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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 ?
The ethics committee members suggested that the staff had to work on its own feelings about the patient.
The OSCPA ethics committee may ask the AICPA professional ethics division to consider or investigate a case for any reason.
The Ethics Committee said his case "related to the suspicion of misuse of expenses and other infringements of FIFA's rules and regulations".
President Blatter was disappointed that the Ethics Committee did not follow the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code, both of which provide for an opportunity to be heard," the statement said.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is a quasi-independent panel that investigates allegations of improper conduct and refers matters to the ethics Committee.
PTI after facing defeat in containment board polls, Imran Khan ordered for formation of ethics committee in the party.
Parsons Ethics Committee is made up of three members who are selected by the CEO.
When leaving the VSS headquarters she only said her explanations will be published by the Ethics Committee.
Fresolo until the findings of the House Ethics Committee are made public to ensure fair use of taxpayer money," state GOP Chairman Kristen Hughes said in a statement Tuesday.
FIFA can bring fresh proceedings against Bin Hammam if the revamped ethics committee has any new evidence.
The University of Michigan adult ethics service initiated a web-based consultation system to facilitate rapid dissemination of cases to members of the ethics committee.
Rest assured, though, that justice will eventually prevail whether through the Fifa Ethics Committee, the Court of Arbitration of Sport or if necessary, through other courts or legal proceedings in courts where we will be equal and no special privileges will be granted to either party.

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