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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 ?
We are grateful for his five years of service on the Ethics Committee and for agreeing to serve the remainder of the calendar year," she added.
Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, is the lone Texan serving on the House Ethics Committee.
Faeldon does not have the right to file a complaint before the ethics committee until he respects the processes in the blue ribbon committee.
The Appeal Committee is responsible for hearing appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Committee and the Ethics Committee.
The statement was immediately criticised for blurring the separation between Fifa and the ethics committee, which constitutionally should be independent of the organisation as it investigates its officials.
He also expressed disappointment that the Ethics Committee had not informed him personally before releasing the statement about his ban.
Mr Platini would miss the opportunity to present his points of view vis-a-vis the adjudicatory chamber in person," FIFA's ethics committee said in a statement.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was also hit with the same sanction, meaning the three most powerful men in football are now all provisionally suspended while investigations by the ethics committee continue.
Dyke said: "If the ethics committee reaches a conclusion that Mr Platini has not behaved properly or has behaved dishonestly then of course the FA will not support him.
Chaudhry Sarwar has given recommendations for the ethics committee.
Our Ethics Committee is responsible for maintaining and enforcing our corporate Code of Conduct, and I know that the committee will continue to uphold our core value of integrity under Leanne s direction.

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