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96th Congress (1979–1981)

Congressional Profile

Total Membership:

  • 435 Representatives
  • 3 Delegates
  • 1 Resident Commissioner

Party Divisions:*

  • 278 Democrats
  • 157 Republicans

*Party division totals are based on election day results.

  • Election Statistics, 1978 [PDF]
Thomas Philip (Tip) O'Neill, Jr./tiles/non-collection/s/speaker_oneill_2005_016_047.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Serving 17 Congresses, Thomas "Tip" O'Neill of Massachusetts spent  eight in a leadership position.

Congress Overview

Democratic majorities in Congress eroded after the 1978 elections. The 96th Congress (1979–1981) continued to struggle with energy legislation amid rising support for deficit reduction. The year-long Iranian revolution and subsequent hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran often overshadowed the serious economic problems. Immediately before their mass suicide at a South American commune, followers of cult leader Jim Jones murdered California Representative Leo J. Ryan during his investigation of the compound in Guyana.

Member Information

  • Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, (1774–2005), Official Annotated Membership Roster by State with Vacancy and Special Election Information for the 96th Congress [PDF]
  • Learn more about the House of Representatives with an interactive map

Learn more about the People of the People's House

Leadership & Officers

Speaker of the House:
Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. (D–Massachusetts)
Majority Leader:
James C. Wright, Jr. (D–Texas)
Minority Leader:
John J. Rhodes (R–Arizona)
Democratic Whip:
John W. Brademas (D–Indiana)
Republican Whip:
Robert H. Michel (R–Illinois)
Democratic Caucus Chairman:
Thomas S. Foley (D–Washington)
Republican Conference Chairman:
John B. Anderson (R–Illinois)
Samuel L. Devine (R–Ohio)
Clerk of the House:
Edmund L. Henshaw
Sergeant at Arms:
Benjamin J. Guthrie 1
Kenneth R. Harding 2
Chaplain of the House:
James D. Ford – Lutheran
James T. Molloy
Robert V. Rota
William Holmes Brown

To view complete lists of individuals who have served in these leadership and official positions since the 1st Congress, visit the People section

Legislative Activities

House Calendar
House Calendar [PDF]
Legislation of the 96th Congress (
Bill Summary & Status for the 96th Congress
Résumés of Congressional Activity:
Résumés of Congressional Activity for the 96th Congress


1Appointed February 28, 1980

2Served until February 1980