December 15, 2020
From The Problem Solvers:
The Problem Solvers Caucus has officially endorsed two proposed changes to the rules of the U.S. House spearheaded by Congressman Van Taylor (TX-03) to make the House of Representatives a more effective and Member-driven legislative body. In backing this House rules reform proposal, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23), have come together to again support commonsense changes that break the gridlock and help make Congress more effective in passing new legislation.
To increase collaboration between the House and Senate Chamber, the ‘290 Consensus Calendar for Senate Bills’ rule would enable House members to formally support Senate measures with a cosponsorship tracked by the House Clerk and posted on Congress.gov. In doing so, this reform would enable Senate-passed measures to be expedited in the House by being placed on the House Consensus Calendar upon reaching 290 House cosponsors. The text of the ‘290 Consensus Calendar for Senate Bills’ rule can be found here.
Focused on empowering individual Members of Congress to advance their legislation, the ‘Four-Fifths Committee, Two-Thirds Floor’ proposal would require Committee Chairs to schedule a markup within 40 legislative days of a measure in their jurisdiction achieving the cosponsorship of 4/5 of the members on their committee. Under this proposal, Committee Chairs of committees of non-primary referral could discharge such measure in lieu of a markup. Furthermore, upon favorable markup or discharge in all committees of referral, the bill would be expedited to the House floor within 60 days for consideration under suspension of the rules, requiring a 2/3 vote. The text of the ‘Four-Fifths Committee, Two-Thirds Floor’ rule can be found here.
A summary of both reform proposals can be found here.
Since the 1980s, dysfunction in Congress has steadily worsened. During the 100th Congress (1987 -1988), nearly eight percent of all bills and joint resolutions introduced in either chamber were ultimately signed into law. When compared to a success rate of just 1.4% during the 116th Congress (2019 – 2020), the increased dysfunction is evident and demands action from Congress to correct course.
“Since we first formed the Problem Solvers, we’ve focused on breaking the gridlock and making Washington a place that prioritizes the needs of the American people. These common-sense reforms would build on our progress by incentivizing bipartisanship, improving how Congress functions, and restoring member’s ability to push real solutions to the House floor,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Tom Reed. “Speaker Pelosi should include all of these critical changes in the 117th congressional rules package.”
“These changes to the House rules will help move broadly-supported, bipartisan legislation to the House floor for a debate and vote. It’s time to make getting things done easier, and to stand up to the same old obstructionism. To solve problems, we have to work together to actually govern and to deliver legislation that can get signed into law — from lowering heath care costs, to fixing our infrastructure, to helping our nation through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer.
Rep. Van Taylor said, “For decades, the ability of leaders in Washington to work together in a productive manner has diminished. Inspired by the success of state legislatures across the country, these two rule reform proposals will create a culture shift in Congress, empowering individual Members to advance consensus legislation forward while increasing cooperation between Members from both Chambers and across the aisle.”
“This Congress we saw numerous bipartisan bills reach the House floor thanks to the 290 Consensus Calendar, which was introduced in the most recent rules package. By instituting the same rule for Senate-passed bills, we can expect more good bills passing our chamber,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “I am pleased to see the four-fifths committee, two-thirds floor rule be included in the Problem Solver’s Rules Change 2.0 Proposal, which will give more power to the rank-and-file committee members. These proposals will give more members a say in the daily operations of the House, and I hope they are adopted in the 117th Congress.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprising 50 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).