|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Virginia's 10th district
Assumed office |
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Frank Wolf|
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates|
from the 34th district
January 13, 2010 – November 10, 2014
|Preceded by||Margaret Vanderhye|
|Succeeded by||Kathleen Murphy|
Barbara Jean Burns|
June 30, 1959
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Chip Comstock (1982–present)|
Middlebury College (BA)|
Georgetown University (JD)
Barbara Jean Comstock (née Burns; born June 30, 1959) is an American attorney and politician. A Republican, she serves in the United States House of Representatives for Virginia's 10th congressional district.
From 2010 to 2014, she was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. She first won election to her seat in 2009. She has worked in numerous positions for various government agencies, including as chief counsel of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, director of public affairs at the Department of Justice, and as a Congressional staffer. She is a founding partner and co-principal of the public relations and public policy firm Corallo Comstock.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Electoral history
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Comstock was born Barbara Jean Burns in Springfield, Massachusetts, on June 30, 1959. She is the daughter of Sally Ann Burns, a teacher, and John Ferguson Burns, national manager of polymer sales for Shell Chemicals. Comstock graduated from Westchester High School in Houston, Texas in 1977. She graduated cum laude from Middlebury College in 1981. In college, Comstock spent a semester interning for Senator Ted Kennedy. While interning for Kennedy, Comstock, who was raised a Democrat, became a Republican.
After working as a lawyer in private practice, Comstock served from 1991 to 1995 as a senior aide to Congressman Frank Wolf. Comstock then served as chief investigative counsel and senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform from 1995 to 1999, working as one of Washington's most prominent anti-Clinton opposition researchers.
Comstock worked on behalf of the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Her research team built massive stores of paper and electronic data, known as "The Gore File," that were a key source of information on the former vice president for GOP publicists and ad-makers. Comstock is credited with writing the Republican "playbook" defending Bush nominees such as John Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General. Comstock later served as director of public affairs for the Justice Department from 2002 to 2003.
Comstock and Barbara Olson, the wife of United States Solicitor General Theodore Olson, formed a partnership known to Washington insiders as the "Two Barbaras." Barbara Olson died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Comstock joined law firm Blank Rome in 2004. Comstock assisted the defense teams of both Scooter Libby and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In 2005, Comstock was hired by Dan Glickman to lobby on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America. In 2008, Comstock was a consultant on the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. Comstock is a former Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Virginia House of Delegates
In 2009, Comstock was elected to a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. She defeated incumbent Democrat Margaret Vanderhye by 316 votes. While in the state legislature, Comstock was involved in enacting legislation that increased the penalties for teen sex trafficking.
Comstock's public relations firm consulted for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), a conservative group advocating on a variety of federal labor policy issues, from 2008 through 2012. According to a 2014 report by Politico, during her time in the Virginia House of Delegates, Comstock sponsored legislation that advanced WFI's overall public policy objectives. Legislation sponsored by Comstock called for union votes by secret ballot, prevented employers from giving employees' information to unions, and prohibited awarding contracts for state-funded construction projects exclusively to unionized firms. Comstock's campaign responded to the report by saying "Barbara Comstock disclosed her federal clients under Virginia law as required."
Comstock was re-elected to her seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2011 and 2013. When she won a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2014, she formally resigned her seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and a special election was called to replace her.
U.S. House of Representatives
On January 7, 2014, Comstock announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 10th District, following the announcement that incumbent Frank Wolf would retire at the end of the 113th Congress.
The Daily Caller reported that an opposition research packet on Comstock suggested she would "likely come under fire in Virginia’s 10th congressional district race over the question of whether she is conservative enough."
On April 26, 2014, Comstock won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 10th District primary, defeating five other candidates and winning approximately 54% of the total vote.
Comstock and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie planned on attending a public meeting of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Tea Party in early August 2014. After rumors arose that the gathering could be infiltrated by Democrats, both candidates initially moved the meeting to a private location before opting to speak with the group by phone instead. This decision prompted a statement from David Sparkman, chairman of the Tea Party group, who said "I'm disappointed, I wanted to look these politicians in the eye and take their measure."
