Keeping Our Pledge to America: Changing the Way Congress Works
"These reforms represent Republicans’ first step in keeping the promises we outlined in the Pledge to America to change the way Washington works and address the people’s priorities: creating jobs and cutting spending.” - Speaker-designate John Boehner
In a speech on Congressional reform last fall, Speaker-designate John Boehner argued that Congress “does not function, does not deliberate, and seems incapable of acting on the will of the people.” This is about to change. When the 112th Congress convenes on Wednesday, the new Republican majority will begin keeping its Pledge to America and adopting new rules that change the way Congress works by:
- Posting all bills online for public viewing at least three days before a vote: The days of quickly ramming massive bills through Congress - such as the “stimulus” that didn’t work and the job-killing national energy tax - are over. Under the new rules, the House will post all bills online at least three calendar days before a vote, giving lawmakers, the public, and the media a chance to read each proposal and understand its impact. The Sunlight Foundation called the new rule “a huge victory for the ReadtheBill movement, and for transparency in the way the House considers legislation.”
- Making it easier to cut spending -- and harder to increase spending: The new rules will reflect a new culture of fiscal discipline in Congress; no longer will the system be rigged in favor of ever-more (and sometimes automatic) spending hikes. Republicans are implementing a cut-as-you-go (“cut-go”) rule that says any new mandatory spending must be offset with spending cuts - not tax hikes. They will require legislation to show a long-term budget impact - four decades beyond current rules - to prevent lawmakers from using accounting gimmicks and sleight of hand to hide the true cost of big government proposals. And more.
- Requiring lawmakers to cite the Constitutional authority for any piece of legislation: The Constitution will get a “starring role” in the new Republican-led Congress, says the Washington Post. The fact that this is noteworthy proves just how dysfunctional the House of Representatives has become. Legislators will now be required to outline, in the text of a bill, where in the Constitution the federal government is delegated the authority to carry out a given law. As Boehner said last fall, “If we cannot do this much – we should put down the pen and stop right there.”
- And that’s only the beginning: The new rules also call for webcasting committee hearings, twice-annual reports to ensure committees are engaged in proper legislative and oversight activities, posting committee votes online within 48 hours, and more. Here is a complete rundown on the proposed rules. And see page 33 of the Pledge to America where these reforms were outlined.
Taken together, a Fox News report says the new rules represent “a ‘sea change’ in the way the House operates -- with greater openness, deliberation, efficiency and a closer adherence to the U.S. Constitution.”
So what does all this mean for American families and small businesses? In short: to help our economy we need to fix Congress itself.
A broken Congress that passes poorly-considered legislation - like the job-killing ObamaCare law - only causes more uncertainty for job creators and adds more debt onto the backs of our kids and grandkids. A Congress that is more open, transparent, and deliberative - where bills are written in public view by committees, not behind closed doors in the Speaker’s office - will become what Boehner calls an “outpost in Washington for the American people and their desire for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government.”
Check out Boehner’s full speech on Congressional reform below and stay tuned for more as Republicans work to keep their Pledge to America: