Speaker of the House

The above button for the current speaker of the house Paul Ryan’s 2016 campaign button.

The Speaker of the House works as the presiding officer of the United States of Representatives. The position was established by the virtue of Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution in 1789.

Next to the vice-president, the Speaker falls second in the United States presidential line of succession. In the United States, the Speaker is primarily concerned with the majority party’s legislative goals and agenda. He more specifically assigns tasks to various members of the House from the majority party. During debate, he does not take sides and seldom votes when it comes to certain political matters. In addition, the Speaker of the House is also assigned with administrative and procedural responsibilities and representing their Congressional districts.


The first person given the task of being the Speaker was Frederick Muhlenberg. However, the position started to have pertinent influence on politics during the tenure of Henry Clay. Clay became popular for being highly involved in debates and using his influence to achieve things that were in his favor. After Clay’s service ended, the prowess possessed by the Speaker weakened for quite some time.

In the 19th century, the Speaker started to gain political power again. This could be exemplified by the period when the Speaker also served as the Chairman of the Committee on Rules, which eventually became one of the most influential committees of the House. In addition, some Speakers eventually became prominent figures in their political parties just like, Samuel J. Randall, John Griffin Carlisle, James G. Blaine, and Joseph Gurney Cannon.

The person who greatly played a role in increasing the power held by the Speaker was Thomas Beckett Reed. He usually opposed the bills proposed by the minorities and used the “disappearing quorum” to thwart them.

The pinnacle of the Speaker of the House was reached during the service of Joseph Gurney Cannon. During his term, he posed certain control over judicial matters. This extraordinary political powers made a number of Republicans and Democrats work against him and strip him of his power.

Another powerful Speaker was Sam Rayburn who held the position the longest. Some of his works included passing a number of bills and implementation of some domestic and foreign assistance programs. In 1975, the Speaker was given the power to appoint members of the Rules Committee.


Aside from serving a partisan role in government, the Speaker also contributes in passing the legislation’s presented by House’s majority parties. Sometimes, the role played by the Speaker seems to be more important than that of the President especially during the instances that the people holding those positions belong to the same political parties.


The Speaker poses certain influence on some matters that concern the House and the government. For example, he can assign another member of the House to be his replacement during his absence or just let them experience the power exercised by one who works as the Speaker. The Speaker also makes sure that each member of the House are in their best behavior during House meetings.

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