Hoyer: Reforms to House Rules Enable Congress to Work More Effectively

For Immediate Release:

January 6, 2009

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke today on the House floor in support of House Resolution 5, the Rules Package for the 111th Congress. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

 
"Two years ago, Democrats were elected to the majority with a pledge that, under our leadership, the House would dedicate itself to integrity and accountability. We kept that promise.
 
"Today, gifts from lobbyists are banned, the use of corporate jets is prohibited, the earmark process is transparent, all House employees are trained in ethics, and an independent Office of Congressional Ethics has been established. But we also understand that holding this House to high standards is not simply the work of one session, or one resolution, or one Congress. It is a project for all of us to renew, year after year. I would like to touch on some of the most important new standards for the 111th Congress—a new rules package that will ensure that the House does the people’s work ethically and efficiently.
 
"First, we understand that the 'revolving door' between the public and private sectors can compromise the independence of judgment that voters deserve. That is why these new rules will prevent 'lame duck' Members from negotiating employment contracts in secret, before their terms expire.
 
"Second, the rules will no longer set term limits for Committee chairs. I understand that our Republican colleagues once wrote term limits into the rules in an effort against entrenched power. But it is now clear that that effort fell victim to what conservatives like to call the law of unintended consequences: With chairmanships up for grabs so frequently, fundraising ability became one of the most important job qualifications, and legislative skill was sacrificed to political considerations.
 
"Third, these rules limit the abuse of motions to recommit. We invite good-faith efforts to improve legislation—and in these hard times, we need the Republican Party to be a constructive partner in policy making. But we all understand which motions are not offered in good faith: Those are the motions that attempt to kill bills through parliamentary tricks and waste our constituents’ time on 'gotcha' politics.
 
"Fourth, we are continuing our work to reform earmarks, removing loopholes that allow Members to make some earmarks in secret.
 
"Fifth and finally, these rules confirm our commitment to fiscal responsibility. A binge of borrowing has weakened our economy, tied our hands in a financial crisis, and saddled our children and grandchildren with $9 trillion in foreign-owned debt. That recklessness must end—and these rules will help end it.
 
"Madam Speaker, these rules embody our vision for this House as an institution: a place that debates constructively, spends wisely, and lives, in the actions of all its Members and all its staff, by a standard we can be proud of. That is our vision for the House, and I urge my colleagues to approve it."

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