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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

House Republicans Break the Record, Making this Session of Congress the Most Closed in History

November 7, 2017
Press Release
Closed and structured rules have blocked more than 1300 amendments so far this year on everything from protecting DACA recipients to debating our military’s role abroad

WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (NY-25) issued the following statement after House Republican leaders broke the record for closed rules, making this session of the 115th Congress the most closed session in history. There have now been 49 closed rules this year, which block all amendments. Republican leaders have used restrictive rules to block more than 1300 amendments so far this year, including measures prohibiting funds for the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force, protecting DACA recipients, restricting funding for President Trump’s border wall, strengthening maternity leave, and fighting climate change. These important policies deserve a debate on the House Floor, yet these issues are completely blocked from even being considered. Under Speaker Ryan’s leadership, there hasn’t been a single truly open rule, which would allow any Member to offer an amendment on the House Floor that complies with the standing rules of the House and the Budget Act. 

“The Republican Majority has now made history for all the wrong reasons. Under Speaker Ryan’s leadership, this session of Congress has now become the most closed Congress in history. More than 1300 amendments have been blocked this year, including measures to protect DACA recipients, consider our military’s role abroad, and address climate change. Members are regularly prevented from doing their job representing their constituents and amending legislation, and bills routinely come before the Rules Committee that often haven’t even been considered by the relevant committees. I’ve always said that a bad process leads to a bad product. Under the Republican Majority’ this Congress has advanced truly harmful legislation that has made this Congress under their leadership the most unpopular Congress in memory,” said Ranking Member Slaughter. 

With the issuance of their 49th closed rule of the year, House Republicans have broken the prior record set during the first session of the 114th Congress. While enacting closed rules that prevent members from offering amendments on the House Floor, Republican leaders have failed to enact any truly open rules that would allow for such debate.

In his first speech after becoming speaker of the House, Speaker Ryan said, “When we do not follow regular order, when we rush to pass bills that a lot of us don’t understand, we are not doing our job...Only a fully-functioning House can really, truly do the people’s business…If there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time.” But despite his promises, there has never been a truly open rule under his leadership, with legislation often coming before the Rules Committee without any committee action.

The more than 1300 amendments blocked by closed and structured rules this session include the following issues:

1.     Prohibiting Sending U.S. Troops to Syria

2.     Prohibiting Funds for the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force

3.     Protecting DACA Recipients

4.     Protecting Asylum Seekers and Human Trafficking Victims

5.     Protecting Whistleblower Privacy Rights

6.     Reducing Government Spending

7.     Restricting Funding for President Trump’s Border Wall

8.     Funding for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prevention

9.     Preventing Trump Businesses from Receiving Federal Contracts and Grants

10.   Funding for the Fetal, Infant, and Child Death Review Program

11.   Funding for a WIC Breastfeeding Program

12.   Condemning Boko Haram and Establishing a Missing Persons Database

13.   Net Neutrality

14.   Equal Employment

15.   Confederate Memorials

16.   Troop Levels in Afghanistan

17.   Maternity Leave

18.   Climate Change

19.   Military Spending

20.   Executive Branch Ethics