committee


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committee,

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.

Bibliography

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 classic literature ?
The committees will go down to meet him, now, and escort him in.
Brocklehurst, or some of the committee, and ascertain whether they would permit me to mention them as references.
On the contrary, that same assembly which issued the Declaration of Independence, instead of continuing to act in the name and by the authority of the good people of the United States, had, immediately after the appointment of the committee to prepare the Declaration, appointed another committee, of one member from each colony, to prepare and digest the form of confederation to be entered into between the colonies.
The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
Seward's study two hours after dinner, which had been at six o'clock, we unconsciously formed a sort of board or committee.
On Wednesday the three fugitives--they had passed the night in a field of unripe wheat--reached Chelmsford, and there a body of the inhabitants, calling itself the Committee of Public Supply, seized the pony as provisions, and would give nothing in exchange for it but the promise of a share in it the next day.
The honorable, the king's attorney, is informed by a friend of the throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantes, mate of the ship Pharaon, arrived this morning from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by Murat with a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee in Paris.
If you will appoint a committee, gentlemen, to wait on me this morning, I will draw up in writing a set of regulations—’ He stopped, with some indignation, for at that instant a hand was laid familiarly on the shoulder of the High Sheriff of —.
Yates, soon after their being reassembled in the drawing-room, seated themselves in committee at a separate table, with the play open before them, and were just getting deep in the subject when a most welcome interruption was given by the entrance of Mr.
Lethabie Groombride, who had formed a Committee, and was disseminating literature: The Province groaned; the Inspector--now an Inspector of Inspectors--whistled.
An amused and exhausted committee had at last given him his desire.
It might have been a Carlist committee meeting of a particularly fatuous character.

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