As prepared for delivery during today's hearing:
I want to begin by applauding the Rules Committee for coming together during last week’s hearing on our Article I authority. I thought the discussion was not only substantive and productive, but it demonstrated what we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and work together.
After the bipartisan strides taken last week, it is very disappointing that the majority is back to deploying deeply partisan tactics this week that deny the minority its rights on the floor.
Let’s look at what exactly is happening this week.
Rather than bringing up the underlying judiciary bills on their own to stand before the House on the merits, the majority is instead using the gimmick of further amending a Senate-amended bill to package these items together. This has the effect of removing the minority’s right to offer a motion to recommit on the bill before final passage, since under House rules the minority is not allowed to offer an MTR on any House measures that have been amended by the Senate.
Mr. Chairman, you know as well as I do that the motion to recommit is the minority’s traditional right that has been part of House rules since the very beginning of the chamber. But Democrats have been all too willing to limit this tool to silence minority voices, both Republican and Democrat – something Republicans in the majority NEVER did. We recognized the importance of the right to the chamber.
This is now the second time in six weeks that the majority is explicitly adopting a procedure to deny the minority its traditional rights. I think that if the majority is really so scared of the motion to recommit and they really want do away with it, then that change to the standing rules of the House needs to happen in the open, on the House floor, so that everyone can see how this majority operates. Their sly tactics today certainly accomplish their goal for the underlying legislation, but it does so in an underhanded way – and it is unacceptable.
There’s an easy solution to losing motions to recommit – write better legislation. Legislation that includes both parties, and more views – instead of undertaking legislative gymnastics to silence the minority.
I understand that my Democratic colleagues are frustrated that Republican policies are getting enacted. But we are simply putting forth alternative ideas consistent with the Rules of the House. Ideas that a majority of the House agrees is the right policy.
Instead of trying to convince your members that you’re right – you are going to just rig the entire system to shut up not only us – but them. We all know why - you cannot effectively defend your policies against competing ideas.
And let’s be clear on why this is happening now. Because we won another Motion to Recommit last week – our 6th this Congress. It is happening because we committed the great sin of passing an amendment that would prevent sex offenders and terrorists from being employed by the TSA. That’s really the policy that is causing you to strip our rights away?
My friends on the other side and I disagree on a great many things. I cannot imagine how our amendment last week could be one of them.
To now have the very same members that joined with us last week to propose ways to protect this institution now be the members that are aiding in its destruction is shocking. It is beyond disappointing. I implore the Chairman to reverse course and to continue defending the House of Representatives and the rights afforded to its members.