The Speaker of the House of Representatives is widely viewed as symbolising the power and authority of the House. The Speaker's most prominent role is that of presiding officer of the House. In this capacity he is empowered by House rules to administer proceedings on the House floor. The Speaker also oversees much of the non-legislative business of the House, including general control over the Hall of the House and the House side of the Capitol, as well as serving as Chairman of the House Office Building Commission. His role as 'elect of the elect' in the House also places the Speaker in a highly visible position with the public. The Speaker serves not only as titular leader of the House, but also as leader of the majority party as well. The Speaker is often responsible for airing and defending the majority party's agenda in the House. The Speaker's third distinct role is that of an elected Member of the House. Although he is elected as an officer of the House, the Speaker continues to be a Member as well. As such he enjoys the same rights, responsibilities and privileges as all Representatives.
However, he traditionally refrains from debating or voting in most circumstances, and does not sit on any standing committee of the House. The formal powers of the office do not fully reflect the measure of the Speaker's authority. A Speaker must be able to use his powers of persuasion and bargaining as he attempts to balance the overlapping and sometimes conflicting roles of the job. This book details the powers of this prestigious post and presents biographies on the occupants since 1789.