Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives

The Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The Sergeant at Arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the House.

Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives
Incumbent
Paul D. Irving

since January 17, 2012
AppointerElected by the House
Term lengthTwo years
Inaugural holderJoseph Wheaton
WebsiteSergeant at Arms

Duties

In one of its first resolutions, the 1st Federal Congress (April 14, 1789) established the role of Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives.

As the chief law enforcement officer of the House, the Sergeant at Arms is responsible for security in the House wing of the United States Capitol, the House office buildings, and on adjacent grounds. Under the direction of the Speaker of the House or other presiding officer, the Sergeant at Arms plays an integral role in maintaining order and decorum in the House chamber.

The Sergeant at Arms is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of Congress, the congressional staff, visiting dignitaries, and tourists. Towards this end, the Sergeant at Arms works in concert with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol. These three officials, along with the Chief of the Capitol Police in an ex officio status, comprise the Capitol Police Board.

Through custom and precedent, the Sergeant at Arms performs a number of protocol and ceremonial duties. Among these duties are to lead formal processions at ceremonies such as presidential inaugurations, joint sessions of Congress (such as the State of the Union address, prior to 2007), formal addresses to the Congress, greeting and escorting visiting foreign dignitaries, and to supervise congressional funeral arrangements. In this capacity, the Sergeant at Arms is most famous for announcing the arrival of the President, a responsibility that he took over from the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives when the latter position was abolished in 1995. Custom dictates that he announce the arrival of the Supreme Court, the President's cabinet, and finally the President by proclaiming, "Mister (or Madam) Speaker, the President of the United States!"

For daily sessions of the House, the Sergeant at Arms carries the silver and ebony Mace of the United States House of Representatives in front of the speaker in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal to the speaker's own right. When the body resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, the Sergeant at Arms moves the mace to a lowered position, more or less out of sight. In accordance with the Rules of the House, on the rare occasions when a Member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, on order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.

The Sergeant at Arms also performs administrative services in support of the Members, staff, and visitors associated with the security and other operations of the House.

If a quorum is not present, those Representatives who are present may vote to order the Sergeant at Arms to try to round up absent Representatives.

Capitol Guide Board

In addition to serving on the Capitol Police Board, the Sergeant at Arms served with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol on the Capitol Guide Board. This board oversaw the Capitol Guide Service, which provided tours of the Capitol to visitors and special services to tourists.

Deputy Sergeants at Arms

The Deputy Sergeants at Arms act as assistants to the Sergeant at Arms. The Sergeant at Arms has the duty of making the important decisions under his/her power, while the Deputy Sergeant at Arms often executes the decisions. The Deputy Sergeant at Arms serving under Paul Irving is Timothy Blodgett.

List of Sergeants at Arms

Sergeant at ArmsState or TerritoryTerm of ServiceCongress
Joseph WheatonRhode IslandMay 12, 1789 – October 27, 18071st9th
Thomas DunnMarylandOctober 27, 1807 – December 5, 182410th18th
John O. DunnDistrict of ColumbiaDecember 6, 1824 – December 3, 183318th22nd
Thomas Beverly RandolphVirginiaDecember 3, 1833 – December 15, 183523rd
Roderick DorseyMarylandDecember 15, 1835 – June 8, 184124th26th
Eleazor M. TownsendConnecticutJune 8, 1841 – December 7, 184327th
Newton LaneKentuckyDecember 7, 1843 – December 8, 184728th29th
Nathan SargentVermontDecember 8, 1847 – January 15, 185030th
Adam J. GlossbrennerPennsylvaniaJanuary 15, 1850 – February 3, 186031st35th
Henry William HoffmanMarylandFebruary 3, 1860 – July 5, 186136th
Edward BallOhioJuly 5, 1861 – December 8, 186337th
Nehemiah G. OrdwayNew HampshireDecember 8, 1863 – December 6, 187538th43rd
John G. ThompsonOhioDecember 6, 1875 – December 5, 188144th46th
George W. HookerVermontDecember 5, 1881 – December 4, 188347th
John P. LeedomOhioDecember 4, 1883 – December 2, 188948th50th
Adoniram J. HolmesIowaDecember 2, 1889 – December 8, 189151st
Samuel S. YoderOhioDecember 8, 1891 – August 7, 189352nd
Herman W. SnowIllinoisAugust 7, 1893 – December 2, 189553rd
Benjamin F. RussellMissouriDecember 2, 1895 – December 4, 189954th55th
Henry CassonWisconsinDecember 4, 1899 – April 4, 191156th61st
Uriah Stokes JacksonIndianaApril 4, 1911 – June 22, 191362nd
Charles F. RiddellIndianaJuly 18, 1912 – April 7, 191362nd
Robert B. GordonOhioApril 7, 1913 – May 19, 191963rd65th
Joseph G. RogersPennsylvaniaMay 19, 1919 – December 7, 193166th71st
Kenneth RomneyMontanaDecember 7, 1931 – January 3, 194772nd79th
William F. RussellPennsylvaniaJanuary 3, 1947 – January 3, 194980th
Joseph H. CallahanKentuckyJanuary 3, 1949 – January 3, 195381st82nd
William F. RussellPennsylvaniaJanuary 3, 1953 – July 7, 195383rd
Lyle O. SnaderIllinoisJuly 8, 1953 – September 15, 195383rd
William R. BonsellPennsylvaniaSeptember 15, 1953 – January 5, 195583rd
Zeake W. Johnson, Jr.TennesseeJanuary 5, 1955 – September 30, 197284th92nd
Kenneth R. HardingVirginiaOctober 1, 1972 – February 29, 198092nd96th
Benjamin J. GuthrieVirginiaMarch 1, 1980 – January 3, 198396th97th
Jack Russ[1]MarylandJanuary 3, 1983 – March 12, 199298th102nd
Werner W. BrandtVirginiaMarch 12, 1992 – January 4, 1995102nd103rd
Wilson "Bill" LivingoodVirginiaJanuary 4, 1995 – January 17, 2012104th112th
Paul D. IrvingFloridaJanuary 17, 2012 – Present112th116th (current)

See also

References


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