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publications, or in the legitimate discharge of their legislative duties. Members of Congress also constantly act upon the supposition that the privilege includes the right to circulate their speeches, not only among their own constituents, but anywhere throughout the United States.
The internal organization of each house of Congress is limited by certain provisions of the Constitution. The Vice-President of the United States is made the presiding officer of the Senate; 2 neither house can expel a member for a breach of its rules except on a two-thirds vote, a quorum being present; each house must keep a journal of its proceedings and publish the same from time to time, except such parts as it may deem necessary to keep secret; if one-fifth of the members present in either house demand a record of the yeas and nays upon the journal with regard to any question, that record must be taken by roll-call. Subject to these limitations, each house has the right to elect its own officers, compel the attendance of members, and prescribe rules of procedure and discipline.
The power of Congress, in the course of its proceedings, to interfere with private citizens - a power which has, in times past, caused many serious constitutional conflicts in England - is clearly limited by our Constitution: neither house has any general power to punish outsiders for contempt, for such a power is judicial in its nature. Whenever the examination of private citizens, however, is necessary to the performance of regular legislative duties, it would appear that Congress may require the attendance of witnesses, and compel them to give testimony. Each house may also punish its own members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member; but it has been held by the Court that the power of Congress to punish its members or private citizens is confined to the session in which the condemnation occurs, and cannot extend beyond imprisonment during the remainder of that session.
The quorum necessary to do business in each house is fixed
Burgess, Political Science and Constitutional Law, Vol. II, p. 56.
2 He has no vote save in case of a tie.
3 Readings, p. 138.
4 Reinsch, American Legislatures, p. 176.
5 When the House is once organized, the quorum consists of a majority of those members, chosen, sworn, and living, whose membership has not been
by the Constitution at a majority of all the members, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and are authorized to compel the attendance of absent members. This question of the quorum is no formal matter. It is necessary to fix the number at a majority of the members in order to prevent "snap" legislation by minorities, but the rule is often attended with serious inconveniences.
For a long time it was a common practice for the minority party in the House of Representatives, whenever it desired to delay business, to refuse to answer the roll-call, and thus frequently compel an adjournment, on the ground that there was no quorum present, until a quorum could be mustered. To stop this 'filibustering," as these dilatory tactics were called, Speaker Reed, in January, 1890, held that members present in the House and declining to answer should be counted present in determining the question of a quorum. Shortly afterward the House embodied this principle in a rule authorizing the clerk, on demand of a member or at the suggestion of the Speaker, to count as present those physically present but refusing to answer the roll-call. The present method of marshalling a quorum and dealing with delinquent members is illustrated by this brief extract from the Congressional Record:
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I make the point of order that there is no quorum present.
THE SPEAKER: The Sergeant-at-Arms will close the doors and bring in the absentees, the clerk will call the roll, and those in favor of the passage of the bill will, as their names are called, answer ‘aye,' and those opposed will answer 'no,' and those present and not voting will answer 'present.'
ASSISTANT SERGEANT-AT-ARMS PIERCE: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the rules of the House and the warrant of the Speaker, I present at the bar of the House, under arrest, Mr. Buckman and Mr. Rucker.
THE SPEAKER (pro tempore): The gentlemen will be noted as present and discharged from arrest.
Does the gentleman from Minnesota desire to vote?
MR. BUCKMAN: I vote 'aye.' 1
vacated by resignation or by the action of the house. Hinds, Precedents, Vol. IV, p. 62. When a point of order is made with regard to the quorum it must be that no quorum is present, not that no quorum has voted. Ibid., p. 79.
1 Congressional Record, Vol. XL, part 8, p. 7585 (59th Cong., 1st Sess.).
The Constitution requires an annual session of Congress, and provides that it shall begin on the first Monday in December, unless Congress, by law, shall appoint a different day. Each Congress, therefore, has normally two sessions. The first, known as the long session, begins in December of each odd year, 1909, 1911, 1913, etc., and extends theoretically until the following December, though as a matter of practice it is usually adjourned sometime in the spring or summer-in 1890 the long session was not adjourned until the first of the following October. The second session of each Congress begins in December of each even year, 1908, 1910, 1912, etc., and extends until the following March 4. Every Congress, therefore, expires at noon on March 4 of each odd year, thus giving the President at the very opening of his administration a new Congress. By postponing the session until autumn the President has time to prepare for his legislative duties.
