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Rules Committee to Democrats: Keep It to Yourselves

Don Wolfensberger, former chief of staff for the House Rules Committee in the Newt Gingrich era and now a columnist for Roll Call, offers this insight on the legislative tactics of the current House Republican leadership:

This week the Rules Committee reported two special rules for floor debate that could be identical twins. One provided for consideration of the Working Families Flexibility Act, reported by the Education and Workforce Committee. The second made in order the Full Faith and Credit Act from the Ways and Means Committee.

Both rules provided for consideration of their bills in the House, instead of the Committee of the Whole; “self-executed” the adoption of the committee-reported substitute; provided for one-hour of debate; allowed for consideration of one Republican amendment, debatable for 10 minutes; and provided the customary motion to recommit (a final minority motion).

Democrats were shut out from offering amendments to either bill, even though they filed six amendments to the first (three were later withdrawn), and nine amendments to the second measure.

There was a time in the olden days when the Ways and Means Committee, after ordering a bill reported, would adopt a motion instructing the chairman to request from the Rules Committee a modified closed rule that allowed for one minority party substitute, plus the motion to recommit.

Apparently those days are long gone.

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