The American people want a change in Washington. That’s the message they sent in this month’s elections. Voters objected to the abuses of power of the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi single-party rule. So Republicans will control the House in the 118th Congress.
To acknowledge and reflect the sentiment behind that message, the House’s new GOP leadership first should reform its own internal party conference rules. (RELATED: FORMER REP. JASON LEWIS: How The Census Saved The Democrats)
For too long, the leadership of the House Republican Conference has used its internal conference rules to hoard power unto itself, to the detriment of conservative victories on the legislative and political fronts. The leadership does this by using the internal party conference rules to control committee assignments, how legislation will be considered, and spending, among other things.
House Republicans gathered two weeks ago, after the elections, to begin their preparation for taking control of the House in the next Congress. They began by selecting their leaders for the next Congress, and by taking up some proposed amendments to their internal conference rules.
On Wednesday, they will take up the remaining proposed changes to their internal conference rules.
Two in particular stand out — amendment #21, offered by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and amendment #24, offered by Chip Roy of Texas.
Perry’s amendment is simple: Bills passed in a House controlled by a GOP majority must be supported by a majority of the House Republican Conference.
It would make absolutely no sense for a GOP leadership in a GOP-majority House to advance a bill that does not have the support of a majority of the majority. By definition, in order to pass, that bill would need many, many Democrats to support it, and that means it very likely would be opposed by the party’s grassroots base. It would be contemptuous of its grassroots base for a GOP leadership to advance such a bill.
Look at it this way – the House Democrat leadership would certainly never put a bill on the floor that was opposed by a majority of its caucus.
In order to ensure that the only bills that pass the House of Representatives in the 118th Congress are bills that are supported by a majority of the Republicans in the House, the rules of the House Republican Conference will have to be amended.
Some will argue that this would “tie the hands” of the House GOP leadership in dealing with the Senate and the White House. Exactly!
Consider: The next speaker, whether it’s Kevin McCarthy or some other Republican, is soon to be locked in negotiations with a Democrat president and a Democrat Senate majority leader. They will be pushing the speaker to agree to a spending deal that makes their party’s base happy, to the detriment of the Speaker’s party base.
In that event, a House Republican Conference rule requiring that no legislation can come to the floor without the support of a majority of the majority would be a cudgel in the speaker’s hands. “Sorry, no can do,” he could say. “My Conference rules won’t permit me to sign off on that deal. I can’t even put that bill on the floor for a vote. Come up with something better.”
Roy’s amendment is also simple: Members must be given more opportunities to amend legislation on the floor of the House, so the Republican members of the House Committee on Rules – which determines the manner in which all legislation will be debated on the floor of the House – must be required to report all special rules to accompany legislation considered on the floor as “open” or “structured” rules that will allow amendments to be offered. Further, the Republican members of the House Committee on Rules must be required to make in order all amendments offered by a member of the Republican Conference and cosponsored by at least 10% of the Republican Conference.
Under current rules and practice, floor amendments are virtually impossible. The last time a Member was allowed to offer a change in an open process to amend legislation being considered on the floor of the House was May 2016.
What’s happened instead is that party leadership has closed off all avenues of amendment, via “closed” rules that govern floor consideration of legislation and deny the possibility of amending on the floor. Previous GOP leaderships said they were doing this in the name of “protecting” their imperiled GOP colleagues from having to cast “tough” votes on amendments offered by Democrats. Hogwash! Let the Democrats offer their amendments, if that’s what it takes to have Republicans allowed to offer their amendments. They’re grown-ups. They can handle it.
Taken together, these proposed rules changes could help yield more conservative outcomes – that is, what the voters wanted, as demonstrated by the 3-million-strong national margin of victory for GOP House candidates over Democrat House candidates.
Republican candidates all over the country ran to fix Washington. House Republicans can start that process best by fixing their own internal party conference rules.
Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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