For more than two centuries, the U.S. House of Representatives has carefully crafted rules and procedures to help it function as the legislative body that the Founders envisioned—“the People’s House.” Some practices are rooted in the U.S. Constitution; others are traditions adopted to meet the changing needs of the nation and the institution. Learn about the House’s role, powers, and development by exploring essays, Congress-by-Congress summaries, and profiles about the House’s unique culture.
Learn about the framers’ vision for the newly created governing body and subsequent major developments through essays exploring the institutional powers and duties of the House of Representatives.
Discover the unique makeup of each individual Congress through summaries and statistical information which provide the backdrop to historical events.
Search historic events, proceedings, and legislation on a particular date in House history. Browse the calendar or use a keyword search to find a specific topic or individual.
Providing a list of significant institutional and legislative milestones important to House practice and procedure, as well as U.S. history itself.
Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution provides each state at least one U.S. Representative, while the size of a state’s delegation to the House depends on its total population. Learn more about the apportionment of the House of Representatives.
The Constitution directs that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient” (Article II, Section 3). Explore the history of the Annual Message.
Learn about the parliamentary difference between a Joint Meeting and a Joint Session of Congress. View a comprehensive historical chart containing these formal gatherings of Congress (including Presidential Inaugurations).
Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event. View a chart of those who have received this prestigious award.
Under the current House Rule IV, the House Chamber may only be used for legislative functions, conference meetings, and caucus meetings unless the House agrees to take part in a ceremony. Earlier in House history, however, the chamber also served as a place to memorialize Representatives who died in office.
Since 1852, when Henry Clay became the first person to receive a funeral ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, the space has been used to pay tribute to the nation's most distinguished citizens. View a list of the most recent tributes.
The Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and Revolutionary War hero, delivered an address to the House of Representatives on December 10, 1824. Since 1824, more than 150 foreign leaders or dignitaries have addressed the House in the form of a Joint Session, Joint Meeting, or House Reception.