I am going to explore the effectiveness of the open rule Republican House leadership instituted during the 112th Congress. The open rule essentially allows any member of Congress, regardless of party affiliation or committee assignments, to propose amendments to bills on the House floor. The intention of House leadership was to make this Congress more open than previous Congresses have been. I felt it would be interesting to explore the pros and cons of operating under this rule, as well as how the members themselves feel about it.
My inspiration for this topic arose from a discussion I was having with my father regarding the use of the open rule. He currently serves in the House of Representatives, and explained to me how some of his colleagues had bills amended in this manner. This is significant because members are able to propose amendments to legislation that they would not have otherwise had a say on, assuming the bill came from a committee they do not serve on.
The House of Representatives has not operated under an open rule since the 1980’s, which will hopefully make this topic particularly intriguing. It will be interesting to explore the benefits and drawbacks of operating under this system. Clearly, the first implication is that this rule diminishes the power of committees to a degree, and this is something I hope to discuss with a few members.
I plan on exploring the origins of the open rule, as well as any significant amendments in legislation that have occurred as a result of its use. I also plan on looking into why there was such a significant gap between Congresses that have operated under the rule. This is a fairly significant procedural rule in the House, so hopefully some of my peers will find interest in its use as well.