Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives
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About the Office of the Clerk

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.

The Chamber has been altered several times to meet the needs of a growing membership.

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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