Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Works Cited

Works Cited
Sinclair, Barbara. (2007). Unorthodox lawmaking: new legislative processes in the U.S., Los Angeles: CQ Press.
Oleszek, Walter J. (2007). Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. Washington D.C.: CQ .
Steven S. Smith, Jason M. Roberts, Ryan J. Vander Wielen The American Congress, 6th Ed.,Cambridge, 2009
Wolfensberger, Donald R. (1995). What is a Special rule. Retrieved from
Charimen Louise M. Slaughter’s homepage:
Chairmen David Dreier homepage:


Members, 111th Congress
• Louise McIntosh Slaughter, New York, Chairwoman
• James McGovern, Massachusetts
• Alcee Hastings, Florida
• Doris Matsui, California
• Dennis Cardoza, California
• Michael Arcuri, New York
• Ed Perlmutter, Colorado
• Chellie Pingree, Maine
• Jared Polis, Colorado
• David Dreier, California, Ranking Member
• Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida
• Pete Sessions, Texas
• Virginia Foxx, North Carolina
Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter is one of the most powerful women in the U.S. House of Representatives; Congresswoman Louise McIntosh Slaughter has achieved a significant level of leadership as the Chairwoman of the influential House Committee on Rules, making her the first woman in history to hold this position. A member of the House Democratic Leadership, she serves on the prestigious Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. She is the Democratic Chair of two very prominent congressional caucuses: the Congressional Arts Caucus and the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.
In November 2008, Rep. Slaughter was elected to her twelfth term in Congress as U.S. Representative for the 28th Congressional District of New York State. Her diverse district includes the cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Her constituents know her to be a strong proponent of progressive causes and a fighter for the employment concerns and the economic development of Western New York. She has earned a reputation for her dedication to constituent service.
David Dreier was first elected to Congress in 1980 on a platform of free markets, limited government, strong national defense, and personal freedom. Throughout his service in the House of Representatives, Dreier has remained true to these principles as he has worked to secure the border, keep taxes low, and promote democracy abroad. He has also been a stalwart supporter for a more cost-effective and accountable government.
David Dreier holds numerous positions of influence in the House. He became a member of the House Leadership when he took the helm of the powerful House Committee on Rules in January 1999. As the youngest Rules Chairman and the first from California, Dreier played a pivotal role in fashioning all legislation for debate in the House. He continues to serve on the Rules Committee as the Ranking Republican Member and in the Republican Leadership and as a voice for reform and oversight in Congress. In May 2001, Dreier was unanimously selected by his California colleagues to chair the state’s Republican Congressional Delegation, a position he continues to hold. As Chairman, he leads California’s House Republicans on critical statewide issues.

Floor Discussion

Floor Debate Over Rules
Floor consideration of a bill begins with debate on the rue by the Rules Committee. One hour is allotted, half controlled by the majority member of the Rules and half by a minority member. The majority member explains and justifies the rule, the minority member gives his of her party’s position, and then both yield time to those who wish to speak (Oleszek). The House must approve the rule before consideration of the legislation can begin . “The Rules Committee member managing the debate on the Rule for the majority party will move to the next question. If successful, the motion cuts off debate and the House then proceeds to vote on the rule itself” (Sinclair). If opponents defeat the previous motion, they see control over the floor and may propose the special rule they would like to see.
When a rule is not controversial, the vote may be voice but on the controversial issue it will be done by recording. If the House approves the rule, it usually then resolves itself into the Committee of the Whole, where legislation is debated and amended. The Committee of the Whole is similar to the whole House but only has 100 chairmen compared to the amount needed to pass a rule which is 218 in the regular House. After general debate time has expired what happens next is generally up to the rule. Legislation that that gets passed through the Committee of a whole without a motion to recommit, a second-degree amendment, and after the Committee of the Whole has their amendments approved by the House, legislation at this point generally becomes tough not to pass.

