Despite Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) 2015 vow to end the “top-down” approach of his predecessor John Boehner, the House Rules Committee just set a record for the most closed rules in a session, blocking lawmakers from adding amendments on a bill for the 49th time.
Some Republicans along with House Democrats are criticizing Ryan for not allowing members to propose changes on the floor for a single bill by governance of the open rule.
“The Republican Majority has now made history for all the wrong reasons,” Democrat Louise Slaughter of the House Rules Committee said on Tuesday. “Under Speaker Ryan’s leadership, this session of Congress has now become the most closed Congress in history.”
In 2015, Ryan said, “We’re not going to bottle up the process so much and predetermine the outcome of everything around here.” The incoming speaker also said that Congressional debates would be “more open, more inclusive, more deliberative, more participatory.”
Today, though Ryan still claims the House has an “open process,” more than 1,300 amendments have been blocked from debate.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) one of the most vocal libertarian-leaning Republicans in the House, says that Ryan has failed to live up to his promise.
“When we offer amendments, they have to be approved by leadership before we get a vote on them and that’s not how our system is supposed to work,” Amash told Politico. “Our system was designed to reflect the will of the people… And the speaker’s job is to ensure the system is open and [lawmakers] are given a fair opportunity to present their amendments.”
Some Republicans and Democrats argue that this method “stifles debate” and is bad for democracy.
Amash continues to push for open debates on proposed amendments.
“We’re supposed to have a speaker who keeps the House open and reflecting the will of the people… There’s a lot of protection happening right now, where leaders are trying to shield their members from votes,” Amash said.