Comstock received the endorsements of the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and both the Virginia Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. On August 28, 2014, Comstock received the endorsement of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VAPBA). In 2012, the VAPBA had endorsed the Democratic challenger to Representative Frank Wolf in the same district.
Shortly before the 2014 election, Comstock's Democratic opponent, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, said that she had never had a “real job.” “Although he claims he was referring to her jobs in partisan politics,” stated the Weekly Standard, “Comstock’s campaign attacked this as a sexist remark.” Comstock herself called the remark “offensive and demeaning.”
Comstock faced Democrat LuAnn Bennett, a real estate executive and ex-wife of former Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, in the 2016 election. Given the swing state status of Virginia in the 2016 presidential election, the race was expected to be one of the most heavily contested races in the country. Democratic strategist Ellen Qualls said the 10th District is "essentially the swingiest district in the swingiest state."
In early October, following the release of the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape, Comstock called for Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race. She released a statement that in part said "This is disgusting, vile, and disqualifying. No woman should ever be subjected to this type of obscene behavior and it is unbecoming of anybody seeking high office. In light of these comments, Donald Trump should step aside and allow our party to replace him with Mike Pence or another appropriate nominee from the Republican Party. I cannot in good conscience vote for Donald Trump."
Comstock won re-election by a margin of 53–47%. In February 2015, some constituents called for Comstock to host an in-person town hall meeting rather than a "tele-town hall" conducted via phone.
In early 2017, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Comstock and her 10th district seat one of their top targets in the 2018 midterm elections. By May 2017, five Democrats had announced their candidacy for the Democratic nomination to run against Comstock. In July 2017, Republican Shak Hill, who ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014, announced that he was preparing to mount a primary challenge against Comstock in 2018. Comstock won the June 12th primary easily. “Republicans in purple districts are leaving Congress in droves,” reported the Washington Post in April 2018. “So why does Barbara Comstock want to stay?” Her answer was: “I'm healthy, my family's healthy, my kids are healthy, I love this job.”
The 2018 election for Comstock's seat was widely considered to be one of the most competitive House races, given that Democrats Hillary Clinton and Gov. Ralph Northam easily won her district in 2016 and 2017.
- Committee on House Administration
- Committee on Science, Space and Technology
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Vote Smart Political Courage Test
Vote Smart, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that collects and distributes information on candidates for public office in the United States, "researched presidential and congressional candidates' public records to determine candidates' likely responses on certain key issues." According to Vote Smart's 2016 analysis, Comstock generally supports pro-life legislation, opposes an income tax increase, supports federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth, supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, supports the building of the Keystone Pipeline, supports government funding for the development of renewable energy, opposes the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control legislation, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, supports requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, opposes same-sex marriage, and supports increased American intervention in Iraq and Syria beyond air support.
Comstock supports a ban on abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger. In 2011, Comstock voted in favor of HB 462, which required women to have transvaginal ultrasounds before receiving an abortion. When opponents pointed out that this would necessitate an internal ultrasound for early-term pregnancies, an amendment was passed to limit the requirement to external ultrasounds only. She also voted in favor of the amendment. She supports making birth control available to women over the counter.
In March 2017, Comstock signed onto a Republican resolution acknowledging the impact of human activities on global climate.
Comstock opposes net neutrality. In 2015, in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling protecting net neutrality, Comstock said that net neutrality is "government overreach" and "robs the internet of its freedom".
In March 2017 she voted to reverse a landmark FCC ruling, opening the door for internet service providers to sell customer data. During the preceding election cycle, she accepted $56,457 in donations from corporations in the telecom industry and employees of those corporations.
In a 2014 election debate, Comstock criticized President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration (see Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), calling for immigration-law policy changes to be made via legislation. Comstock also suggested tracking people entering the U.S. like "FedEx can track packages coming in here all of the time".
