The powers and duties of the House are described in the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected by the House; although historically every Speaker has been a Member of the House, this is not a constitutional requirement (Art. I, s. 2. merely specifies that the House "shall chuse ["sic"] their Speaker and other Officers"). In matters of legislation it is essentially co-equal with the Senate, with the exception of the rule provided by the Constitution that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. While the House has the power of impeachment over federal officials, the Senate has the duty to try these officials. The Senate also has exclusive power to ratify treaties and approve presidential appointments.
Because of the large size of the House of Representatives, much of the power of the House is in the committees. The House Committee on Rules is particularly powerful because each bill submitted to the floor of the house must have a rule assigned by the committee which limits the amount of debate and more importantly specifies what amendments can or cannot be allowed in the course of the debate. The rule approved by the Rules Committee is subject to acceptance or rejection by a vote of the full House.
Another important committee is the House Committee on Ways and Means which is responsible for taxation and is particularly powerful because of the constitutional requirement (in Article 1, Section 7) that bills raising revenue shall originate in the House. The House Committee on Appropriations is another important committee whose power derives from its ability to consider funding for government projects.
Unlike senators, most House members have little individual power, and typically will ally themselves in informal caucuses with other members from similar districts.
The House chamber is located in the south wing of the United States Capitol, in Washington, DC.
In New York City on April 1, 1789 the House held its first quorum and elected Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania as the first House Speaker.
On August 8, 1911, Public Law 62-5 set the number of representatives in the House of Representatives at 435 but the law didn't take effect until 1913.
In 1917 Jeannette Rankin became the first female elected representative.
Composition of the 108th Congress (2003-2005)