A Message from Paul D. Ryan, Speaker of the House
Welcome to the Hall of the House of Representatives.
You have likely seen this Chamber on television, but it is not until you see it in person that you truly feel the sweep of history and the gravity of the moment. No matter how many times I have walked into this Chamber, I am still awestruck.
Just think about all the things that have happened here. This is where FDR declared December 7, 1941, to be a “date which will live in infamy.” It is where the Civil Rights Act and so many landmark laws have been debated and approved. It is where Pope Francis became the first pontiff to address Congress.
Since 1857, this is where we have done the people’s business. Here, men and women from all walks of life strive to find common ground for the common good. When this Chamber bustles with activity, there is nothing like it. Through every up and down, this remains representative democracy at its finest.
So, welcome. With this brochure, we 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.
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.