House Committee Assignments

This procedure is in the news again, and it’s time we went over how a Representative gets assigned, and potentially removed.

Getting Assigned

There are different types of committees on the House. 

Select committees, which are special committees formed for a specific purpose and may stay permanent or disband at the end of their served purpose, are assigned by the Speaker of the House. 

Standing committees, which are permanent to Congress, are assigned by the respective parties through a steering committee. A steering committee is a committee to assign committee members.(Say that 5 times fast). The number of members each party can have on a standing committee is based on the ratio of total members in the House. There are a few exceptions, such as the Committee of Ethics has an even amount of members of each party.

There are also joint committees which do more administrative oversight and conduct studies rather than consider measures. These committees decide their membership based on individual committee rules. 

Getting Removed

That depends on which committee the Representative is on. If they are on a select committee, the Speaker could simply strip them off of the assignment (since it is in the sole discretion of the Speaker to assign them in the first place). 

Removal from the standing committee must come from either the respective party’s steering panel (remember the committee on committee assignments) or from a simple majority vote by the whole House. In the House rules, it states that a Representative could be censured or reprimanded by a simple majority. Expulsion from the House (permanently removing the member from the legislative body) would require a 2/3rds majority – or 290 members. 

Former Representative Steve King

In 2019, Republican Representative Steve King was removed from all his committee assignments after bipartisan rebuke of his remarks on white supremacy, specifically those following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The ultimate decision came from Minority Leader McCarthy but was then ratified by the full Republican conference.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Currently, Republican Representative Greene is undergoing similar considerations by the House. Due to comments made by Greene, involving the Q-Anon theory, conspiracy around deadly school shootings, and potential threats to other members of Congress, there is a large call to have her removed from her committee assignments. Rep. Greene is currently assigned to the House Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee. 

The decision now lies with House Minority Leader McCarthy, who can choose to strip her of these assignments much like he did with King in 2019. However, House Democrats are preparing to use a full House vote to remove her if McCarthy fails to act. It is highly unlikely that Greene will be expelled from the House. 

Sources

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