There is established a special commission of the House of Representatives, designated the “House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards” (herein referred to as the “Commission”).
The Commission shall be composed of six Members appointed by the Speaker of the House, three from the majority political party, and three from the minority political party, in the House. The Speaker shall designate as Chairman of the Commission, from among the members of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service of the House, one of the Members appointed to the Commission. A vacancy in the membership of the Commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. Four members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum to do business.
In performing its duties and functions, the Commission may use such personnel, office space, equipment, and facilities of, and obtain such other assistance from, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service of the House, as such committee shall make available to the Commission. Such personnel and assistance shall include, in all cases, the services and assistance of the chief counsel or other head of the professional staff (by whatever title designated) of such committee. All assistance so furnished to the Commission by the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service shall be sufficient to enable the Commission to perform its duties and functions efficiently and effectively.
The Commission shall provide guidance, assistance, advice, and counsel, through advisory opinions or consultations, in connection with the mailing or contemplated mailing of franked mail under section 3210, 3211, 3212, 3213(2), 3218, or 3219, in connection with the operation of section 3215, of title 39, and in connection with any other Federal law (other than any law which imposes any criminal penalty) or any rule of the House of Representatives relating to franked mail, upon the request of any Member of the House or Member-elect, Resident Commissioner or Resident Commissioner-elect, Delegate or Delegate-elect, any former Member of the House or former Member-elect, Resident Commissioner or Resident Commissioner-elect, Delegate or Delegate-elect, any surviving spouse of any of the foregoing (or any individual designated by the Clerk of the House under section 3218 of title 39), or any other House official or former House official, entitled to send mail as franked mail under any of those sections. The Commission shall prescribe regulations governing the proper use of the franking privilege under those sections by such persons.
Any complaint by any person that a violation of any section of title 39 referred to in subsection (d) of this section (or any other Federal law which does not include any criminal penalty or any rule of the House of Representatives relating to franked mail) is about to occur, or has occurred within the immediately preceding period of one year, by any person referred to in such subsection (d), shall contain pertinent factual material and shall conform to regulations prescribed by the Commission. The Commission, if it determines there is reasonable justification for the complaint, shall conduct an investigation of the matter, including an investigation of reports and statements filed by the complainant with respect to the matter which is the subject of the complaint. The Commission shall afford to the person who is the subject of the complaint due notice and, if it determines that there is substantial reason to believe that such violation has occurred or is about to occur, opportunity for all parties to participate in a hearing before the Commission. The Commission shall issue a written decision on each complaint under this subsection not later than thirty days after such a complaint has been filed or, if a hearing is held, not later than thirty days after the conclusion of such hearing. Such decision shall be based on written findings of fact in the case by the Commission. Such findings of fact by the Commission on which its decision is based are binding and conclusive for all judicial and administrative purposes, including purposes of any judicial challenge or review. Any judicial review of such decision, if ordered on any ground, shall be limited to matters of law. If the Commission finds in its written decision, that a serious and willful violation has occurred or is about to occur, it may refer such decision to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the House of Representatives for appropriate action and enforcement by the committee concerned in accordance with applicable rules and precedents of the House and such other standards as may be prescribed by such committee. In the case of a former Member of the House or a former Member-elect, a former Resident Commissioner or Delegate or Resident Commissioner-elect or Delegate-elect, any surviving spouse of any of the foregoing (or any individual designated by the Clerk of the House under section 3218 of title 39), or any other former House official, if the Commission finds in its written decision that any serious and willful violation has occurred or is about to occur, then the Commission may refer the matter to any appropriate law enforcement agency or official for appropriate remedial action. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no court or administrative body in the United States or in any territory thereof shall have jurisdiction to entertain any civil action of any character concerning or related to a violation of the franking laws or an abuse of the franking privilege by any person listed under subsection (d) of this section as entitled to send mail as franked mail, except judicial review of the decisions of the Commission under this subsection. The Commission shall prescribe regulations for the holding of investigations and hearings, the conduct of proceedings, and the rendering of decisions under this subsection providing for equitable procedures and the protection of individual, public, and Government interests. The regulations shall, insofar as practicable, contain the substance of the administrative procedure provisions of sections 551–559, and 701–706, of title 5. These regulations shall govern matters under this subsection subject to judicial review thereof.
The Commission may sit and act at such places and times during the sessions, recesses, and adjourned periods of Congress, require by subpena or otherwise the attendance of such witnesses and the production of such books, papers, and documents, administer such oaths and affirmations, take such testimony, procure such printing and binding, and make such expenditures, as the Commission considers advisable. The Commission may make such rules respecting its organization and procedures as it considers necessary, except that no action shall be taken by the Commission unless a majority of the Commission assent. Subpenas may be issued over the signature of the Chairman of the Commission or of any member designated by him or by the Commission, and may be served by such person or persons as may be designated by such Chairman or member. The Chairman of the Commission or any member thereof may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses.
The Commission shall keep a complete record of all its actions, including a record of the votes on any question on which a record vote is demanded. All records, data, and files of the Commission shall be the property of the Commission and shall be kept in the offices of the Commission or such other places as the Commission may direct.
(Pub. L. 93–191, §5, Dec. 18, 1973, 87 Stat. 742; Pub. L. 93–255, §3(a), Mar. 27, 1974, 88 Stat. 52; Pub. L. 97–69, §7, Oct. 26, 1981, 95 Stat. 1043.)
Last modified: October 26, 2015