"Congress divides its legislative, oversight, and internal administrative tasks among more than 200 committees and subcommittees. Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing. The 1946 Legislative Reorganization Act (60 Stat. 812) sets the framework for the modern committee system. The act organized the Senate and House committees along roughly parallel lines, but divergences have emerged over time. Within the guidelines of chamber rules, each committee adopts its own rules addressing organizational, structural, and procedural issues. As a consequence, there is considerable variation among panels and across chambers. At the beginning of the 112th Congress, there were 20 standing committees in the House with 103 subcommittees, and one select committee. The Senate has 16 standing committees with 74 subcommittees, as well as four select or special committees. In addition, there are four joint committees."
CRS Report for Congress, 98-241
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