Thursday 24 January 2008

The Clerk of the US House of Representatives

When the House of Representatives finally achieved its first quorum in April 1789, its first action was to elect a Speaker. Its second action was to elect a Clerk. The title is derived from the House of Commons. One significant difference with Westminster is that today each party in the House of Representatives makes its own nomination for Clerk. In 2007 the Democrats put forward the name of Lorraine C. Miller, from Fort Worth, Texas - and she was elected.

Ms Miller is the first African-American to hold the post. She had previously worked for Jim Wright and Tom Foley. Immediately prior to her election as Clerk she served as a senior advisor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During the Clinton Administration, Ms Miller served as a Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. She sings in the Senior Choir of her church, the Shiloh Baptist Church. With her Texas background she remains a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

Rule II lists her duties. She is to
  • prepare the roll of Members-elect.
  • call the Members-elect to order at the commencement of each Congress
  • call the roll of Members-elect, and, pending the election of the Speaker, to preserve order and decorum; and to decide all questions of order.
  • prepare and distribute at the beginning of every session a list of reports required to be made to Congress.
  • note all questions of order, and decisions thereon, and to print these as an appendix to the Journal of each session of the House.
  • prepare and print the House Journal after each session of Congress, and to distribute the Journal to Members and to the executive and the legislature of each State.
  • attest and affix the seal of the House to all writs, warrants, and subpoenas and formal documents issued by the House.
  • certify the passage by the House of all bills and joint resolutions.
  • receive messages from the President and the Senate when the House is not in session.
  • prepare and deliver messages to the Senate and otherwise as requested by the House.
  • retain, in the official library, a permanent set of the books and documents generated by the House.
  • manage the office and supervise the staff of any deceased, resigned, or expelled Member until a successor is elected.

In addition she

  • acts as custodian of all noncurrent records of the House, pursuant to Rule VII.
  • is responsible, under the supervision and direction of the U.S. House of Representatives Fine Arts Board, for the administration, maintenance, and display of the works of fine art and other similar property of the Congress for display or for other use in the House wing of the Capitol, the House Office Buildings, or any other location under the control of the House (P.L. 100-696).