Comstock criticized President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying: "The president's Executive Order [goes] beyond the increased vetting actions that Congress has supported on a bipartisan basis and inexplicably applied to Green Card holders. This should be addressed and corrected expeditiously."
In February 2018, Comstock “generated national headlines when she rebuked the president during a meeting...at the White House on the dangers of the deadly gang MS-13.” Trump said that “if congressional Democrats would not support a legislative crackdown on dangerous illegal immigrants, he would advocate shutting down the federal government.“ Comstock replied, “We don't need a government shutdown....I think both sides have learned that a government shutdown was bad, it wasn't good for them.” While Comstock described the exchange as "a polite conversation,” the Washington Post said that “[e]veryone else called it an extraordinary public scolding of a sitting U.S. president.”
In 2018, the U.S Senate passed Comstock's bill H.R 3249, the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of 2017, which provided for grants to state and local entities to combat gang activity and violence.
She opposes same-sex marriage. In 2012, she voted for legislation that allowed private adoption and foster care agencies to deny adoptions to gay individuals. She supported the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond Circuit Court in 2013, Virginia's first openly gay judge. She has voted in favor of legislation to strengthen schools' anti-bullying policies.
In February 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the INSPIRE Women Act, a bill sponsored by Comstock, which compels the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to encourage women and girls to pursue an education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
She supports adult stem cell research.
In April 2016, Comstock said she would support legislation introduced by Democrat John Delaney to overhaul the board that oversees the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs Washington’s Metrorail system. The legislation would require the next three federal appointments to the authority's board of directors to be either a certified transit, management, or financial expert.
In 2017 “Comstock joined first lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump in the Oval Office as the president signed Comstock's bill, the INSPIRE Women Act, which encourages women and girls to study math and science as well as pursue aerospace careers.“
In November 2017, Comstock opposed the Senate candidacy of Roy Moore in Alabama because of sexual abuse allegations. “To date Roy Moore has not provided any credible explanation or response to the detailed allegations,” Comstock said.
In November 2017, Comstock told a House hearing on sexual harassment on Capitol Hill “that she was told about a staffer who quit her job after a lawmaker asked her to bring work material to his house, then exposed himself.”
A December 2017 article in the Weekly Standard stated that Comstock had “taken a leading role in pushing for congressional reforms aimed at combatting sexual harassment.” She had “co-sponsored a resolution that, among other small changes, requires all lawmakers and their staff to complete anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training at the start of each session,” but she saw that proposal “as a quick fix, and is looking to make broader, more authoritative changes to the law.”
In February 2018, Comstock told a House subcommittee that women were being pushed out of jobs in science and technology. In May 2018, Comstock joined with Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) in calling on airlines to address sexual harassment on flights. “Approximately 80 percent of flight attendants are female and they are often objectified on a daily basis by passengers, coworkers, and superiors,” the congresswomen wrote. “It is perhaps not surprising that sexual harassment is prevalent given the industry’s past objectification of flight attendants.”
As of 2014, Comstock had an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). In the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, she received $14,850 in campaign contributions from the NRA. In 2017, she was one of 213 co-sponsors of legislation seeking to "amend the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms." She voted for H.J.Res 40, signed into law in February 2017, which nullifies a rule that "implements a plan to provide to the National Instant Criminal History Background Check System the name of an individual who meets certain criteria, including that benefit payments are made through a representative payee because the individual is determined to be mentally incapable of managing them. (Current law prohibits firearm sale or transfer to and purchase or possession by a person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective.)"
In April 2018, NBC News reported that “in the wake of the Parkland shooting and the national movement that has followed, gun control supporters hope they can change that dynamic in this year's midterm elections, starting with Comstock’s district in northern Virginia.” Several of her Democratic opponents were “making gun control centerpieces of their campaigns.” Mark Rozell of George Mason University said that “demographic changes and current events” added up to “almost a perfect storm against her.”
