Monday, January 5, 2015

Morgan Griffith on Amending the Rule on Amendments

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"Changing the Rules: Part 2
I have previously proposed the U.S. Senate change its rules to be more efficient and to reflect the will of the people in a true democratic republican form of government.  Of course, as I don’t serve in the Senate, some are prone to say, as in Luke 4:23, “Physician, heal thyself!”

Accordingly, as of the writing of this column, I am proposing a rule change in the House of Representatives.  This change will be proposed to the House Republican Conference to be included as a part of the Republican package of rules for the 114th Congress.

In order to fix the House, there are many things that would have to change.  There is no one glaring issue that, if fixed, would resolve everything.  The process is important, and the rule change I am proposing is a start.

I believe that Members ought to be able to make more amendments on the floor than currently allowed in the appropriations process (the process that appropriates funding for government activities such as national defense, homeland security, education, etc.).

To that end, I am proposing an amendment to House Rule 21 which would give Representatives more input on spending cuts.

This particular rule began in the 1850s.  Although some changes were made to it over the years, it was basically unchanged from the turn of the century until 1983 when, to put simply, the Democrats changed it in order to make it more difficult for members to offer floor amendments.

As each new Congress gets ready to begin, members of the House of Representatives work on developing House Rules – the rules that must be followed when conducting House business.  These rules are adopted by the Representatives, and are followed for the length of that Congress.

In the 97th Congress (the first two years of the Reagan Administration), Reagan Republicans had worked with conservative Democrats.  The 1983 rule change, which first took effect in the 98th Congress (the second two years of the Reagan Administration), seemingly aimed to slow down or stop the Reagan Revolution – it was designed to lessen the ability of conservative members to offer limiting language to appropriations bills.

While debating this rule change in 1983, the Democrats denied there was a partisan motive for changing the rules.  However, I suspected this was not the case.  Accordingly, I spoke with a couple members serving in the House at that time to confirm the Democrats’ change was seen as a partisan move to block Reagan Republicans and conservative Democrats from having success on the floor on spending items.

The amendment I am offering, if adopted, would substantially restore the rule that had existed prior to 1983.  In effect, the amendment would give members the ability to offer amendments on the floor to cut the amount of money an agency could receive, for example, or the number of employees the U.S. government or its agencies could have, the amount of money that could be paid to an employee of the U.S. government, etc.

Cutting spending and giving members more input on spending cuts are worthy causes.  I am hopeful my colleagues will join me in supporting this amendment.

2015 Congressional Issues Survey

The 114th Congress beginning on January 6, 2015 presents a fresh opportunity for members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to work together on advancing various bills of importance.  I encourage you and your loved ones to use last week’s column or visit http://morgangriffith.house.gov/2015issuessurvey/ and complete my 2015 Congressional Issues Survey to share with me your opinions on just some of the issues that may be considered.  If you would like to submit further feedback, please do so at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

With additional comments or to request a printed copy of the survey, you may also contact one of our offices in Abingdon, Christiansburg, or Washington, D.C.  In addition to these bricks and mortar offices, my staff and I travel regularly throughout the Ninth District to participate in meetings, attend events, and hold traveling staff hours.  The traveling staff office hours schedule can be found on my website.  If you are physically unable to come to our traveling office hours or to one of our bricks and mortar offices, arrangements can be made for other ways to communicate with us and make sure your concerns are heard.

My team and I view constituent services as a top priority, and we work hard to serve you.  As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact us.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. "