What Are the Special Powers of the House of Representatives?

The United States House of Representatives has three special powers not accorded to any other body: the power to start all bills intended to raise revenue, the power to impeach federal government officers (including the president) and the power to decide a presidential election if the Electoral College vote is tied. These rights are part of the legislative branch’s checks and balances, and though the Senate dose not have the above-listed powers, the Senate does have the right to check and balance the House’s decisions on these matters. For example, once impeachment proceedings begin in the House of Representatives, the Senate has the power to hold a trial for the impeached individual.

Some of the House’s special powers get used more often than others; as of 2014, there have only been two instances of Electoral College deadlock requiring a House vote: once in 1800, when Thomas Jefferson became president, and once in 1824, when John Quincy Adams was elected. The revenue bill power comes from a Constitutional item known as the Origination Clause, sometimes referred to as the Revenue Clause, and this power is used relatively frequently because it relates to the House’s ability to introduce bills relating to raising and lowering taxes.