It will be noted that, according to this arrangement, a member of the House of Representatives does not take his seat until more than a year after his election; that is, he is elected in November of the even year, and, unless a special session is called, does not begin his legislative work until one year from the December immediately following. Thus it happens that an expiring House sits for about four months after the election of the members of the new House, and an important measure may be passed by a party which the country has voted down at the preceding election. Congress may, accordingly, enact laws opposed to the latest expression of popular will. "Under the present law," said Mr. Shafroth, formerly a member of Congress, "a Representative in Congress who has been turned down by the people legislates for that people in the second regular session. A man who has been defeated for reëlection is not in a fit frame of mind to legislate for the people. There is a sting in defeat that tends to engender the feeling of resentment, which often finds expression in the vote of such members against wholesome legislation. That same feeling often produces such a want of interest in proceedings as to cause the members to be absent nearly all the second session. . . . It is then that some are open to propositions which they would never think of entertaining if they were to go before the people for reëlection. It is then that the attorneyship of some corporation is often tendered, and a vote is after
ward found in the Record in favor of legislation of a general or special character favoring corporations."1
Special sessions of Congress may be called by the President under his power to convene either house or both of them on extraordinary occasions. This has been done a number of times, the most noteworthy occasion being the call of July 4, 1861, to prepare for the Civil War, and the most recent being the convening of Congress by President Taft in March, 1909, for the purpose of revising the tariff. The Senate is often called at the beginning of a new administration to confirm appointments.
No provision is made in the Constitution whereby members of Congress can be instructed by their constituents, and it is held by many American publicists that a representative, though chosen by a district, is in reality a member of a national legislature bound to act on a broadly national policy. In practice, however, this theory is not always observed, for Senators and Representatives are often instructed by the legislatures of their states in solemn resolutions. There is, of course, no penalty for violating these instructions, because the state legislature cannot compel the resignation of a member of Congress. Nevertheless every congressman is extremely sensitive to the wishes of the leaders. of his party in his community.
The difference in the organization of the two houses makes it necessary to say a few words by way of comparison. The Senate is, of course, the smaller body, being composed of ninety-two members, as against 391 members in the House of Representatives. The Senate, generally speaking, is also composed of older men and men of wider political experience. The Senators as a rule have been in some branch of state government or in the House of Representatives. As the term of service is longer and the chances for reëlection greater, the Senate usually contains a relatively larger number of political experts, acquainted not only with the problems of law-making, but also with the inner workings of the federal government. The influence of the Senators is also augmented by their position as party leaders
1 Shafroth, "When Congress Should Convene," North American Review, Vol. CLXIV.
Readings, p. 233.
For the original purpose of the Senate, see Readings, p. 222.
within their respective states. They have, as we have seen, a large power in appointing to federal office; and sometimes they are able to construct political machines of extraordinary strength.' They usually have great weight in selecting delegates to national party conventions, and in fact they are largely responsible for the predominance of the federal office-holding element in those assemblies. This command over party resources within their states enables the Senators to bring more or less pressure on the members of their party in the House of Representatives. When the state organization, in close touch with its Senator or Senators, adopts a policy, it is usually wise for the member of the House of Representatives, if he expects further party favors, to fall in line with the policy.2
This connection between the Senate and political leadership has resulted in bringing into that body a large number of men whose principal claim to the office is the power to manipulate the state political machinery. "The dominating influence of the Senate in this matter was never more clearly shown than in the Republican convention of 1900. Both the temporary and the permanent chairmen were Senators; the four nomination speeches were made by Senators; and there were seven Senators on the most important committee, that on Resolutions, which drafted the national platform. The National Committee appointed by the convention contained five Senators, among them Hanna (as chairman) and Quay. The advisory council appointed by the National Committee had three senatorial members, among them Platt and Depew; while Hanna, Quay, and Scott were members of the Executive Committee. So well organized was the senatorial group at this time, that the selection of the presidential candidate was largely determined by their discretion, both in 1896 and in 1900.
The political power of the Senate is greatly augmented by its control over treaties and appointments.*
The Senate also derives no little influence through the connection of some of its members with those powerful economic interests which have operated largely through the extra-legal polit
1 Readings, p. 128.
2 See Article by H. L. Nelson, "The Overshadowing Senate," Century, Vol. LXV, p. 513.
'See Reinsch, American Legislatures, p. 121. See above, pp. 191, 196.