All legislative activities in the U.S. House of Representatives begin and end in the House Chamber. Every House bill is introduced here, and those reported out to committee return to be debated and voted on. The President delivers the yearly State of the Union address in the Chamber before a joint session of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The Chamber is also the scene of some of the most dramatic legislative events in American history—as Representatives craft laws and decide questions of war and peace.
In the early 1800’s, the House met in what is now called the “Old House Chamber,” or “National Statuary Hall.” As the nation grew, however, so did the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result of the increased number of Members, the House outgrew its meeting space.
The U.S. House of Representatives moved to its current Chamber on December 16, 1857. Upon first arriving, the House’s 234 Representatives and seven Delegates—representing thirty-two states and seven territories—sat at individual desks around the room. The United States continued to grow, however, and in 1913 the desks were replaced by theater-style seating to provide additional space for the growing membership. This update created 448 permanent seats on the House floor, ample space for the 435 Members, five Delegates and one Resident Commissioner in the current Congress.