Pelosi mulls House rules change to thwart GOP amendments – Washington Examiner
Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated Thursday that Democrats could change House rules in a way that would make it harder for Republicans to make last-minute tweaks to legislation, a move that the GOP warned would amount to a suppression of their rights as the minority party.
Pelosi, D-Calif., said a bipartisan panel reviewing how the House operates may also examine a floor procedure known as the “motion to recommit.” The MTR, as it is known, effectively gives the minority party a chance to amend legislation just before it’s about to be passed.
Normally, those amendments are easily blocked by the majority. But Republicans have scored two victories so far with MTR measures by luring in Democrats from swing districts, and Democratic leaders aren’t happy about it.
On Wednesday, for example, Republicans managed to amend a gun control bill with a provision requiring illegal immigrants who attempt to purchase guns to be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The measure passed with the help of more than two dozen Democrats, many from districts that back President Trump.
Voting with the minority on an MTR is considered a slap at leadership because it surrenders the leverage of the majority to the minority on the House floor.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday she is “a big believer … in the rights of the minority to have their say.” But she would not rule out a change to the MTR process at some point in the future.
She said a select committee assembled to look at ways to modernize the House could examine changes to the MTR. “I think that’s an appropriate place for some of that discussion to take place,” Pelosi said.
Specifically, Democrats are looking at a change that would require Republicans to provide Democrats with the language of their amendment ahead of time so they can have an opportunity to convince fellow Democrats to vote against it.
While Democratic leaders are deciding what to do, Pelosi said Democrats in the meantime should stop voting for the Republican motions.
“Put me in a different category,” Pelosi said, when asked if she favored stopping the GOP from offering the last-minute amendment. “I think you should just vote against all MTRs.”
It’s not the first time Democrats have considered a change to block the GOP’s use of the process.
In 2007, the then-Republican minority vexed Democratic leaders by winning a third of all MTR’s offered on the House floor. In one instance, Republicans offered an amendment to a D.C. voting rights bill that would have repealed the District’s ban on gun ownership. Democrats ended up pulling the bill from the floor because dozens of Democrats would have backed the GOP’s gun provision.
While Democrats considered eliminating the MTR at that time, they never carried out the threat.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., warned that Democrats would be employing a “nuclear option” if they change a century-old rule that allows the minority to try to amend legislation before a vote on passage.
“Democrats want to rig the rules and suppress the minority party’s speech on the House floor,” said McCarthy, who is the minority leader.
McCarthy said if Democrats make changes now it would be akin to the drastic change Democrats made in the Senate that stripped the minority of its right to block nominees.
The motion to recommit has existed in its current form since 1909. McCarthy noted that the GOP never attempted to alter it during its time in the majority over more than two decades.
“Changes to the motion to recommit would be a nuclear option and would leave a stain on this majority just two months in,” McCarthy said.