Much of the most important work of Congress occurs in Committees. It is in Committees where legislation is first drafted, debated, and voted on. Committees usually function under an open amendment process, allowing representatives to offer amendments without having to go through the rules committee. Despite the importance of Committee votes, Committees will often pass major legislation by voice vote, denying the people the ability to hold Representatives accountable for votes in Committee, as well as on the House floor. This is why Campaign for Liberty has joined a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions requesting a change in House rules to request roll-call votes on all pieces of legislation authorizing or appropriating more than $100 million. While this proposal was not part of the rules package adopted by House Republicans last week, hopefully it will be added to the House Rules when the full house votes on the rules package in January. Campaign for Liberty members who want to hold there Representatives accountable for the votes in Committee should call their Representatives and request they support adding a provision requiring roll-votes on any legislation authorizing or appropriating more than $100 million dollars. Here’s the letter to Speaker Ryan and Rules Committee Chair Sessions:
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Washington DC 20515
The Honorable Pete Sessions
Committee on Rules
United States House of Representatives
H-312 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
September 14, 2016
Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Sessions,
As the House considers rules changes for the 115th Congress, we encourage you to consider a proposal to require committees to have recorded votes on legislation that would authorize or appropriate $100 million or more.
This rule change would help bring increased transparency to the work of the House, additional accountability to committees, and would mirror the spirit of H.R.427, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act) of 2015 which passed the House overwhelmingly last year.
Under current practice, committees can commit a massive amount of taxpayer money to programs while evading a recorded vote. For example, this year the House Appropriations Committee passed nine of the committee’s 12 spending bills by voice vote. With no recorded roll call votes, the committee proposed that the House appropriate over $850 billion
. All members of the House will be better informed about bills if committee members are on the record with recorded votes. This will help demonstrate the true level of support on committees for legislation. It is also a basic function of members to cast recorded votes to make their positions clear.
Finally, recorded votes will help constituents better understand their representative’s position on legislation. Recorded votes at committee level will result in better informed constituents which will in turn benefit our constitutional republic.
This proposed addition to the House rules follows the template found in the REINS Act. The REINS Act requires an affirmative congressional vote to approve a major regulation or rule of $100 million or more. If the House must approve $100 million or more in regulatory costs, in order to be fiscally constant, the House must require the same discipline from itself that it rightfully seeks to exert over the executive branch.
We encourage you and your colleagues to consider this proposed change to the House rules. It will help make the House, its committees, and its members more informed and accountable.
Campaign for Liberty T
Taxpayer Protection Alliance
Taxpayers for Common Sense
National Taxpayers Union