Coffman to Support Major Reforms to House Rules
Highlights Bipartisanship, Transparency and Openness
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), a member of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, joined with other members of the caucus to introduce a package of reforms they plan to propose to amend the existing rules for the U.S. House of Representatives at the beginning of the 116th Congress beginning in January 2019. The Problem Solvers Caucus’ goal is for increased transparency, promoting bipartisanship and for encouraging a more open legislative process. They are in a unique position because, whichever party has the majority in the House, it is expected to have it by a narrow margin, giving a small number of members from the majority party the ability to block the election of the next Speaker of the House by denying their party the necessary votes until the proposed Problem Solver reforms are adopted.
“There is simply too much power in too few hands with too little getting done in Congress. There are strong bipartisan majorities supporting solutions on issues from healthcare to immigration. We need to change the rules to have an open process to vote on them” said Coffman.
Coffman was one of the first Republican members to join the 48 member Problem Solvers Caucus, which is divided equally between Republicans and Democrats and has been recognized for his leadership in finding bipartisan legislative solutions. The group was formed in early 2017 and is co-chaired by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheim (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY). The group has worked on finding common ground on issues ranging from health care to immigration but has been frustrated by their inabilities to get the efforts to come to a vote.
Their efforts to pass their bipartisan Problem Solvers’ proposals have invariably faced obstacles in getting their legislation to come to a vote. The Problem Solvers, including Coffman, believe this is due to rules of the U.S. House of Representatives that give the majority party almost absolute power to block bipartisan ideas from ever reaching the House floor and further concentrates that power in the hands of committee chairs and with the leadership of the majority party.
One example of the reforms listed is one that would require a vote, once a bill has 290 or more cosponsors (2/3 of the House) regardless of whether the respective committee chair or the leadership of the majority opposes it. Another would be giving every member of the House, regardless of whether they are from the majority or minority party, the ability to have one bill come before the House for a vote.
“These reforms will give individual members the ability to reach across the aisle to come up with common sense solutions that can easily pass on a bipartisan basis,” said Coffman.
In Colorado, a major reform was passed by the voters in a ballot initiative in 1988 called, “Give A Vote to Every Legislator,” or GAVEL, that required a hearing and a vote on every bill introduced by a state legislator, regardless of political party affiliation. Prior to GAVEL, the Colorado General Assembly ran much like the U.S. House of Representatives does today by concentrating power with the leadership of the majority party and allowing committee chairs to unilaterally decide which bills would be voted on and which ones would not.
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