Returning to the role played by delegates in the House, today we will look at their history on committees.
In contrast to the initial debate over admitting territorial delegates to the House, there appears to have been little or no controversy in the early Congresses about allowing delegates to serve on committees. James White was appointed to a select committee in 1795, and William Henry Harrison, the first delegate from the Northwest Territory (and future president), also served on a number of select committees. Indeed, in December 1799, Harrison was appointed to chair a select committee established to inquire into any necessary alterations “in the laws relating to the sale of lands in the Territory Northwest of the Ohio.” 6 Annals of Cong. 527.
The most controversial issue has been whether these delegates may constitutionally cast votes in committee, and whether this would be inconsistent with the House’s longstanding view that delegates may debate, but not vote.