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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).

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BEIRUT: Following several prisoners' riots and pressure from their families, a Lebanese parliamentary committee agreed Monday to reduce the jail term from 12 to nine months.
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The chairman of the Committee Abdul Dhiab stated that the Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education met today with the head of the British Cultural Council and discussed a number of issues that contribute in developing higher education in Iraq by benefiting from the experiences and plans of British universities.
The committee, which emerged from joint parliamentary committees, focused on amending the law about the type of fuels used for vehicles.
He said in his petition that the powers of judicial commission have been restricted through 18th amendment and parliamentary committee has been made more powerful in connection with appointment of judges.
Draft law on state budget of Kyrgyzstan for 2014 and forecast for 2015-2016 provides over 115 million som to the State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources, according to a report conducted by the parliamentary committee on fuel and energy complex and subsoil use.
LAHORE -- A meeting of the parliamentary committee of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Punjab, on Friday came to an end without evolving consensus on the nominations of Chief Minister (CM), Speaker, Deputy Speaker for Punjab Assembly.
Head of the Public Works and Energy parliamentary committee MP Mohammad Qabbani, meanwhile, said that the purpose of the meeting was to assess the Copenhagen summit.

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