Explain the major types of congressional committees, and discuss how the committee system operates in each house.
There are four major types of Congressional committees. Standing committees, select committees, joint committees, and conference committees. The standing committee is common, and functions as a fairly solid source of legislative debate and creation. Each standing committee is usually responsible for a number of subcommittees. For instance the Senate standing committee, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, has subcommittees in all four of those areas, as well as even more specialized committees within them. These standing committees are constantly in motion to change and alter new or existing legislation in the federal government.
Select committees, also known as special committees, are brought together on a non-permanent basis. These committees can often take the role of an investigatory group. In the news, one of the most noticeable select committees is the investigatory committee brought together to get to the bottom of the attacks in Benghazi.
Joint and conference committees are somewhat similar. However, the joint committee is when the House and Senate bring together representatives in order to help legislation through Congress. These are not usually employed to create legislation, but have a primary concern with passing existing legislation through both houses. Conference committees also have a combination of both House and Senate members coming together, but do not stand in as permanent a position as joint committees. Conference committees are not permanent, and are usually brought together to try and mediate between two sides of a legislative disagreement.