Unruly House Rules Committee

Not well known outside the Capitol, the House Rules Committee serves as a critical cog in the legislative wheel of the House of Representatives.  It determines what can be debated and for how long.  It is also meant to be the enforcer of the Rules that protect the integrity of the legislative process.  It’s no accident that this Congress’s approval ratings are in the basement because the Rules Committee’s approach to legislating has left the House “Out of Order.” 

The stolen vote controversy leading up to the August recess was simply the culmination of a Majority unconcerned with regular order and unable to manage the House successfully.  They have rejected more amendments and issued more closed rules prohibiting real debate than the previous Congress.  Just this week, they moved a huge S-CHIP expansion bill.  They gave the minority an hour to see if before meeting in the Rules Committee and chose to protect hidden earmarks in the bill rather expose them to debate.

We have compiled a report demonstrating that the Majority’s Rules Committee is mishandling legislation and mistreating Members — on both sides of the aisle.  They are short circuiting the legislative process in new, unprecedented ways and as a result, it’s costing the American people.

For example:

«     The Rules Committee rewrote the Farm Bill, H.R. 2419, to include a $4 billion tax increase that threatens nearly 5 million jobs.

«     The Rules Committee denied an amendment to their Energy Bill, H.R. 3221, that would have reduced the price of gas by increasing domestic refinery capacity.

«     The Rules Committee rejected an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, H.R. 1585, that would have forced the Department of Defense to focus on the health care needs of female veterans.

«     The Rules Committee refused to allow a bipartisan amendment to the Farm Bill, H.R. 2419, that would have sensibly limited the amount of benefit programs, allowing wasteful spending to continue unchecked.

«     The Rules Committee rewrote the S-CHIP Bill, H.R. 3162, at 1 a.m. to force 3.2 million seniors off of their Medicare Advantage coverage.

«     The Rules Committee created out of whole cloth a fatally flawed Terrorism Risk Insurance bill with no oversight, debate, or votes.

The report, entitled “Out of Order” is now available on the new Rules Committee Republican Web Site — which was launched this week to provide the American people with a window into the goings on in the Democratic Majority’s Rules Committee.  It’s not a pretty picture.

If the House of Representatives is to be restored to its rightful purpose as the voice of the American people, and the new Majority is to live up to its promises and the Rules Committee must do a better job of allowing open and honest debate on behalf of the American people.  A true marketplace of ideas relies on openness and transparency.  This Rules Committee has provided neither.  Sadly, if the last nine months are any guide, this Congress will remain “Out of Order” for some time to come.