Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives

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The Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives manages, supervises, and administers its Office of the Parliamentarian, which is responsible for advising presiding officers, Members, and staff on procedural questions under the U.S. Constitution, rule, and precedent, as well as for preparing, compiling, and publishing the precedents of the House.[1]

The Parliamentarian is appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of fitness to perform the duties of the position.[2] Consultation with the Office is confidential (if requested).[3]

The Parliamentarian, or an assistant parliamentarian, usually sits or stands to the right of the Speaker or Speaker pro tempore (or the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, when the House has resolved into that forum) and advises that presiding officer how to respond to such things as parliamentary inquiries, points of order, and the ordinary workings of the procedures of the House.


The position of parliamentarian was previously known as the "Clerk at the Speaker's table," in which capacity the noted parliamentarian Asher Hinds served as an adviser to the powerful Speakers "Czar" Reed and "Uncle Joe" Cannon, who used precedent and procedure to facilitate their assertive management of House business (both were excoriated by opponents as "czarlike" or "tyrannical").[4][5]

A Parliamentarian has been appointed by the Speaker in every Congress since 1927. In the 95th Congress the House formally established an Office of the Parliamentarian to be managed by a nonpartisan Parliamentarian appointed by the Speaker (2 U.S.C. 287). The compilation and distribution of the precedents of the House are authorized by law (2 U.S.C. 28 et seq.). The current Parliamentarian is Thomas J. Wickham Jr. He succeeds John V. Sullivan (2004-2012), Charles W. Johnson III (1994–2004), William Holmes Brown (1974–1994), and Lewis Deschler (1928–1974).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2 U.S.C. § 287, et seq.
  2. ^ 2 U.S.C. § 287a.
  3. ^ House Rules Committee.
  4. ^ Bolles, Blair. Tyrant from Illinois: Uncle Joe Cannon's Experiment with Personal Power. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1951.
  5. ^ Grant, James. Mr. Speaker! The Life and Times of Thomas B. Reed, the Man Who Broke the Filibuster. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.