High School Home :: Meet the Clerk

Meet the Clerk

The Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, along with the other House officers, is elected every two years when the House organizes for a new Congress. Majority and minority caucuses nominate and the full House elects the House officers. The Clerk organizes the House and presides over its activities at the commencement of each Congress.

There is no limit to the number of terms that a Clerk can serve. The Clerk, like other House officers, has minimal political influence.

The Clerk’s duties are similar to those of the Secretary of the Continental Congress, which were established in March 1785. The House Rules and federal law charge the Clerk to administer a range of legislative services on behalf of the House.

At the beginning of each Congress, the Clerk calls the Members-elect to order, calls the roll, and pending the election of the Speaker of the House, preserves order and decorum and decides all questions of order.

At the beginning of every session of Congress, the Clerk:

  • Prepares and distributes a list of reports that are required to be made to Congress
  • Notes all questions of order and decisions thereon
  • Prints these as an appendix to the House Journal.
After each session of Congress, the Clerk prepares and prints the House Journal.

The Clerk attests to the accuracy of all bills and resolutions and to their passage by the House, and affixes the seal of the House to all writs, warrants, subpoenas, and formal documents issued by the House.

The Clerk receives messages from the President of the United States and the U.S. Senate when the House is not in session, and prepares and delivers messages to the Senate and others, as commanded by the House. The Clerk is also the custodian of all official House records.

This may sound like a lot of work for one person, but the Clerk has a team of people to assist them, including lawyers, historians, librarians, writers, graphic designers, web developers, computer specialists, and administrative specialists.

The Clerk’s title and duties originated with the British House of Commons. Many countries, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and Nigeria, also have Clerks to maintain records and oversee legislative activities in their governments.

The first Clerk, Virginian John J. Beckley, Esq., was elected on April 1, 1789 at the beginning of the first U.S. Congress.

The Clerk Today

Kevin F. McCumber is the Acting Clerk of the House of Representatives. Mr. McCumber began his long tenure with the Office of the Clerk in 1996 as a House Page. He rejoined the Clerk's office in 2000 and worked in a variety of roles until 2006, when he left to study political science at the University of Colorado and work for the Lakewood Police Department. He returned to the Clerk's office in 2012 and since then has performed nearly every role in the legislative process in some capacity. Mr. McCumber grew up in Germantown Hills, Illinois, a small farming community east of Peoria.

Additional Resources