Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers...”

The Speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the of Representatives. The Constitution mandates the office, but since the early 19th century the and the individual Speakers have continually redefined its contours. Rooted in British parliamentary practice, the early Speakers limited their roles to presiding over the and serving as its ceremonial head.

/tiles/non-collection/h/hh_1789_03_04_muhlenberg_hc.xml Collection of the U.S. of RepresentativesAbout this object Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the on April 1, 1789.

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Over time, some Speakers aggressively pursued a policy agenda for the while others have, in the words of Speaker Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, “come to this chair to administer rules, but not as a partisan.” Regardless, the Speaker—who has always been (but is not required to be) a Member with the same obligations to his or her constituents like the other 434 Members—is at the levers of power. The Speaker is simultaneously the’s presiding officer, party leader, and the institution’s administrative head, among other duties.

The Speaker is elected at the beginning of a new Congress by a majority of the Representatives-elect from candidates separately chosen by the majority- and minority-party caucuses. These candidates are elected by their party members at the organizing caucuses held soon after the new Congress is elected. In cases of an unexpected vacancy during a Congress a new Speaker is elected by a majority of the from candidates previously chosen by the two parties.

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The Speaker of the is by law second in line to succeed the President, after the Vice President, and 25th Amendment makes the Speaker a part of the process announcing presidential disability.

Information on the current Speaker, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, is available at the web site of the Speaker of the Speaker Pelosi is the 52nd individual to serve as Speaker of the In total, 54 Representatives have served as Speaker. Seven individuals have served non-consecutively: Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, Henry Clay of Kentucky, John W. Taylor of New York, Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine, Sam Rayburn of Texas, Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, and Nancy Pelosi of California.