Reference has been made to the great power wielded by certain committees of the House. It remains to be noticed that the large increase in the number of Representatives and the growth in volume and complexity of the matters with which they have to deal have necessitated the reference of all bills to standing committees. Thee conditions have made it impossible for the House to give any real consideration even to the most important measures of legislation, and it follows that the real processes of legislation— the discussion, the sifting, the shaping of bills —is done wholly in the eommittee-rooms. The committees. therefore, being deliberately made up with reference to the carrying out of party policy, have acquired virtual control over the legislation of the Mouse, their action on hills submitted to them being usually final and con clusive.
The 'committee system,' as it is called, was adopted by the House of Representatives at an early period of its history. At present there are forty-eight standing committees, which are appointed by the Speaker for each Congress, and which hold office during the life of the Congress. These committees vary in size, and are made .up of members of all parties. the dominant party having an etTective majority in each. The principal committees of the House are those on Rules. Appropriations, Ways and
:Means, Foreign Affairs. Judiciary, Commerce, Elections, Affairs. and Naval Affairs. The Senate, because of its smaller membership, and its tradition of dignity and deliberation, has to a large extent retained the character of a deliberative assembly, and much of the work of legislation is still actually performed by it. It has also adopted the committee system; hut its committees perform the more legitimate function of sifting and shaping the bills for their more convenient consideration by the Senate. They are appointed by vote of the Senate, and, like those of the House, hold office during the life of the Congress for which they are chosen. The most important of the Senate committees is that on Foreign Affairs, though those on Appropriations. Ways and Aleans, the Judiciary, and on :Military and Naval Affairs, also play an important role in shaping legislation. For a history of the United States Congress, see the article UNITED STATES.
The leading authorities on the position of Congress in the American scheme of government are: Woodrow Wilson. Congressional Gorern mcnt (Boston, 1855), and Bryce, The American Commonwealth (London, 1893). See, also, the authorities referred to in the article CONSTITU TION OF THE UNITED STATES.