In October 2008, Comstock and Democratic operative Lanny Davis co-wrote an article in the National Review in which they expressed strong opposition to the call for reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. “Historically,” they wrote, “opposition to the Fairness Doctrine has been genuinely a bipartisan issue.” They noted that opponents of the Fairness Doctrine included liberals like Dan Rather and Alan Colmes and conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and recalled that in 1978 “NBC aired a show on the Holocaust and was sued by a group demanding air time to argue that the Holocaust was a myth. The network had to defend itself for over three years.” They concluded that “we need more speech, not less, and not government regulated speech.”
Among Comstock's close friends is Democrat Donna Brazile, whom Comstock helped when she “couldn't find family and friends caught up in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” Comstock said of Brazile, “We don't agree on many issues, but we consider each other to be worthy of respect.” She is also close to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who when her father was rushed to the hospital went to her parents' house to “monitor...the pumpkin bread baking in their kitchen.” Comstock was friends with legal analyst Barbara Olson, who was killed on 9/11. Another good friend is David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United and Donald Trump's deputy campaign manager. “[Trump] is the hardest-working man I've ever been around,” Bossie said. “Barbara Comstock is the hardest-working woman I've ever been around.”
|Libertarian||William B. Redpath||3,393||1.52%|
|Independent||Brad A. Eickholt||2,441||1.10%|
|Independent Green||Dianne L. Blais||944||0.42%|
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- Comstock, Barbara; Lanny J. Davis (20 October 2008). "What's Fair is Fair". National Review Online. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
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- Ruhe, Shirley (April 27, 2016). "Responding to Teen Sex Trafficking". Alexandria Gazette. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
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- Baratkoj, Trevor (November 26, 2014). "Candidates surface in race to succeed Comstock in Virginia House". Loudon Times-Mirror. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- Pappas, Alex (5 February 2014). "Here's the opposition research packet on Barbara Comstock". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Portnoy, Jenna. "Gillespie, Comstock choose call after event venue is changed to evade 'unfriendlies'". The Washington Post.
- "U.S. Chamber Backs Comstock In One Of 2014's 'Most Watched Races'". Loudoun Business. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- "NFIB Endorses Barbara Comstock for Congress". www.nfib.com. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
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- Santos, Maria; Comstock Leans In; Weekly Standard; October 31, 2014; https://www.weeklystandard.com/maria-santos/comstock-leans-in
- "Virginia 10th District: Barbara Comstock Declares Victory". NBC Washington. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- LuAnn Bennett declares congressional bid against Barbara Comstock
- Outrunning Bellwethers and Coattails in a Swing State
- Portnoy, Jenna (8 October 2016). "Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia urges Trump to drop out of race". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
- 2016 November General
- DCCC Targets Trump Districts in 2018
- Fifth Democrat jumps into race to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock
- Commentator may run against Comstock in 2018 state election
- Portnoy, Jenna; Republicans in purple districts are leaving Congress in droves. So why does Barbara Comstock want to stay?; Washington Post; April 19, 2018; https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/republicans-in-purple-districts-are-retiring-in-droves-why-not-embattled-rep-comstock/2018/04/19/bca707a6-40eb-11e8-ad8f-27a8c409298b_story.html
- Wong, Scott; Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump; The Hill; May 9, 2018; http://thehill.com/homenews/house/386820-comstock-keeps-focus-local-as-democrats-highlight-trump
- Leahy, Norman; Virginia’s 10th is no guarantee for Democrats; Washington Post; May 25, 2018; https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-opinions-are-local/wp/2018/05/25/virginias-10th-is-no-guarantee-for-democrats/
- Why Comstock may be the favorite to battle Kaine in 2018
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- Weiner, Rachel (September 15, 2014). "Foust reminds voters of Comstock's vote for 'transvaginal ultrasounds' in new ad". The Washington Post.
