Two bronze fasces—a symbol of authority since Roman times—are mounted on the wall behind the rostrum. The fasces are approximately four feet high and one foot wide. A leafy branch cascades behind them.
The U.S. Flag has traditionally been located behind the Speaker’s chair on the rostrum. The flag is furnished by the Clerk of the House.
Representatives introduce bills by placing them in the bill hopper attached to the side of the clerk’s desk. 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.
The Lafayette portrait was a gift from Dutch artist Ary Scheffer. Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution and the first foreign dignitary to address Congress, was a close friend of George Washington’s.
From these tables, Representatives from each party, called floor managers, control the flow of debate on bills before the House
These lecterns are used by Members addressing the House. Traditionally Democrats speak from the lectern on the left; Republicans from the lectern on the right.
The mace, a symbol of power in ancient Rome, is used by the House Sergeant at Arms to bring the Chamber to order and to end altercations. This mace, 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.
This three-tiered structure dominates the Chamber. The Speaker presides from atop the rostrum, with the assistance of the Parliamentarian; lower tiers of the rostrum provide space for staff who assist with Floor operations. This wood-paneled rostrum replaced the original, marble structure during renovations in the middle of the twentieth century.
The coin silver inkstand, the oldest surviving relic of the U.S. House of Representatives, is placed on the Speaker’s lectern before the Speaker calls each session of the House to order.
Votes are registered on the panels above the Press Gallery at the front of the Chamber. When Members are not voting, the panels are disguised as ornate tapestry.
The voting machine, introduced in 1973, has significantly expedited the Members’ voting procedure. The machine is operated by using a voting card.
America’s most beloved hero is memorialized throughout the Capitol. The House commissioned John Vanderlyn to paint Washington’s likeness expressly for the Chamber.
The area directly in front of the Speaker’s rostrum is called the well of the House. Members speak from the lecterns. Seated at a table between the lecterns, official reporters transcribe House proceedings for the Congressional Record.