Majority Leader has outlined protocols
Early in his post as Majority Leader, Eric Cantor made it a priority to tighten rules for bringing legislation to the House floor. He wanted to make the process more efficient but also focus on bills that reflected the priorities of reducing debt and keeping federal power in check.
Now Cantor's website lists 10 protocols "intended to guide the Majority Leadership in the scheduling and consideration of legislation on the House floor.”
The standards include a requirement that any bill authorizing spending also include an end point "not later than seven years after the first fiscal year spending is authorized.” Another protocol says any bill that calls for government borrowing must include justification for it. Another sets up guidelines for debating the constitutionality of any proposal. The last protocol listed, the one governing appropriations bills, is incomplete.
We should also note that these standards are non-binding. As Cantor's website says, "While they do not govern the introduction of legislation, good-faith compliance with protocols will be necessary if such legislation is scheduled for the floor.”
A spokeswoman for his office said the protocols were distributed to both Republican and Democrat offices at the beginning of the Congress and all committees were briefed on the standards.
"Ultimately, our office determines whether specific legislation violates the protocols or not,” Cantor"s press secretary Megan Whittemore said.
Whittemore also mentioned the "Cantor rule,” which asks if a bill addresses job creation, grows the economy, reduces spending, shrinks the federal government and expands liberty.
"If not, why am I doing it … Why are WE doing it?” the rule reads. Whittemore said that a copy of the Cantor rule sits on the desk of everyone in his office. (Photo below.)
The formal legislative protocols are specific and complete for outlining what bills are brought to the House floor. We rate this a Promise Kept.
Rules of the House Republican Conference for the 112th Congress, adopted Dec. 8, 2010
MajorityLeader.gov, "Legislative Protocols for the 112th Congress,” accessed Nov. 8, 2012
Email interview with Megan Whittemore, press secretary for Eric Cantor, Nov. 5, 2012
House rules start the process for standards
Eric Cantor, the new majority leader, wants the Republicans to create better standards for bringing legislation to the floor.
"One of the primary duties of the Majority Leader is to schedule legislation for floor consideration. I believe it is critical that we rethink how we use the floor and the types of legislation that we consider so that we can better reflect our priorities and the challenges facing our country, our families, and our children," Cantor wrote in Delivering on Our Commitment: A Majority to Limit Government and Create Jobs. The document outlined his plans as majority leader in the new Congress.
Cantor suggested several standards that could be used to test legislation. He suggested requiring legislators to describe why federal legislation is needed (as opposed to state or local legislation); how a proposal would paid for; why new spending would be worth incurring debt; how the legislation advances the principles of "protecting families, promoting life, and upholding our traditional values," and how it advances the priorities of "jobs and the economy, reducing spending, and shrinking the size of the Federal Government while increasing and protecting liberty."
Cantor said he hoped to work with other members to finalize other standards.
The House adopted rules on Wednesday that begin the process of developing standards for legislation. For example, the rules say that legislators may not submit bills without "a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution."
Adopting the rules doesn't create the different types of standards Cantor envisioned, but it does mark a start. We rate this promise In the Works.
Thomas, Adopting rules for the 112th Congress, Jan. 6, 2011
House of Representatives Committee on Rules, Text of H.Res. 5, Providing for the Rules of the 112th Congress, Jan. 5, 2011
House of Representatives Committee on Rules, Section-by-Section Analysis, Jan. 5, 2011