March 23, 2019

Speaker Ocasio-Cortez

“Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., floated the idea of dramatically changing the way the House works. Having lost two recent votes known as “motions to recommit” — minor votes, but stinging for any House leader — she basically wants to prevent the House minority from its traditional right to force votes to change legislation before it passes.

This is a terrible, cynical idea which, had it been in place for the last 25 years, would have silenced House Democrats almost the entire time. But more importantly, it’s an idea that Pelosi is only considering because it’s easier than actually asserting control of her own party in Congress — which, if you haven’t noticed, she has nearly lost to a politically artless but media-savvy House freshman after less than two months.

The rules of the U.S. House, unlike those of the Senate, give the minority party few rights. It cannot stop or even meaningfully delay legislation on which the majority party is intent. But one thing the minority has always been able to do is force a couple of protest votes at the end of the process that put the majority on the spot. On the rare occasions where these motions to recommit succeed, they send bills back to committee for specific changes.”

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