Growing Calls for Bipartisan Rules Reform in 116th Congress

A House ‘dear colleague’ letter, supported and posted by the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group and sent by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) and Ken Buck (R-CO-04), is urging other House members to support steps to implement bipartisan rules reform heading into the 116th Congress. The letter outlines what Kilmer and Buck say are its primary goals, arguing that, “with Congress’s approval rating continuing to hover below 20%, we have an obligation to take meaningful steps to improve how this body operates in order to serve the interests of the American people.”

 “Every few decades there have been efforts to ensure that Congress is meeting the challenges of the current day. In some cases, the changes have been imposed by the majority party, but in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1990s, Congress created Joint Committees on the Organization of Congress to review its norms and procedures to ensure its continued effectiveness as the relevant institution envisioned by the Constitution,” the letter states. “We believe it is time again for such a critical review to ensure that this institution is prepared for the realities of this century.”

The tasks of such a body would include crafting “recommendations to reinforce the role of Committees to review and craft legislation, strategies to promote ‘regular order’ for the consideration of bills on the floor, and measures to empower individual members to contribute fully to the legislative and oversight processes.”

“We also recognize that elections have consequences and that the House is a majoritarian institution,” the authors write. “We believe these proposals acknowledge those realities, while improving each Representative’s ability to fulfill our obligations to our constituents. Regardless of which party controls the House majority after the November elections, we urge you to seriously consider adopting reforms that support the goals outlined above in both the House Rules package and other appropriate enabling legislation to be adopted at the beginning of the 116th Congress.”

Posted in From the Hill

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