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About the Office of the Clerk

A Message from Paul D. Ryan, Speaker of the House

Paul D. Ryan Since 1857, this hall has served as the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. And as its presiding officer, I have the best view in the House. I stand at the speaker’s rostrum, where I can see all 435 of the people’s elected representatives.

Below is the hopper, where we submit legislation, and the well, where we debate the great questions facing our country. Engraved on the wall behind me is the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.”

To my right is a portrait of George Washington, our first president.

Each year, one of his successors comes to this chamber to report to a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union. This is where we do the people’s business. So we want to welcome you here, and, with this brochure, invite you to explore this special place we call the people’s House.

A Brief History

Vital democratic processes and a rich heritage resound in the House Chamber. Legislative activities in the U.S. House of Representatives begin and end in this room. Every bill is introduced here, and those reported out of Committee return to be debated and voted on. The House Chamber hosts the President’s annual State of the Union address, delivered to a Joint Session of Congress, as well as addresses by foreign dignitaries. It has also served as the scene of some of the most dramatic legislative events in American history—as Representatives craft laws and decide questions of war and peace.

The House met in this room for the first time on December 16, 1857. Formerly the House met in the Old House Chamber, now called National Statuary Hall. Seven Delegates and 234 Representatives (from 32 states and seven territories) sat at individual desks. As membership increased, the Chamber was altered several times.

The present, theater-style seating was installed in 1913. Major renovations made from 1949 to 1951 included the removal of the original marble Speaker’s rostrum and the replacement of the stained-glass ceiling. The House Floor now accommodates 435 Representatives, five Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico.

Office of the Clerk - U.S. Capitol, Room H154, Washington, DC 20515-6601 | (202) 225-7000

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