Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. Condemns House Republicans’ Refusal to Allow Votes on Major Issues as the 115th Congress Becomes the Most Closed Congress in History

May 22, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. — Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. condemned House Republicans’ restrictive process as they break their own closed rule record, making the 115th Congress the most closed Congress in American history. There have now been 84 closed rules this Congress, which block all amendments from both Democratic and Republican Members. A new report from Rules Committee Democrats highlights how Republican leaders have used restrictive rules to block measures to create jobs, bring down the cost of prescription drugs, and make education more affordable. These important policies deserve a debate on the House Floor, yet they are routinely blocked from even being considered.

“Through their restrictive process, Republican leaders have practically closed this House for business. We can’t even get votes on many of the matters that have brought Americans marching into the streets in record numbers. Proposals from Democrats and Republicans alike to create jobs, make prescription drugs more affordable, and bring down the cost of education are routinely blocked from even getting a vote. It’s no wonder so many Americans disapprove of this Congress under the Republicans. We need a more inclusive and accommodating legislative process that actually addresses the American people’s priorities,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.

With the issuance of their 84th closed rule this Congress, House Republicans have broken the prior record, which they set during the first session of the 114th Congress. This Congress alone, the Republican Majority has blocked amendments from more than 380 Members of Congress. These blocked amendments represent significant policy proposals from Members that collectively represent more than 270 million Americans.

At the same time, Speaker Ryan is the only Speaker is history to never have a 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.

This inauspicious record not only suppresses the voices of millions of Americans, it also stands in stark contrast to the Speaker’s own promise of returning to regular order. Shortly after getting the gavel, he said, “I wanted to have a process that is more open, more inclusive, more deliberative, more participatory – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Among the amendments Republican leaders have blocked include measures from Democrats and Republicans that would prevent the shipping of jobs overseas, help disabled veterans, promote small business disaster recovery, ensure health benefits for children, improve maternity care, ban bump stocks, protect students, allow common-sense gun safety research, decide whether to send troops to war, preserve clean air and water, ensure Presidential ethics, defend our national security, promote community policing, and advance forensic science.

“The American people expect this House to do its job and tackle the issues they care most about. But under Republican leadership, this House barely debates at all. This closed process is why the public is so fed up with this Congress,” said Rep. Payne, Jr.