The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the highest ranking officer of the United States House of Representatives. The position requires the speaker to head the House as well as the majority political party as well as various procedural and administration functions. The Speaker of the House also leads his or her own congressional district.
The authority of the Speaker of the House is given in Article one, section 2 which specifically states “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
This means that the representatives of the House can choose the Speaker as their presiding officer from the members of the majority party. One elected, the Speaker have the ability to choose other officers such as the clerk for the House, doorkeeper, sergeant at arms, chaplain, and other nonmembers. They can also initiate the process of removing federal officers by a vote and then trial by the Senate.
While a speaker does not officially have to be an elected member of Congress, this has never happened. The Speaker of the House is chosen every midterm election by a vote of the members of the house. After elected the Speaker of the House serves a two year term. While serving, they still act as the representative from their congressional district.
While the Speaker of the House does not always preside over regular meetings, they do often preside over special join sessions of Congress when the House of Representatives hosts the Senate. Here the Speaker of the House will determine when bills should be debated or voted on.
One of the most important features of the position of Speaker of the House is that the Speaker is only behind the Vice president in terms of the line of Presidential Succession, followed by the President pro tempore of the Senate. To date, this succession has never been acted on.
Currently Republican representative John Andrew Boehner from Ohio’s 8th district is the 61st Speaker of the House. Boehner is a graduate of Xavier University who earned a Bachelor’s degree in business. He first worked in the private sector soon ran for public office in 1984 in the Ohio General Assembly.
Boehner was then elected Congress in 1990 where he served on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce as chairman. He was elected as a House Majority Leader in 2006 and finally as the Speaker of the House in 2010.