Votes are registered on the panels above the House Chamber’s Press
Gallery. When Members are not voting, the panels are disguised as
|U.S. Flag. By tradition, the U.S. flag hangs behind the Speaker’s chair on the rostrum.
This three-tiered structure dominates the Chamber. The Speaker presides, with the assistance of the Parliamentarian, from atop the rostrum; staff who assist with Floor operations occupy the lower tiers of the rostrum.
Relief carvings of laurel wreaths and the words Union, Justice, Tolerance, Liberty, and Peace adorn the front.
Two bronze fasces—symbols of civic authority since Roman times—are
mounted on the wall behind the rostrum. Laurel branches, representing
victory, twine around them.
|Mace. The House Sergeant at Arms uses the mace—a
symbolic weapon which, like the fasces, represents authority—to bring
the Chamber to order and to end altercations. The mace currently in use,
with its silver American bald eagle and shaft of bound ebony rods,
dates to 1841. The original House mace was destroyed when the British
burned the Capitol in 1814.
|Portrait of George Washington. In 1834 the House commissioned John Vanderlyn to paint George Washington’s likeness
for display in the Chamber on the opposite side of the rostrum from his
comrade-in-arms, the Marquis de Lafayette. The portrait depicts
Washington in his role as statesman, with his sword concealed and hand
resting on books and documents.
|Portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette. Artist Ary Scheffer gave his portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette
to the House in honor of the Marquis’ 1824 visit to the United States. A hero of the American Revolution, Lafayette was the first foreign dignitary to address Congress.
Members address the House from a pair of lecterns. Traditionally Democrats speak from the lectern on the left and Republicans from the lectern on the right.
The area directly in front of the rostrum is called the well of the
House. Members speak from the lecterns. Seated in the center, Official
Reporters transcribe House proceedings.
|Bill Hopper. Representatives introduce bills by placing them in the bill hopper
attached to the side of the rostrum. The term derives from an
agricultural storage bin used to house grain. Bills are retrieved from
the hopper and referred to Committees with the appropriate jurisdiction.
From these tables, Representatives from each party, called floor
managers, control the flow of debate on bills before the House.
Members are free to choose any seat in the Chamber. By tradition,
Republicans generally sit on one side of the aisle and Democrats on the
other. From the perspective of this photograph, Republicans are on the
right and Democrats on the left.
|Voting Machine. Introduced in 1973, electronic voting is one in a long series of changes brought about by technological advances from the telegraph to the internet.
The doors facing the Members’ seats lead to the Speaker’s Lobby, where
Members can congregate privately while Congress is in session.