Why Is the House Rules Committee Referred to as the Traffic Cop

Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives and the Senate jointly enact and pass federal laws, introduce bills and resolutions, propose amendments, and serve on committees that allow members to develop expertise on matters within the committee`s jurisdiction. Although both make up Congress, there are some differences between the two. In particular, the Constitution “provides that only the House of Representatives may prepare revenue accounts” and traditionally grants laws. An examination of the plenary debate on the general revision of 1880 shows that little attention was paid to the collection of rules as a standing committee. Perhaps because the Special Rules Committee was composed of experienced and respected leaders of the House of Representatives, its recommendation “that the Standing Orders become a standing committee generated little discussion.” As the size and workload increased, it became clear that more order and predictability was needed to manage the affairs of the house. In 1811, the Rules Committee reported on a revision of the Standing Orders which, for the first time, established a formal agenda for the House. Under its conditions, the sequence of events was as follows: opening prayer, reading the newspaper, calling states and territories for petitions (such as anti-slavery resolutions), unfinished business, and daily orders. These were reports from standing committees or selected committees that were assigned a later day for consideration by the House of Representatives. After passing this particular order, wrote DeAlva Stanwood Alexander, the Rules Committee began to “fill the public.” (58) The increased visibility of the Committee was probably due to the appointment by the President in 1883 of the Chairman of two powerful committees (Ways and Means) rather than to the procedural innovation of the Council. The composition of the Rules of Procedure thus consolidated in committee the influence of the speaker on the prosecutor`s office, the stock exchanges and the revenue. A few weeks later, the House of Representatives emphasized the rule`s power to issue reports at any time and propose discreet changes to House rules. When Rules of Procedure Chair Calhoun presented a report recommending further amendments to House Rule 127 that would allow Committee of the Whole bills to be defeated by a majority vote (instead of two-thirds) of the House, Representative William Medill of Ohio questioned the right of the Rules Committee to “report partially.” Under the guise of changing House rules, Medill argued, the committee actually recommended procedures to stifle the minority party`s right to debate.

“A committee that claims to be eternal in its duration and that has decided to always be well,” he said, “suffers to divert attention from the deliberations of this body and threatens to seal the mouth of the minority if it shows the slightest tenacity or independence.” (20) Speaker White decided that the committee`s report could be considered by the House of Representatives. Medill appealed the president`s decision, but the House voted in his favor. “In addition to these urgent necessities [income and benefit laws] that cannot be denied,” spokesman Reed said, “there are others that should not be denied.” (36) For some time, the dilemma has been to put on the table in a timely manner draft laws `should` (non-privileged public interest legislation). Here, the Rules Committee, led by the speaker, exercised its creative procedural skills by drafting special arrangements or rules. In teaching the initiating legislative process, special attention is rightly given to the House Rules Committee, given its disproportionate role in determining political considerations for the House. The committee has been given a few nicknames that speak of its main authorities: it is often referred to as the “president`s arm” because the president appoints the members of the majority committee, and because its weighted composition favors the majority party – 9 majority members for 4 minorities. The committee is also colloquially referred to as the “traffic policeman” of the House because it has the power to plan and the power over how bills are handled on the ground. If a bill is the subject of a report by another committee with legislative authority, it is included in the appropriate House schedule for debate.

However, it is common practice that bills reported to committees are dealt with by the Rules Committee, which decides how long and according to what rules the whole body will discuss the proposal. Most bills are dealt with under a procedure known as suspension of the Standing Orders, “which limits debate to 40 minutes and does not allow amendments to be tabled by Members in plenary.” Otherwise, the invoice is considered under conditions adapted to the respective invoice.