United States House of Representatives - Officers - Member Officials - Leadership and Partisanship

Leadership and Partisanship

Representatives are generally less independent of party leaders than senators, and usually vote as the leadership directs. Incentives to cooperate include the leadership's power to select committee chairs, determine committee assignments, and provide re-election support in the primary and general elections. As a result, the leadership plays a much greater role in the House than in the Senate, an example of why the atmosphere of the House is regarded by many as more partisan.

When the Presidency and Senate are controlled by a different party from the one controlling the House, the Speaker can become the de facto "leader of the opposition." Some notable examples include Tip O'Neill in the 1980s and Newt Gingrich in the 1990s. Since the Speaker is a partisan officer with substantial power to control the business of the House, the position is often used for partisan advantage.

In the instance when the Presidency and both Houses of Congress are controlled by one party, the Speaker normally takes a low profile and defers to the President. For that situation the House Minority Leader can play the role of a de facto "leader of the opposition", often more so than the Senate Minority Leader, due to the more partisan nature of the House and the greater role of leadership.

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The People's House - Officers - Member Officials - Leadership and Partisanship
... party leaders than senators, and usually vote as the leadership directs ... Incentives to cooperate include the leadership's power to select committee chairs, determine committee assignments, and provide re-election support in the primary and ... As a result, the leadership plays a much greater role in the House than in the Senate, an example of why the atmosphere of the House is regarded by many as more partisan ...

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