Problem Solvers Caucus Endorses House Rule Reforms to Break Partisan Gridlock

December 15, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus as they unveiled their “March to Common Ground” COVID stimulus framework last summer.

Recently, the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed two proposed rule changes to the House of Representatives that would make the legislative body more effective and member-driven. The House rule reform changes were spearheaded by Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, in partnership with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Rep. Tom Reed,R-N.Y., who serve as co-chairs of the Caucus. 

In an effort to increase legislative collaborations between the House and the Senate, one of the proposed House rules, called the ‘290 Consensus Calendar for Senate Bills’ rule, would allow House members to support Senate measures via co-sponsorships. These co-sponsorships would be tracked by the House clerk and posted publicly on Congress.gov

As part of the rule, Congress would be required to reach 290 supporters of the measures passed by the Senate and referred to the House in order for said measures to be placed on the House Consensus Calendar. 

The other proposed House rule, called the ‘Four-Fifths Committee, Two-Thirds Floor’ rule, would be focused more on House members who are looking to advance their legislative agendas. 

According to the rule proposal, House Committee Chairs would be required to schedule a markup within 40 days of a measure reaching 4/5 co-sponsorship on their committee. 

“The committee chairs of committees of referral that are not the primary committee of jurisdiction may waive jurisdiction on such measure in lieu of conducting a markup,” states the text of the proposal. 

After the legislative measure is either marked up or discharged from the referral committee, the bill then is fast tracked to the House floor, thereby suspending the House rules. Once brought to the floor by the speaker of the house, the bill has to be passed within 60 calendar days with a 2/3 vote. 

“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,” stated Gottheimer in a public statement. 

He continued, “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.” 

According to a press release from Congressman Gottheimer’s office, partisan gridlock has prevented Congress from effectively passing legislation over the past four decades. 

“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.” 

“For decades, the ability of leaders in Washington to work together in a productive manner has diminished,” said Taylor. 

“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.” 

“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,” said Reed of the Problem Solvers Caucus. 

Reed continued, “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. 

“Speaker Pelosi should include all of these critical changes in the 117th congressional rules package,” added Reed. 

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