Speaker of the House

Preside over debates and voting at the House of Representatives.

What does a Speaker of the House do?

The first Speaker of the House was elected in 1789. Much has changed since that time. Meetings are no longer held in secret, for example, and Representatives don’t travel to the meetings via horse and buggy.

Some things haven’t changed, however. Egos in Congress can be big, and differences in opinion can be even bigger. The Speaker of the House helps ensure that people stay moderately polite and that goals are met in this charged environment.

As Speaker of the House, you have one job duty you may hope you’ll never have to tackle. If the President and the Vice President are killed, you must step in as President. While the possibility is small, it certainly does exist.

Setting the schedule for the House of Representatives is your main task. You decide which bills will be voted on, and you determine when voting will begin. Often, you confer with your colleagues about which pieces of legislation are most important to your political party, and you place those bills a bit higher in the schedule.

The President also has strong feelings about what happens in the voting arena, and you meet with him frequently. If you’re both members of the same political party, your meetings may be friendly and intimate. If you’re in opposing groups, your talks may be a bit more tense. After those meetings, you give statements to Reporters.

When debates and voting take place, you’re in charge. Calling people to speak and stepping in when someone is out of line are your tasks. Rarely do you cast a vote yourself or participate in the debates.