Committee News

Congressional Committees are tasked with the responsibility of considering issues that require study and debate. Upon completion of deliberation, the committee may report its recommendations to the full body. Alternatively, the committee may choose to table the issue or recommend that it be passed as is. Committees also conduct public hearings to gather facts, opinions and testimony about a matter before the committee or assembly.

Often, the parent body sends matters into committee as a way to explore them more fully than would be possible if the assembly were to consider them at its next meeting. Each committee has a chairman who is responsible for running its meetings and for keeping discussion focused on the topic. The chairman is also the one who recognizes members to speak and confirms what the committee has decided (through voting or by unanimous consent). In general, committees follow informal procedures, although larger ones, particularly those dealing with crucial issues, will use a more formal process.

In the case of Congress, the House’s Rules package for the 117th Congress includes recommendations adopted from a Select Committee on Civility and Bipartisanship, including encouraging the use of conference rooms for bipartisan retreats and requiring members to sit next to colleagues from the opposite party during committee sessions. The committee is also addressing other areas of modernization, including expanding the availability of machine-readable legislative documents and encouraging more civility between the parties.

The first hearing of the newly formed Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party was held this week, and its chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, emphasized that the panel is not about “saber rattling.” The establishment of the committee comes amid rising tensions between the United States and China. Earlier this year, the administration imposed retaliatory tariffs on an array of Chinese imports, and last month, a F-22 jet shot down what it believed was a Chinese spy balloon in the skies over the United States. Gallagher is hoping the committee will shepherd several bills through the congressional process and make recommendations for long-term policies on how to deal with China.