The Constitution frequently gets lip service in Congress, but House Republicans next year will make sure it gets a lot more than that – the new rules the incoming majority party proposed this week call for a full reading of the country’s founding document on the floor of the House on Jan. 6.
The goal, backers said, is to underscore the limited-government rules the Founders imposed on Congress – and to try to bring some of those principles back into everyday legislating.
“It stems from the debate that we’ve had for the last two years about things like the exercise of authority in a whole host of different areas by the EPA, we’ve had this debate in relation to the health care bill, the cap-and-trade legislation,” said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, who proposed the reading. “This Congress has been very aggressive in expanding the power of the federal government, and there’s been a big backlash to that.”
Setting aside time at the beginning of the congressional session for the reading is just one of the changes to House rules that Republicans say are designed to open up the legislative process. They say the new rules also will try to bring some restraints to lawmaking after decades in which both Republican and Democratic leaders whittled away opportunities for real legislative give-and-take.
The biggest changes would make it easier to cut spending and harder to create entitlement programs, while imposing restrictions that could keep leaders from jamming massive bills onto the House floor before lawmakers have had a chance to digest them.