Meet the Clerk

Karen L. Haas, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the second woman to serve as an officer of the House when she previously served as Clerk from 2005–2007.

Learn more about Ms. Haas and the Clerk's role in the legislative process.

For Teachers

Looking to bring the U.S. House of Representatives into your Middle School classroom? Visit our For Teachers section for resources, activities, and lesson plans that complement the material on this site.


A change or addition to a bill.
Bicameral Legislature
A lawmaking body with two parts. The United States Congress has a bicameral legislature, comprised of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
A legislative proposal which could be made into a law if it is passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is approved by the President.
Supported by members of two major political parties.
Advisors to the President and heads of the departments of the executive branch.
A person seeking election to an office.
The Washington, D.C. building used by the U.S. Congress for its sessions.
The presiding officer of a group or committee.
Checks and Balances
A major feature of the Federal Government’s organization, by which power is distributed across the three branches of government so that each branch checks the others.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Legislation within the United States that outlawed racial segregation in schools, public spaces, and work places.
Cold War
Conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR) from the mid-1940s to the early 1990s.
A group of Representatives or Senators established by the rules of its respective chamber, where issues are considered and legislation prepared.
Conference Committee
A group of members from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate tasked with resolving differences in similar legislation passed by both chambers.
Congressional District
A portion of a state containing approximately 600,000 people represented by one Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congressional Record
The daily record of House Floor debate and votes.
The residents of a district represented by a Member of Congress.
The legal document enumerating the structure of the United States federal government and its powers.
Dean of the House
Title given to the longest serving Member in the U.S. House of Representatives at any given time.
A formal discussion of a proposal before the House of Representatives or in committee.
A representative of a United States territory elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Delegates do not participate in votes but do serve on committees. There are delegates from five territories—the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands—in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democratic Caucus
The internal organization of the Democratic Party in Congress.
Electoral College
A group of people who represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the election of the President of the United States.
Electronic Voting System
The electronic system that is used to record roll call votes by Members in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The final version of proposed legislation passed by one chamber of Congress.
The final version of legislation that has passed by both chambers of Congress, been signed by their presiding officers, and sent to the President for his signature.
Federal Government
The central government of the United States established by the U.S. Constitution, composed of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
General Election
Election held the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years. The entire Membership of the House of Representatives is up for election on this day, as is one-third of the Senate. The President is elected every other general election.
Great Depression
The worldwide economic downturn that began in 1929 and ended in the late 1930s. It started in the United States and is often associated with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929.
A meeting or session of a committee of Congress, usually open to the public, in which testimony and arguments regarding proposed bills are presented.
A box into which a proposed legislative bill is dropped. Once the bill has been dropped in the hopper it is officially introduced to the House.
House Journal
The official log of House Floor action. The Constitution requires that both chambers maintain a journal of their proceedings.
House Leadership
The Speaker of the House and House Majority and Minority Leaders.
House Officers
The Clerk of the House, Sergeant at Arms, Chief Administrative Officer, and the Chaplain of the House.
House Rules
The rules adopted by the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, which enumerate the duties of its various officers, and the rules which govern Members and employees of the House.
House Rules Committee
The committee responsible for setting the rules to govern consideration of a bill on the House Floor. It is often referred to as the "traffic cop" of Congress.
To accuse someone of misconduct. The Constitution grants the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment.
Incorporated Territories
Regions or districts of the United States not admitted as states but that have their own legislatures and the potential to become a state.
Jim Crow
State and local laws in the United States between 1876 and 1965 that called for segregation of schools, public places, public transportation, restrooms, and restaurants.
Joint Session of Congress
A meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These meetings occur in the House Chamber, typically for addresses from the President or foreign dignitaries.
Library of Congress
Known as "America's Library," the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. It is located across the street from the Capitol.
To change the language of a bill. House or Senate committees will frequently hold markup sessions to amend legislation before it is reported to the House.
Member Cloakrooms
Rooms attached to the House chamber—one for Democrats and one for Republicans—where Members can talk privately, make phone calls, and get snacks.
People elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives who have not yet taken the Oath of Office.
Oath of Office
The oath each Member-elect must take to officially become a Member of the House.
A particular section or clause in legislation or law.
Public Policy
The set of policies that form the foundation of public laws.
The number of Members required to be present in order for Congress to conduct official business. The Constitution defines a quorum as a majority of each chamber, which is 218 in the House and 51 in the Senate with no vacancies. House Rules also state that 100 Members constitutes a quorum in the Committee of the Whole.
Republican Conference
The internal organization of the Republican Party within Congress.
Resident Commissioner
A representative from Puerto Rico, elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for a four year term. The Resident Commissioner does not participate in votes, but does serve on committees.
A measure expressing opinions on policies or issues or dealing with the internal affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.
Roll Call Votes
A call of the roll in the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate to determine whether a quorum is present or to vote on a question.
A platform for public speaking. In the House, this is the place from which the Speaker of the House, the Speaker Pro Tempore, or the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole presides.
The length of time Congress assembles to conduct business.
Legislation passed by the legislative branch and signed by the President.
A subgroup of Members of a committee in either the House of Representatives or the Senate that meets to hold hearings or consider legislation.
A motion to stop further action on a bill or a point of order.
Parts of the United States that have their own, separate governing bodies and are not included within any of the 50 states.
Unincorporated Territories
Regions or districts of the United States that are not admitted as states but that have their own legislature and no potential to become a state.
The President’s ability, as allowed by the Constitution, to prevent a bill or joint resolution from becoming a law. It can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in each chamber of Congress.
Viva Voce Roll Call
A roll call taken verbally.
Voting Card
A card, unique to each Member, used to vote with the Electronic Voting System.