There are seventy-two subcommittees in the Senate.
The House has more committees with more than sixty members than the Senate has.
The size of the committees and the ratio of majority to minority members on each are determined at the start of each Congress by the majority leadership in the House and negotiations between the majority and minority leaders in the Senate.
The chairs wield considerable power and are coveted positions and the standing committee membership is relatively stable.
The policy areas represented by the standing committees of the two houses are roughly the same as the House of Representatives.
The House Rules Committee gives a "rule" for each bill that tells when it will be debated, how long debate can last, and so on.
Without the organization and structure provided by the Rules Committee, debate would quickly become chaotic.
The structure's effects on legislation are not neutral.
Since the majority party in the House controls the committees, the rule is that the debate should reflect the priorities of the majority party.
A select committee can be appointed when a problem does not fall under the jurisdiction of a standing committee.
These committees do not recommend legislation.
The Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparedness for and Response to Hurricane Katrina was used to gather on Homeland Security after the September 11 terror attacks.
The House of Representatives voted in May of last year to establish a select committee to investigate the attack on the diplomatic mission in Libya.
Some areas of the house have coordinated activities to speed up the consideration of legislation.
In the 115th Congress, the committees were on printing, economics, taxation, and the library.
Before a bill can become law, it must be passed by both houses of Congress.
Because the legislative process in each house often subjects bills to different pressures, they may be very different by the time committees made up of members of both houses of Congress commissioned to resolve these differences, after which the bills go back to each house for a final vote.
The chair of the committees that considered the bill is usually tapped by the presiding officer of each chamber to be a member of the conference committees.
The conferees are usually members of the committees.
The conference committees used to be small.
As Congress has tried to work within severe budget restrictions and across the divide of increased party polarization, it has taken to passing huge "megabills" that collect many proposals into one.
Conferences have expanded in turn, sometimes ballooning into huge affairs.
This has given rise to a relatively new process of "omnibus" legislation in which the committees play a less central role and congressional leadership is much more involved, even at early stages.
When we talk about policymaking, we discuss these changes.
Getting on the right standing committee is important for members of Congress because they can accomplish a lot through their work on these committees.
The Agriculture Committee for farm states' legislators and the Defense Committee for members with military bases or contractors in their districts are examples of good matches.
Influence is something some members like to accumulate.
The House Rules Committee is very powerful.
Its members are in a position to give preferential treatment to members whose bills have to go through the committee.
The four most powerful Senate committees are Appropriations, Armed Services, Finance, and Foreign Relations.
Occasionally the awarding of committee assignments has been used by the parties to reward those who support party positions, but in general both the Democrats and the Republicans accommodate their members when they can, since the goal of both parties is to support their ranks and help them be successful.
The committee chairs of Congress were in charge of congressional power for most of the twentieth century.
Seniority is important, but chairs serve at the pleasure of their caucuses and the party leadership.
Congress needs expertise and information to guide government lawmaking.
The sheer amount of information generated by the executive branch on the one hand, and the sheer informational demands of the policy process on the other, make members no match for them.
The congressional bureaucracy has grown due to the need for independent, expert information and the reelection imperative.
The average number of staff members for representatives and senators is around seventeen and forty, but the numbers vary by state.
Legislative work can be assigned to staff members at the member's discretion.
The majority of those doing primarily constituency work are located in the district or state.
College students are often interns in offices, who supplement the full-time staff.
The committees' staffs do a lot of the committee work, from honing ideas, suggesting policy options to members, scheduling hearings, and recruiting witnesses to actually drafting legislation.
Because of the huge workload, members rely on staff a lot, which can give them a lot of influence.
Congress has built its own research organizations and agencies in order to facilitate its work since Vietnam and Watergate.
These are nonpartisan and provide expert advice and technical assistance.
The Congressional Research Service is part of the Library of Congress.
If Congress is considering a bill to relax air quality standards in factories, theCRS can determine what is known about the effects of air quality on worker health.
The GAO audits the books of executive departments and conducts policy evaluation and analysis to help Congress determine the nature of policy problems, possible solutions, and what government agencies are doing to solve the problems.
The committee staffs work on legislation and oversight.