Washington, D.C. – Following reports that a group of freshmen Democrats plan to send a letter to Rules Chairman Jim McGovern requesting removal of or revision to the minority’s right to the Motion to Recommit (MTR), Rules Ranking Republican Tom Cole addressed the historical significance of the procedural tool during yesterday’s committee hearing.
Excerpts from Cole’s remarks are below:
“The MTR has existed since the first Congress and has been a guaranteed right of the opposition since 1909. Its use has already been restricted once by a Democratic Speaker when House Rules were changed to prevent Republicans from actually sending bills back to committee. This restriction surfaced because Republicans were successful in passing MTRs during the 110th Congress. So in 2009, the Rules were revised to report the measure back ‘forthwith’ or immediately. Speaker Pelosi was quoted back then saying: ‘When you can’t win on policy, you always turn to process.’”
“Here we are just two months into the new Democratic majority, which was touted to be about open debate – with an issue about process. Make no mistake, Democrats are bothered by the fact that Republicans have successfully included good policy into two bills. Now they want to change the Rules again. Put simply, it is an affront to this institution, and I would hope my good friend [Mr. McGovern] would be the voice of reason and ensure we leave the MTR alone.”
“As a majoritarian institution, you do have control over many things, but that doesn’t mean that minority voices – including those in your own party – are completely stifled. It is not how the House was set up and not the way the MTR has worked for 110 years. It may be inconvenient for these new members, but rather than draft letters, perhaps they should brush up on the precedents of the House. I know my friend Mr. McGovern is a reasonable voice in this debate, and I hope that he is able to convince his leaders that the institution suffers if the ideas of the minority are restricted even further.”
Full clip is available here.
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