GOP Wants Constitution Read on House Floor
The GOP-led Congress would impose strict new transparency requirements for committees and legislation, expand term limits for committee chairmen and allow for a reading of the Constitution on the House floor on the second day of the 112th Congress, according to a draft of the incoming majority’s rules package.
The rules package, which must be adopted by the full House on Jan. 5, includes many of the proposals outlined this fall in the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” governing document. Both Republican and Democratic Members will have the opportunity to amend the proposed changes.
Among the House changes are a requirement that all bills be available online at least 72 hours before they are voted on, that the entire Constitution be read on the House floor on Jan. 6 and that committee chairmen be limited to six years of service. The Republican Conference imposes term limits for its gavel holders, but GOP leaders want to extend those limits to the full House. Democratic Caucus rules do not limit the terms of their chairmen.
Republicans pledged to change the way the House operates if given the majority. The GOP had a net gain of 63 seats in the midterm elections and retook control of the chamber.
Other potential rules changes include a requirement that every bill introduced includes a clause citing its constitutional authority. Also, committees would be required to post their reports, votes and attendance records online, webcast their proceedings and provide three-day notice before holding bill markup.
Committees will also be required to “post online ‘truth in testimony’ information, ‘with appropriate redactions to protect the privacy of the witness’ so that any conflicts of interest with hearing witnesses are made public,” according to the proposed changes.
The rules package also includes name changes for three committees.
The Education and Labor Committee will return to its pre-2007 name, the Education and Workforce Committee; the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will become the Committee on Ethics; and the Science and Technology Committee will change to the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The Republicans would retain the Office of Congressional Ethics in its entirety.
The package also calls for several reforms to the budget process. Republicans want to repeal the “Gephardt Rule,” which provides for an automatic increase in the debt limit when a new budget resolution is adopted. They also want to replace pay-as-you-go rules with a “cut-as-you-go” rule. Under “cut-go,” mandatory spending increases must be offset by “an equal or greater amount elsewhere” in the budget.