Navigating the Rules of “The People’s House”


Navigating the Rules of “The People’s House”

January 26, 2024

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This piece originally appeared on the Federalist Society blog.

Despite its obscurity, the House rules package is essential to the operations of the House of Representatives. During the fight that led to former Speaker McCarthy’s ouster, prominent debates over Ukraine funding, border security, and budget cuts were underlain by procedural tactics made possible by the House rules and changes made at the start of the 118th Congress. But understanding these rules is extremely difficult, both because of their inherent complexity, and because the rules package changes every two years at the start of each new Congress. In fact, the return of the motion to vacate the chair, the very process that ousted McCarthy, was one of these changes, instituted after hardliners demanded it from him as a concession for their votes.

These periodic changes, combined with major turnover in congressional staff, make it difficult to build a lasting understanding of how the rules work, how the House operated in the past, and how it should operate in the future. Few Americans beyond House leadership and the Rules Committee staff understand it. Addressing this opacity and boosting Congress’s institutional strength will require giving members and their staff, and interested parties in civil society, new tools to help them understand “The People’s House.”

Continue reading at the Federalist Society blog.

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