Meet the Clerk

With all of the activity in the House it takes lots of people to keep things running smoothly. The founding fathers built in that help by stating in the Constitution that the House should have administrative officers including the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant at Arms.

The Clerk of the House serves as the chief legislative official of the House. The Clerk is responsible for supervising important administrative business, including keeping track of all votes taken on the House Floor, organizing the House at the start of each Congress, overseeing the House Floor, and maintaining the official records of the House.

The Clerk’s title and duties originated from the British House of Commons. Many countries, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and Nigeria, also have Clerks to maintain records and oversee legislative activities in their governments. The first clerk, Virginian John Beckley, Esquire, was elected on April 1, 1789 at the start of first Congress. Since then, more than 30 people have served as Clerk of the House.

The Clerk serves a two-year term and is elected, along with other House Officers, at the beginning of each new Congress. There is no limit to the number of terms a Clerk can serve. The Clerk, like other House Officers, has minimal political influence.

At the start of each new Congress, the House agrees to the House Rules. In addition to stating all of the official rules, the Rules of the House describe the duties of the House Officers. According to these rules, the Clerk is responsible for:

  • Calling Members to order and taking attendance on the first day of Congress
  • Keeping the official record of all votes that occur on the House Floor
  • Preparing, printing, and giving out:
    • the official list of elected Members of the House of Representatives
    • a list of Congressional official reports
    • the House Journal
  • Attaching the official seal of the House to all official House documents
  • Receiving messages from the President and Senate when the House is not in session
  • Preparing and delivering messages from the House to the Senate
  • Managing vacant House offices until new Members are elected
  • Certifying the passing of all House bills and Joint Resolutions
  • Maintaining the display of fine art in the House wing of the Capitol, House Office Buildings, and other locations under the authority of the House
  • Printing and handing out the calendars of House Floor activity
  • Managing the House Page Program

This may sound like a lot of work for one person, but the Clerk has a large team of people to help get the job done, includes lawyers, historians, graphic designers, computer specialists, web developers, librarians, writers, and administrative specialists to help get the job done.

The Clerk Today

Lorraine C. Miller is the 35th Clerk of the House of Representatives. She is the first African-American and third woman to serve as an Officer of the House. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Ms. Miller attended North Texas State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She also graduated from Georgetown School of Business with an executive master’s degree before being elected Clerk in 2007.

Additional Resources