- "Barbara Comstock and LuAnn Bennett on the issues". Loudon Times-Mirror. October 4, 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Jackson, Brooks (September 26, 2014). "Abortion Distortions 2014". FactCheck.org. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Virginia ultrasound bill goes into effect Sunday". Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- Spencer, Jason (23 October 2013). "Comstock, Murphy On The Issues". Mclean Patch.
- Burleigh, Nina (March 15, 2017). "House Republicans Buck Trump, Call for Climate Change Solutions". Newsweek. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
- GovTrack,  H.R. 1628
- Onofrio Castiglia. "Local small business owners concerned about net neutrality law repeal". The Winchester Star. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
- Sottek, T. C. (2017-03-29). "The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
- Trevor Baratko, In hopes of highlighting Comstock’s immigration record, Democrats deliver Fed-Ex boxes, Loudon Times-Mirror (August 7, 2015).
- "Virginia 10th Congressional District Debate: Clip". C-SPAN. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- Sakuma, Amanda (25 September 2014). "GOP candidate: US should track immigrants like Fed-Ex packages". NBC Universal. MSNBC. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Washington Post.
- Portnoy, Jenna; Comstock to Trump: ‘We don’t need a shutdown over this’; Washington Post; February 26, 2018; https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/comstock-tells-trump-we-dont-need-a-shutdown-over-this/2018/02/06/2ae5bed4-0b7b-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html
- Portnoy, Jenna; House passes Comstock bill targeting immigrant members of MS-13 gang; Washington Post; September 14, 2017; https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/house-passes-comstock-bill-targeting-immigrant-members-of-ms-13-gang/2017/09/14/71e97ce0-9956-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html
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- Butler, Ryan (February 28, 2017). "Trump Signs Comstock's INSPIRE Women Act". Loudoun Triburne. Loudoun County, Virginia. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
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- Berenson, Tessa; 'Beyond Disturbing.' Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock Denounces Roy Moore; TIME; November 10, 2017; http://time.com/5019681/barbara-comstock-roy-moore-senate/
- Rep. Barbara Comstock says Capitol Hill lawmaker exposed himself to staffer; PBS News; November 14, 2017; https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/rep-barbara-comstock-says-capitol-hill-lawmaker-exposed-himself-to-staffer
- Wishard, Grant; Actually, Barbara Comstock Has Taken the Lead on Combatting Sexual Harassment; Weekly Standard; December 13, 2017; https://www.weeklystandard.com/grant-wishard/actually-barbara-comstock-has-taken-the-lead-on-combatting-sexual-harassment
- Niiler, Eric; CONGRESS TAKES ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE SCIENCES; Wired; February 28, 2018; https://www.wired.com/story/congress-addresses-harassment-in-the-sciences/
- Lois Frankel, Barbara Comstock Want Airlines to Cut Down on In-Flight Sexual Harassment; Sunshine State News; May 30, 2018; http://sunshinestatenews.com/story/lois-frankel-barbara-comstock-want-airlines-cut-down-flight-sexual-harassment
- NRA-PVF. "NRA-PVF | Vote Freedom First, Vote Barbara Comstock for Virginia's 10th U.S. Congressional District". NRA-PVF. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- "Analysis | Have your representatives in Congress received donations from the NRA?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- Richard, Hudson, (2017-12-07). "H.R.38 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- Sam, Johnson (2017-02-28). "Text - H.J.Res.40 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007." www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- Hickman, Renee; In rapidly changing Northern Virginia, gun debate is a dilemma for Barbara Comstock; NBC News; April 14, 2018; https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/rapidly-changing-northern-virginia-gun-debate-dilemma-barbara-comstock-n864051
- What’s Fair Is Fair; National Review, October 20, 2008; https://www.nationalreview.com/2008/10/whats-fair-fair-barbara-comstock-lanny-j-davis/
- "COMSTOCK, Barbara J., (1959 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Congress.gov. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- "2014 Election Results". Virginia Department of Elections. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-05.
- Congresswoman Barbara Comstock official U.S. House site
- Comstock for Congress official campaign website
- Barbara Comstock at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district
January 3, 2015 – present
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority