Ryan, House leaders alter rules on amendments to spending bills

Exploring a more efficacious strategy to avert the menace of congressional backlog, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced Wednesday the House has adopted new rules to curb disputed amendments attached to spending bills.

According to the new rule, proposed amendments to spending bills now require consent of the House Rules Committee before deliberation on the House floor.

The new House rule affects spending bills alone.

Ryan unveiled the new rule during a GOP conference meeting in which participants later revealed Ryan’s justification for the change was to frustrate “Democrats’ poison pills.'”

A “poison pill” is House jargon for a rider attached to bills under consideration.  Often added to slow pending legislation, it is frequently described as typical congressional maneuvering by opponents to delay a bill’s passage.

Citing the inefficient mess created by the addition of a LGBT amendment to an energy and water bill in May which hindered passage of the bill, Ryan says the rule will create a more efficient legislative process.

The rule, however, does have its critics, and on both sides of the aisle.  Some Republicans say the new procedure will move away from the “open-rule” policy which has characterized the House under GOP leadership and signal a return to the “closed-rule” style of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“Our leadership is using this as an excuse to close down the process.  Ostensibly, it would protect Republicans from Democrats. What they could try to do is protect all Republicans from taking difficult votes, which may be conservative issues,” said Thomas Massie (R-KY).

Accusing Ryan of an “about face,” Democratic Reps. Sean Maloney (NY) and Steny Hoyer (MD) wrote an editorial piece which appeared in the Washington Post declaring:

“Republican leaders now might bend the rules in order to advance discrimination.”

Still, some GOP House members appeared to reluctantly support Ryan’s new rule.  Citing former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s management of the House and Democratic intransigence, Tom Cole (R-OK) stated: “Democrats did the same thing, and frankly, sort of drove us to doing this.  I think the Speaker’s been patient, I think the majority’s been patient. I think they’ve said, well, we’ve had enough so we’ll go to a structured rule.” 


[The Hill] [Washington Post]