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Still, the RSC wants Members to do better. The emails include a section instructing Members “how to fix this statement,” usually asking that the justification be more specific.
RSC spokesman Brian Straessle defended the group’s decision to target Democrats only, saying that Members of the minority are more prone to offer the most vague definitions — for example, citing simply “Article I.” Ninety-six Democratic bills have done so while 13 Republican bills have, according to their count.
“The tallies show that Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to offer vague justifications like citing the entirety of Article I or citing the Necessary and Proper Clause without explaining why their proposal is both necessary and proper,” Straessle said. “That being said, obviously we can all do a better job with these — which is the entire reason we’re highlighting this information in the first place.”
Forty-nine Democratic bills and 20 Republican bills have cited “Article I, Section 1,” which generally grants legislative powers to Congress, while Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, the Necessary and Proper Clause, received mention in 182 Democratic bills and 140 Republican pieces of legislation.
Democrats counter that they turn in the statements and the House parliamentarian approves them, even if they do not exactly urge their Members to go above and beyond for the Republican-created rule.
“Republicans have created the rules for this Congress and House Democrats are meeting the rules completely,” said Ellis Brachman, spokesman for House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.). “Members routinely work with the parliamentarian and the legislative counsel to pass bills, and this is meeting the rules by their standards.”