House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 3. | AP Photo
House Republican leadership has quietly launched a 10-month process aimed at overhauling both their party and the institution’s rules, following through on Speaker Paul Ryan’s campaign promise to change the way the chamber operates.
The effort is focused on all aspects of how Congress works, with meetings and hearings on issues ranging from “restoring balance to the authorization and appropriations process” to targeted sessions on the “process for removing elected leaders.” The collaborative structure is clearly designed to give the entire conference buy-in to the process.
Story Continued Below
It’s a significant development, with potentially wide-ranging impact. Nearly every lawmaker has a gripe about how the institution works. And senior Republicans believe that the vast majority of GOP lawmakers want to make it more difficult to remove a speaker.
When he was running for the speakership, Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed serious reservations with the current process by which a member could take out a sitting speaker — a tactic called the Motion to Vacate. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) filed such a motion last July, which was the beginning of the end for John Boehner. Ryan initially planned to consider a change to the motion to vacate before being sworn in as speaker, but reversed course after pressure from the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Ryan has said he is flexible on how the process is changed, but he wants to see reform.
The potential changes to the House Republican Conference rules will be debated in member-only “Organizational Task Force” meetings, and, in addition, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions’ Rules Committee will hold hearings on changes to the institution’s rules.
The process will begin March 15, with a closed meeting on “conference agenda setting/dispute resolution” and a public hearing on “improving legislative transparency.”
In April, the House Rules Committee will hold an open hearing on “restoring balance to the authorization and appropriations process.” In May, the GOP will hold a closed meeting on the “process for removing elected leaders.” In September, it will consider changes to the party rules.
In November, Republican lawmakers will consider changes to the party rules. In December, they’ll release “recommended major changes to the House Rules.” And in January, both will get a vote.