In the United States House of Representatives, the two major political parties maintain policy and steering committees. Its primary purpose is to assign fellow party members to other House committees, and it also advises party leaders on policy.
The House Democratic Caucus has a combined single steering and policy committee, while the House Republican Conference divides the duties between two groups: a policy committee and a steering committee.
The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is chaired by the party leader in the House, which has been Nancy Pelosi since 2003, in her capacities as Minority Leader (2003-2007, 2011-2018) and Speaker of the House (2007-2011, 2019-present), when the Democrats had the minority and majority of seats in the House, respectively. The party leader also appoints two co-chairs to assist her on the committee. Rosa DeLauro has been co-chair for Steering since 2003 and Eric Swalwell has been co-chair for Policy since 2017.
The statutory members include the full caucus leadership and chief deputy whip team and the chairs or ranking members (depending on a majority or minority, respectively) of the exclusive committees: Appropriations, Budget, Energy, Financial Services, Rules, and Ways and Means. Additional members are either directly appointed by the caucus leader (Speaker in the majority or Minority Leader in the minority), elected as regional representatives, and an elected representative of the freshman class.
On November 28, 2018, Pelosi, the likely Speaker in the 116th Congress, announced that the Committee will now have three co-chairs instead of two. If her recommendation is approved, Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) will serve with DeLauro and Swalwell.
As of the 115th Congress, Democratic Representatives are currently grouped into the following 12 regions:
Gary Palmer currently chairs the Policy Committee. When the Republicans are in the majority, the chair of the House Republican Policy Committee the chair of the House Republican Policy Committee ranks fifth, below the Speaker of the House, Majority Leader, Majority Whip, and the Republican Conference Chairman. When the Republicans are in the minority, the Policy Committee chair ranks fourth, behind the Minority Leader, Minority Whip and Conference Chairman.
Statutory members include the full conference leadership, the committee chairs or ranking members (depending on a majority or minority) of Appropriations, Budget, Energy, Rules, and Ways and Means, and the elected leaders of the sophomore and freshman classes. Appointed members include regional representatives, at-large members, members from the standing committees, and designated appointees by the sophomore (2) and freshman (1) class leaders.
Regional Representatives are restructured to reflect as closely as possible an equal number of Republican members from each region; the small state group is an additional region composed of states that have one or two Republican members. As of the 116th Congress, the regions are:
The members of the committee for the 115th Congress are as follows:
Policy Committee Chairs:
|Joseph William Martin Jr.||1949-1959|
|John W. Byrnes||1959-1965|
|John Jacob Rhodes||1965-1973|
|Del M. Clawson||1977-1979|
For House Republicans, the steering committee is chaired by the party leader in the House, either the Speaker (if Republicans are in the majority) or the Minority (Floor) Leader (if Republicans are in the minority). Under rules adopted after the 1994 Republican Revolution, the House party leader (Speaker/Minority Leader) had five votes on the committee, the deputy leader (Majority Leader/Minority Whip) receives 2 votes, and all other members receive 1 vote for a total of 35 votes; a quorum requires 18 members. The current chairman of the Republican Steering Committee is Kevin McCarthy.
The Republican counterpart in the Senate is the Committee on Committees. Senate Republicans also operate a steering committee to discuss policy issues.
The current members of the committee as of incoming 116th Congress are as follows:
The House Republican Conference approved changes to the steering committee's structure on November 19, 2015. These changes include a reduction in the Speaker's weighted votes from five to four (while giving him the right to appoint a new at-large member) and phased membership adjustments. The six committee leaders that were all previously given standing membership (Appropriations, Budget, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Rules, and Ways and Means) were removed and immediately replaced by six at-large members. Additionally, any committee leader whose committee membership is under consideration by the Steering panel will sit on a rotating basis. The committee leaders' six vacant seats are to be elected by the whole Conference at-large by the end of 2015, and they will serve until the end of the 114th Congress (January 3, 2017). Following the 2016 general election for the next Congress, these at-large elected seats will be replaced by six additional regional representatives, with the new regions to be determined at that time.