Conservatives Must Reform the House

Blog Articles · Nov 10, 2022

Americans are anxiously awaiting a Republican majority to take back control of the House of Representatives. They are ready to end the Left’s march into every aspect of our lives, prevent unencumbered spending on the Left’s radical agenda, and give power back to the people and their elected representatives. The first part of this fight will center around how the House of Representatives is run – known as the Rules of the House of Representatives and House Republican Conference Rules – and the ability of individual members to take action. Here is everything you need to know about the fight.

Rules of the House of Representatives

The Rules of the House of Representatives are just that, a governing structure that determines how the House functions and considers legislation. The U.S. Constitution provides that each “House may determine the rules of its proceedings”; so every two years, Congress has the opportunity to determine its own rules governing how the institution operates.

The rules include instructions on the day-to-day schedule of the House, how committees conduct their work and their structure, and how legislation is introduced and considered. However, over time, these governing rules have become more and more focused on consolidating power and decision-making in the Speaker’s office, removing the ability of rank-and-file members to influence legislative outcomes or have their constituents' voices heard.

This gradual change over time was set on fire by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Left. Since Democrats came into power in the midterms of 2018, Speaker Pelosi and the Left have destroyed the normal legislative process and further consolidated power in the Speaker’s office, leading to her and any future Speaker having unrivaled control over the House.

These changes include the allowance of “proxy” voting, which allows members to designate another member to vote on legislation without being physically present, removing the ability of members to offer motions to vacate the chair, a procedural tactic to replace the current leadership, waiving pay as you go requirements for legislation, allowing earmarks on appropriation legislation, allowing the debt ceiling to be raised by procedure rather than a stand-alone vote, and the removal of the 72-hour requirement for legislation to be announced before a vote occurs.

Collectively, these rule changes allow the Speaker to force legislation through without input from any members other than the leadership. This has resulted in annual trillion-dollar-plus omnibus appropriation bills that fund the Left’s priorities - from destructive climate initiatives to discriminatory racial “justice” programs - along with the passage of additional stand-alone legislation that does the same. Conservatives should be commended for fighting to reverse Pelosi’s rule changes and for fighting for additional ones that will return power to individual representatives and, by extension, the people who sent them to Washington.

Conference Rules

House Republicans, in a new majority, would also have the opportunity to set their own governing rules for how they work with each other - Republican to Republican. These include provisions dictating how members are chosen to serve on the Steering committee, an internal body that determines who sits on committees, provisions on how a bill can be considered on the floor of the House, once on the floor, how bills can be amended or changed, and what can be added to the suspension calendar.

Unfortunately, Republican conference rules have also been used to consolidate power. The changes, which occurred over decades, have ensured that the leadership of the conference is able to stack the decks against rank-and-file members by restricting membership of the steering committee, appointing allies to key committee posts, closing legislation to amendment on the floor, and adding legislation to the suspension calendar that is not agreed to by a majority of conservatives. The result is that the vast majority of members’ only impact on the legislative process is to vote yes or no on the House floor on massive pieces of legislation which they had zero input on drafting. Rules should provide robust participation by each individual member.

Why Does This Matter

A new House majority must take action to address the immigration crisis, the sanctity of life, the woke hysteria sweeping through our institutions, and an economy on the brink of collapse. Without each member being empowered to represent their constituents fully, there will be a limited ability for conservatives to have their voices heard by the Speaker, Republican leadership, or the American people as the House considers legislation to tackle these immense challenges. Conservatives should work to return the people’s house to the representatives of the people.