends beyond one day, that Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be entitled to one hour to close without regard to the time used in opening.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not speak more than once to the same question without leave of the House.
(c) A manager of a measure who opposes an amendment thereto is entitled to close controlled debate thereon.

Call to order

4. (a) If a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, in speaking or otherwise, transgresses the Rules of the House, the Speaker shall, or a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may, call to order the offending Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, who shall immediately sit down unless permitted on motion of another Member, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner to explain. If a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner is called to order, the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner making the call to order shall indicate the words excepted to, which shall be taken down in writing at the Clerk's desk and read aloud to the House.

(b) The Speaker shall decide the validity of a call to order. The House, if appealed to, shall decide the question without debate. If the decision is in favor of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner called to order, the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be at liberty to proceed, but not otherwise. If the case requires it, an offending Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner shall be liable to censure or such other punishment as the House may consider proper. A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not be held to answer a call to order, and may not be subject to the censure of the House therefor, if further debate or other business has intervened.

Comportment

5. When the Speaker is putting a question or addressing the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not walk out of or across the Hall. When a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner is speaking, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not pass between the person speaking and the Chair. During the session of the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not wear a hat or remain by the Clerk's desk during the call of the roll or the counting of ballots. A person may not smoke or use a wireless telephone or personal computer on the floor of the House. The Sergeant-at-Arms is charged with the strict enforcement of this clause.

Exhibits

6. When the use of an exhibit in debate is objected to by a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, the Chair, in his discretion, may submit the question of its use to the House without debate.

Galleries

7. During a session of the House, it shall not be in order for a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner to introduce to or to bring to the attention of the House an occupant in the galleries of the House. The Speaker may not entertain a request for the suspension of this rule by unanimous consent or otherwise.

Congressional record

8. (a) The Congressional Record shall be a substantially verbatim account of remarks made during the proceedings of the House, subject only to technical, grammatical, and typographical corrections authorized by the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner making the remarks.

(b) Unparliamentary remarks may be deleted only by permission or order of the House.
(c) This clause establishes a standard of conduct within the meaning of clause 3(a)(2) of rule XI.

Secret sessions

9. When confidential communications are received from the President, or when the Speaker or a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner informs the House that he has communications that he believes ought to be kept secret for the present, the House shall be cleared of all persons except the Members, Delegates, Resident Commissioner, and officers of the House for the reading of such communications, and debates and proceedings thereon, unless otherwise ordered by the House.

Articles and Resources

References

Note: Updates to the rules for the 110th Congress were obtained by Congresspedia staff from House Rules Committee staff. The full source is available upon request.

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