The US House of Representatives

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Two hundred and twenty four years ago, America’s founding fathers agreed that Congress should be divided into two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Two years later, in 1789, the House of Representatives was formed.

Since then, the House has had three exclusive powers: Impeaching federal officers, selecting the president in the event of an indecisive Electoral College count, and introducing spending bills.

Here are some historical moments.

In 1789 the House formed the Committee of Ways and Means (now called the Committee on Ways and Means), which became a permanent committee eight years later, making it the oldest such committee in Congress. The exclusive power of introducing spending bills means all tax bills must originate in the House. The Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over those bills.

Between 1862 and 1866, the House passed The Homestead Act, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (abolishing slavery), and the 14th Amendment (protecting the civil rights of freed slaves).

Between 1868 and 2009, the House impeached three US presidents (Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, who resigned before all the articles of impeachment were approved, and William Clinton), swore in the first African-American representative (Joseph Rainey of South Carolina), passed the GI Bill of Rights and the Civil Rights Act, created the Committee on Homeland Security, and elected the first woman as Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi of California).

Currently, the House is holding hearings on tax reform. Concepts being considered include consumption taxes (the Fair Tax and VAT taxes), and a reduction in marginal rates on business income tax.

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