Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais Page: 2 of 5
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Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais
he House of Representatives meets in the House chamber of the Capitol. In the front of the
chamber is a three-tiered, elevated dais. Seated or standing at a sizable lectern (the height
of which is adjustable) on the top level of the dais is the presiding officer. Members of the
House sit in bench-style (unassigned) seats arranged in a semicircle facing the presiding
officer. Facing the dais, Republicans traditionally sit to the right of the center aisle, Democrats to
the left. The website of the Clerk of the House provides a photograph of the House dais at
Speaker of the House
The only seat at the top tier of the dais is that of the Speaker, who is the presiding officer when
the House is meeting as the House. When not presiding, the Speaker appoints a Speaker pro
tempore to perform the duties of the presiding officer. When the House is meeting in the
Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union (the Committee of the Whole), the
chairman (a majority-party Member named by the Speaker) occupies this seat. During a joint
session or meeting of the House and Senate, a second seat is added for the Vice President to
Usually observed standing to the left of and slightly below the presiding officer (viewed from the
rear of the chamber) is the House Parliamentarian or an assistant Parliamentarian. In this role, the
Parliamentarian counsels the Speaker or chairman of the Committee of the Whole on rules and
precedents and attends the presiding officer in performing his or her duties.
Sergeant at Arms
Off the dais on the left, the Sergeant at Arms (or a deputy) is seated at a separate table. During
legislative proceedings, an assistant Parliamentarian often sits at this table or stands near it.
Elected by the House, the Sergeant at Arms is custodian of the mace, the symbol of parliamentary
power and authority. When the House is meeting as the House, the mace is on a pedestal to the
Speaker's left (viewed from the rear of the chamber). When the House is meeting as the
Committee of the Whole, the Sergeant at Arms moves the mace to a lower pedestal.
Clerk of the House
The Clerk of the House is seated to the right of and slightly below the presiding officer (as
viewed from the rear of the chamber). Elected by the House, the Clerk is the chamber's chief
legislative official. The Clerk's duties include certifying the passage of bills, delivering messages
to the Senate, and affixing the seal of the House on all formal documents. The Clerk also presides
over a new session of Congress until a Speaker is elected. Except for ceremonial occasions such
as joint meetings and sessions, the Clerk spends little time seated on the dais.
1 A PDF brochure describing other characteristics of the House floor can be found at http://clerk.house.gov/about/
Congressional Research Service
98-396 - VERSION 21 - UPDATED
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Heitshusen, Valerie. Guide to Individuals Seated on the House Dais, report, November 5, 2018; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1404240/m1/2/: accessed June 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.