Rules and Committee Practices to foster greater transparency, efficiency, and fiscal discipline
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today set out new rules and practices to guide the Committee in the 112th Congress as it plays a lead role in replacing Obamacare, fortifying the nation’s energy security, rolling back job-destroying regulations, and reducing government spending. The adoption of Committee rules and unveiling of the new “Chairman’s Policies” came during the panel’s official organizing meeting for the 112th Congress, which included the adoption of Subcommittee jurisdictions and the formal appointment of Subcommittee leadership and full member rosters.
“It should come as absolutely no surprise to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the 112th Congress is going to be about change,” said Upton during today’s Committee organizational meeting. “No one seriously thinks we can continue on our current path of recklessness. That path ends right here, right now, in this Committee. This will be the Austerity Committee in the House of Representatives.”
At Upton’s direction, the Energy and Commerce Committee adopted new rules for the 112th Congress that reflect the broader GOP effort to increase transparency of the legislative process. Changes to the Committee’s rules include:
- Advance notice of at least three days before any committee meeting
- Availability of legislative text in advance of a markup
- Codifying the committee practice of posting record votes and information within 24 hours
- Permitting, but not requiring, the use of “stacked” or “rolled” votes
- Limiting the number of opening statements at hearings in order to increase the focus on, and time for, witness testimony and questioning
In addition, Upton used the organizing meeting to outline a new set of “Chairman’s Policies” to foster greater congressional oversight and fiscal discipline in the 112th Congress:
- Mandatory CutGo: The Energy and Commerce Committee will observe the same CutGo rules that apply on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Any increase in mandatory spending must be offset with cuts – not new revenue.
- Discretionary CutGo: New discretionary funding authorizations must be offset with reductions in other discretionary spending.
- Specific Authorizations: The Energy and Commerce Committee will not consider bills that authorize spending “such sums as may be necessary” – a legislative crutch that encourages runaway spending.
- Program Sunsets: Every program authorized or reauthorized by the Energy and Commerce Committee will have a sunset date of not more than seven years. Ineffective government programs should not remain on the books and bankrolled simply because Congress authorized them in perpetuity.
- Substantive Policy: The Energy and Commerce Committee will no longer consider commemorative legislation. There are plenty of opportunities outside the Committee for Members to recognize and commend holidays, sports triumphs, professions, and other items worthy of commemoration.
Text of Chairman Upton’s remarks from today’s Committee Organizational Meeting can be found HERE.