Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970

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The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91–510) was an act of the United States Congress to "improve the operation of the legislative branch of the Federal Government, and for other purposes".[1] The act focused mainly on the rules that governed congressional committee procedures, decreasing the power of the chair and empowering minority members,[2][3] and on making House and Senate processes more transparent.[4]

Provisions[edit]

  • Required that reports on a measure be made available 3 days before a floor vote.[3]
  • Established procedures for recorded votes in the House Committee of the Whole and led to the installation of electronic voting machines.[3][4][5]
  • Provided procedures to combat non-germane amendments in conference reports and compromises that exceeded the scope of the disagreement between House and Senate versions of the bill.[3]
  • Required that debate time on conference reports be equally divided between the two major parties.[3][6]
  • Allowed committees to meet while the Senate was in session, with approval of the Majority and Minority leaders.[6]
  • Expanded committee staffing, gave minority members greater say in staff selections, and required majority approval for committee staff hirings and firings.[7]
  • Renamed the Legislative Reference Service to the Congressional Research Service, gave it greater autonomy from the Library of Congress, expanded the services that it provided, and directed it to triple its staff.[7]
  • Revised the executive oversight functions of standing committees, requiring committees to issue biennial reports.[8]
  • Authorized funding of computer technology in member offices.[9]
  • Authorized televising of open House committee hearings.[5]
  • Created the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations.[10]

History[edit]

The origins of the act can be traced back to the formation of the Joint Committee on the Organization of the Congress in March 1965.[11] The committee held extensive hearings and issued its recommendations on July 28, 1966.[12] These recommendations "formed the backbone" of the act.[2]

On April 22, 1969, the House Rules Committee formed the Special Subcommittee on Legislative Reorganization. The chairman of the committee was B. F. Sisk (D-CA) and the other members were Ray J. Madden (D-IN), who was later replaced by John Young (D-TX), Richard Bolling (D-MO), H. Allen Smith (R-CA), and Delbert L. Latta (R-OH).[13] The subcommittee held meetings over several months, creating a draft bill, held multiple briefings for House members, followed by hearings on the draft bill. After revisions to the draft bill, the subcommittee reported the bill to the full Rules Committee in early 1970. After further amendments, the committee reported the bill on May 12.[14]

The full House began debate on the bill on July 13 and after amending it, passed the bill by a vote of 326–19 on September 17. The Senate took up the bill without referring it to committee, and passed the bill with amendments, by a vote of 59–5 on October 6. The House agreed to the Senate version by voice vote on October 8, and it was signed by President Nixon on October 26, 1970.[14]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Public Law 91-510. 91st Congress, H. R. 17654. October 26, 1970.". Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Schneider 2003 (House), p. 9.
  3. ^ a b c d e "House Floor Procedures: Reorganization in the Modern Congress". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Nixon signs law on the way Congress would conduct business, Oct. 26, 1970". Politico.com. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Enhancing Public Understanding: Historical Overview". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Senate Floor Procedures: Reorganization in the Modern Congress". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Congressional Staff and Management: Historical Overview: Historical Overview". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Legislative-Executive Relations: Other Authority, Duties, and Resources". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Information Resources and Technology in Congress: Previous Reform Efforts Addressing Information Needs". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Bicameral Relations and Interchamber Cooperation: Efforts at Bicameral Reform". Final Report of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. United States House of Representatives. December 1993. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ Schneider 2003 (House), p. 7.
  12. ^ "Joint Committee on the Organization of the Congress (1965-66)". Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ Schneider 2003 (House), p. 8.
  14. ^ a b Schneider 2003 (Senate), p. 7.

References[edit]