Jan. 2, 2013
The rules package that will be called up Thursday on the floor from the Republican Conference will follow the traditions of the past 102 years of being debated for just one hour, with no amendments unless the minority succeeds in committing the resolution to a select committee with instructions to immediately report back specific amendments. It is little wonder this near-pro forma party exercise attracts little public or member attention. It is just another in a series of party-line votes cast on opening day along with that of electing a speaker.
The House has learned over the years how to organize itself early and efficiently. Lost in transition has been the experience previously gained from engaging the entire House membership in debating the rules that will guide it for the next two years. If one wonders why there are fewer institutionalists in Congress today, this is a good place to start.
Don Wolfensberger is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.
Read the full op-ed here