The Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House is the head of the United States House of Representatives. The political party that holds the majority in the House typically gets to select the Speaker. A vote is taken on the first day that a new Congress meets and it is expected that everyone will vote for someone from their own party, so the party with the most members is assured of getting its choice. It is not required that the Speaker be a member of Congress but nobody outside of Congress has ever been chosen to be the Speaker.

As a member of Congress, one role that the Speaker has is to serve constituents from its district. That includes listening to constituent concerns and voting on issues that are important to constituents. As the leader of the House of Representatives, the Speaker also calls all meetings to order and makes sure that all rules are followed. In order for a member of Congress to be heard, the Speaker must first call on that member and grant permission to speak. It is also the responsibility of the Speaker to set the agenda for the House. The Speaker decides when a certain bill will be discussed and when a vote on passing the bill or not will be held.

Perhaps the most important responsibility for the Speaker of the House is as second in line to become president of the United States if the president cannot complete his or her term. The vice-president is the first in line and there have been occasions when the vice-president has finished a presidential term due to death and, in the case of Richard Nixon, resignation. However, there has never been a time when the Speaker of the House has had to serve as the president of the United States.


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