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one or more persons appointed or elected to consider, report on, or take action on a particular matter. Because of the advantages of a division of labor, legislative committees of various kinds have assumed much of the work of legislatures in many nations. Standing committees are appointed in both houses of the U.S. Congress at the beginning of every session to deal with bills in the different specific classes. Important congressional committees include ways and means; appropriations; commerce; armed services; foreign relations; and judiciary. The number, but not the scope, of the committees was much reduced in 1946. Since then there has been a large increase in the number of subcommittees, which have become steadily more important.

Members of committees are in effect elected by caucuses of the two major parties in Congress; the majority party is given the chairmanship and majority on each committee, and chairmanships, as well as membership on important committees, are influenced by seniority, but seniority is no longer the sole deciding factor and others may override it. The presiding officer of either house may appoint special committees, including those of investigation, which have the power to summon witnesses and compel the submission of evidence. The presiding officers also appoint committees of conference to obtain agreement between the two houses on the content of bills of the same general character. The U.S. legislative committee system conducts most congressional business through its powers of scrutiny and investigation of government departments.

In France the constitution of the Fifth Republic permits each legislative chamber to have no more than six standing committees. Because these committees are large, unofficial committees have formed that do much of the real work of examining bills. As in the U.S. government, these committees are quite powerful because of their ability to delay legislation. In Great Britain devices such as committees of the whole are used in the consideration of money bills and there are large standing committees of the House of Commons, but committees have not been very important in the British legislature. Recently attempts have been made to form specialized committees.


See L. A. Froman, The Congressional Process (1967); G. Goodwin, Jr., The Little Legislatures (1970); Congressional Quarterly, Guide to Congress (3d ed. 1982).

References in periodicals archive ?
Although the legislation died fairly quickly in all three states, and with much opposition from various interested parties including cities, government coalitions, industry trade groups, defense lawyers and private citizens, the IREM Legislative and Public Policy Committee felt compelled to adopt a new SOP addressing the issue.
The Monetary Policy Committee had decided within its four previous meetings, which were held in February, April, June, and July, to fix the basic CBE interest rate at 8.
As per the proposals, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is to decide interest rates rather than the central bank head.
He then created the Nuclear Control Institute, and subsequently joined the board of the Iran Policy Committee, which Raymond Tanter heads, at its debut conference on 23 February 2005.
Martin and Don have made a tremendous contribution to the work of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) during their current terms.
Bank governor Mark Carney said they were "the most significant set of changes to how we present and explain our interest rate decisions since the Monetary Policy Committee was formed in 1997".
Tehran, (SANA) 25 delegations will take part in the upcoming pro-Syria meeting of heads of parliamentary national security and foreign policy committees of friendly countries.
In addition to Sir Mervyn's speech at the Wales Millennium Centre, members of the Monetary Policy Committee will be meeting with business organisations across Wales, including partners of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce such as West Wales Exporters and the Welsh Automotive Forum.
City officials who no longer wish to serve on their current policy committee, wish to serve on a different policy committee or have been appointed to a 2012 Policy and Advocacy Steering Committee are asked to notify NLC at FullPolicyApplication@nlc.
Members of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which sets interest rates, will be present, along with Sir Mervyn.
Summary: All 13 economists in a Reuters poll this week forecast that the bank's Monetary Policy Committee would keep rates steady.

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