The House of Representatives, created as the "popular" branch of government, has always had direct election of its members. There are 435 seats in the House; members are elected every two years and represent a district in their state, each with a population of approximately 646,952, per the 2000 US Census. All district borders are drawn by the states. Learn more about current and former leaders of the House of Representatives.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House (2009-2010)
On 4 January 2007, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made history when she was elected as the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Speaker is second in the line of succession to the Presidency (after the Vice President) under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. Since 1987, Rep. Pelosi has represented California's Eighth District in the House of Representatives. Prior to being elected Speaker, she had been a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for 10 years (the longest continuous period of service in the committee's history) including two years as the Ranking Democrat. Official Bio
Rep. John Boehner, Minority Leader (2009-2010)
John Boehner (Bay-ner, born 1949) was elected to represent the Eighth Congressional District of Ohio for a ninth term in November 2006. On 17 November 2006, Boehner was elected by his colleagues to serve as House Republican Leader. He was elected Majority Leader of on 2 February 2006 after the indictment of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX); it was the most contested election among House Republicans since 1998. In June 1995, Boehner was criticized for distributing campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as House members were preparing to vote on tobacco subsidies. He later led the effort to prohibit campaign contributions from being distributed on the House floor. Official Bio
Rep. Newton L. Gingrich, Georgia
Republican Newt Gingrich (1943- ) of Georgia was elected to the 96th and to the nine succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1979 - January 3, 1999). He was minority whip (1991-1994) and Speaker of the House (1995-1999). In 1995, Time magazine named him Man of the Year for his role in leading the Republican Revolution (Contract With America) which ended 40 years of Democratic Party majorities in the House of Representatives. During his tenure as Speaker he was the public face of Republican opposition to Democratic President Bill Clinton. Since resigning his seat, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant. Bio from U.S. Conservatives.
Rep. Samuel T. Rayburn, Texas
Democrat Sam Rayburn (1882 - 1961) of Texas served in the House from 1940 until he died in 1961. He was elected speaker in 1940 (63rd Congress); his tenure as Speaker was interrupted in 1947–1948 and 1953–1954, when Republicans controlled the House. At his death, he had served as Speaker for twice as long as any predecessor. "Mr. Sam," as he was known, refused to accept any gifts or money from lobbyists. He was a good friend of President Lyndon B. Johnson, also of Texas, and helped him become House majority leader. The Rayburn House Office Building is named for him.
Rep. Joseph G. Cannon, Illinois
Historians consider "Czar" Joseph G. Cannon (1836 – 1926) one of the most powerful Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives, a role he filled from 1903 through 1911 (58th - 61st Congress). He is the second longest-serving Republican Speaker in history. In 1910, a House revolt -- Democrats and unhappy Republicans -- ended his iron rule; among other things, the revolt removed the Speaker from the Rules Committee. "Uncle Joe" often clashed with fellow Republican Theodore Roosevelt. On his last day as a Representative, Cannon was was featured on the cover of the first issue of TIME magazine.
Rep. Henry Clay, Kentucky
Henry Clay (1777 – 1852) of Kentucky was the single most important influence upon the Speaker's office during the early history of the House of Representatives. Elected Speaker of the House on the first day of his first session, something that had not been done before nor since, Clay served off and on as Speaker from 1811 to 1825. Before Clay's tenure, the Speaker had been a rule enforcer but Clay turned the chair into a powerful and partisan post. As Speaker, Clay was a prominent War Hawk, supporting the War of 1812 with the British Empire. Clay was the founder and leader of the Whig Party; he ran unsuccessfully for President five times. Clay was the first person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.