Five ways Republicans will change the House

The US House of Representatives rewrites its own internal rules every two years, and House Republicans are proposing sweeping rules changes to limit the cost and scope of government, increase openness, and make it easier to cut taxes. The rules package will face a vote when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 5. It typically passes on a party-line vote without amendment.

These new rules include:

1. Focus on the Constitution

Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI/Newscom
Rep. John Boehner (R) of Ohio holds a copy of the US Constitution at a health-care reform rally on Capitol Hill on Nov. 5, 2009.

Any member proposing legislation must include a statement citing “as specifically as practical” Congress’s constitutional authority to pass the law.

House Republicans set up a similar rule in 1997 that is still in effect, but that requirement is less stringent – applying not to all the thousands of bills that members of Congress write, but only to the relatively few that pass out of committee. This new rule, along with a first-ever reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House, is a nod to the tea party activists who challenged Congress’s constitutional authority to require Americans to purchase health insurance, set standards for local schools, or pay for highways or mass transit.

Some conservatives urged GOP leaders to strengthen this rule. At a caucus meeting Tuesday, Rep. Scott Garrett (R) of New Jersey argued that lawmakers shouldn’t be able to meet the requirement by simply citing the clause in the Preamble to “promote the general Welfare.”

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