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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The End of Open Rules in the House

 At The Hill, Donald Wolfensberger notes that the House no longer operates under open floor rules:

I have recounted the evolution of the House and its Rules Committee in two books written since leaving the Hill: “Congress and the People: Deliberative Democracy on Trial” (2000), and, “Changing Cultures in Congress: From Fair Play to Power Plays” (2018).

To summarize my findings from both books: The House has become much more partisan and more closed to broad member participation in the legislative process. This has two destructive consequences: (1) members are feeling increasingly marginalized and irrelevant due to rote party-voting pressures in committee and on the floor; and (2) their constituents are turned-off by all the partisan bickering and gridlock. Taken together, this is a major democratic disconnect.

In the appendices to my two books, I include Rules Committee tables that span several decades in support of my findings. Those tables are now updated to include the first session of the 117th Congress (2021). My tabulations are published every six months on the website of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) found here.