After a lengthy push from advocacy groups, House Democrats on Thursday published their caucus rules online for the public to access.
The Democratic Caucus rules govern how the party operates and include procedures for selecting party and committee leaders, doling out committee assignments and conducting caucus meetings.
The caucus discussed the rules during their weekly Monday caucus call. House Democrats voted to publish the rules online and to add a provision to encourage diverse hiring. That addition brings the total number of caucus rules to 42.
House Republicans have posted their conference rules online for several years now. While Democrats had not done so previously, many of their rules are known by reporters and others who monitor the institution.
Demand Progress, often joined by other advocacy groups, sent four letters to the Democratic Caucus over the past two years requesting that the caucus rules be posted online. The organization advocates for progressive policies on civil liberties, civil rights and government reform.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries responded to the second letter on Feb. 7, 2019, thanking the groups for their request. “We believe in transparency and accountability, and in that spirit, the issue will be presented to the caucus for consideration in short order,” the New York Democrat wrote, according to Demand Progress.
The group had been planning to send a fifth letter on Monday complaining that the rules still had not been published before the caucus did so on Thursday.
“We are pleased that House Democrats have published their caucus rules, a request we made more than 500 days ago,” Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress, said in a statement. “The House of Representatives is a majoritarian institution, so the rules that govern House Democrats are the rules that control what House Democrats do and who is empowered to make those decisions; we believe those rules should be available to the public for the sake of transparency and public accountability.”
The caucus had been working to publicize the rules but first had to update a number of items to ensure that the style and language used throughout the rules were consistent and accurate.
“As promised, we have continued our unimpeachable record of full transparency and put these rules online for everyone to see,” Democratic Caucus spokesman Michael Hardaway said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “We now return to helping Americans navigate a global health pandemic and historic economic crisis.”