Decision Process and Environment

Decision Process and Environment
Perhaps the greatest change in the House Rules Committee or any committee for that matter over the past years is in the extent to which partisanship now drives process. Most committees used to strive to avoid or at least restrain partisanship; they attempted to reach decisions through a process of bipartisanship (Smith). This was due to the committee’s hopes of greater chances on the floor. As political parties have become more like minded internally and moved farther apart from one another these bipartisanships have begun to quickly dissolve yet the chances for floor success have not. This type of partisanship is evident today in the Rules Committee. Not only does the Speaker of the House control the direction over what legislation is considered under suspension, the Rules Committee Chairmen is always the majority party, and the whole of the Rules Committee is primarily majority party chairmen.
This type of party polarization can be seen not only by the members of the Rules Committee but by how the majority party within the Rules Committee and the majority party all together use the Rules Committee’s power to make special rules. Special Rules can be used to save time and prevent obstruction and delay, to focus attention and debate on critical choices, and sometimes to structure the choices members confront on the floor in a way that promotes a particular outcome (Sinclair). In addition to reducing uncertainty and focusing debate , carefully crafter rules can structure choice to the advantage of a particular outcome which makes rules a political and strategic tool. Majority party members of the Rules Committee vote for such rules only only because expectation of supporting your party on procedural votes but also because the amendments at issue often are ones the members believes to be a bad public policy but politically difficult to vote against (Sinclair). It seems quite evident that the Rules Committee decision process is heavily influenced by party ideology.

Special Rules

Special Rules
Most major legislation is brought to the House floor by a special rule that allows the measure to be taken up out of order. The Rules Committee reports such riles, which take the form of House resolutions. A majority of the House must approve each one. The rule sets the terms for a measure’s floor consideration. A rule always specifies how much time is to be allowed for general debate and who is in control of the time (Sinclair). One to two hours of debate is customary y and the time is always split equally between the chair and the ranking minority member of the committee that reported the legislation. The Rules Committee has an important decision to make when it comes to special rules and that is how and which rules will be allowed. The extent to which a rule restricts amendments and the manner in which it restricts vary.
An open rule allows all germane amendments, whereas a close rules prohibits all amendments other then those offered by the reporting committee. Between the two, the Rules Committee allows open, structured, or modified closed. The Rules Committee defines modified open as, “allows any member to offer a germane amendment under five minute rule subject only to an overall time limit on the amendment process.” Now a modified closed structure is defined by the Committee as, “only those amendments designed by the Rules Committee. When major decision is ready for floor discussion it is up to the Rules Committee to decide how the legislation will be handled. The Rules Committee is officially charged with making the decision, and the leaders of the reporting committee make their preferences known. Because there are so many options on the design of a rule, special rules can increasingly be tailored to the problem at hand. In addition to deciding the amount of floor time to wach side a decision must also be made by the Rules Committee as to which committee’s version will go into the bill.

What The Rules Committee Is

What the Rules Committee is
The Committee on Rules, or more commonly, Rules Committee, is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. Rather than being responsible for a specific area of policy, as most other committees are, it is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor. The Rules Committee is know as the traffic cop of the House of Representatives because virtually every major of legislation must come to the committee before it is considered on the House Floor. As such, it is one of the most powerful committees on the Hill. A rule is a simple resolution of the House of Representatives, usually reported by the Committee on Rules, to permit the immediate consideration of a legislative measure, not withstanding the usual order of business, and to prescribe conditions for its debate and amendment. The authority of the Rules Committee to report special rules can be traced to 1883 (Bach). Prior to that time, bills could not be considered out of their order on the calendars of the House except by unanimous consent or under a suspension of the rules, which required a two-thirds vote. Since special rules reported from the Rules Committee required only a majority vote in the House, the new practice greatly facilitated the ability of the majority leadership to depart from the regular order of business and schedule major legislation according to the majority's priorities (Bach).
When a committee reports a bill, it is placed at the bottom of one of the House Calendars. Considering the order and the amount of bills, this makes little sense for effective policy making. Thus the House developed a way of getting legislation to the floor much faster. The current ways of getting legislation to the floor are through a suspension of the rules and through special rules from the Rules Committee (Sinclair). Noncontroversial legislation is usually under suspension but the motion to suspend rules is in order on Mondays through Wednesdays (Sinclair). Legislation under this procedure are debated for a maximum of forty minutes, no amendments are allowed, and two-thirds vote is required for passage. Legislation that is far more complicated may also be considered under suspension of the rules. This occurs when a bill is so broadly supported that using much floor time is useless (Sinclair). The two-thirds passage requirement also gives the minority party one of its few points of leverage under House rules by using the suspension procedure. The minority can inconvenience the majority by approving bills under the suspension procedure however, the majority can counter the minority’s suspension by a special rule (Sinclair).