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American Governemnt- The Rules Committee
Committees are parts of the house and senate that specialize in one particular aspect of laws, bills, etc. We have committees so that every time a bill is submitted, it does not have to be heard in entirety by all of the house or senate. Instead the bill is sent to the designated committee and then is read by them. After the appropriate committee reads the bill, they take a vote if it can continue to the floor. If it is passed to the floor, the committee than summarizes it, including key points, pros of the bill, and flaws. This summery is than read in front of the house or senate and then everyone can vote on it. These committees exist to speed up the voting process on bills and to become the most efficient on getting the whole floor to understand a bill. There are 25 committees that have their own sets of expertise and responsibilities. An example of some of the committees are; the committees of Agriculture, Appropriations, Ethics, Homeland Security, Judiciary, Small Business, Veterans, and the Joint Economic Committee. The committee I choose to research is the Committee of Rules from the House of Representatives.
The Rules Committee is seen as a “traffic cop” to all the other committees. The rules committee does not have one specific jurisdiction, but is responsible for regulating the conditions in which bills can enter other committees and the house floor. This committee can be seen as one of the most important for all of the actions it is in control of. This committee does not introduce bills, however, it is responsible for setting the regulations for a bill to go to the floor. Some actions it controls are: who will be the floor managers for and against the bill, how many amendments can be proposed, who can be proposed, and how long the debate for the bill can last. This is a very important role to fill and the power can be misused. For example, the committee is usually is run by the majority, this would make it easier for them to pass bills that favor their party and shutdown bills from the opposing party. Since this party does not make laws or pass bills, it concerns are always changing depending on the bill. Some of the bills that have ran through the committee recently are the: Border Safety and Security Bill, Impact Aid for Local Students Act, Preserving our Intelligence Capabilities Act, National Weather Monitoring Act, and Head Start for Low Income Families Act.
The Chairman for the Rules Committee is Pete Sessions. He is a republican from Texas. He was raised in what could be seen as a stereotypical Texas home. His parents are very religious and that has been passes on to him. He is a very active conservative and his actions reflect that. He is a “defender of common sense”, is active in his community, and relies heavy on morals to influence people’s actions. He is involved in two caucus’s in which he is the co-chair. The caucuses are “The Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus” and “The Yellow Pages Caucus”. He is active in the advancement for those with disabilities because he has a son with Down Syndrome. The ranking member for the Rules Committee is Louise Slaughter from New York. She is not active in any other committees. Louise is a democrat, who has been on the committee since 1986. She is currently on her 14th term and has gained a positive reputation. Seeing as he party is the minority she is a figure who steps up and fights against bills that other would accept and even wrote a book calling out corrupt politicians. This book was the building block to the STOCK act, which outlawed insider trading by Members of Congress and their staffs. She is very definitive about her position and is always willing to voice her opinion to the opposing party. The entire committee has 13 members, in which 9 are republicans and 3 are democrat. As you can see this is a 3:1 ratio of republicans to democrats, making it hard for the democrats to have their voice heard.
Importance of the Rules Committee
This committee is very important to every other committee and to the House itself. It is important because it is the “gate keeper” of all bills and acts. The members of this committee determine who will be the floor managers for and against the bill, how many amendments can be proposed, who can be proposed, and how long the debate for the bill can last. These are very important and consequential actions. If the committee fails to give a bill appropriate enough time for its importance to be explained and its use seen, than a potentially nation changing bill can be thrown out. On the Contrary, if the committee gives some bills to much time on the floor then the whole process will be slower and would not allow as many bills to get onto the floor.
Importance of Committees
Committees as a whole can be an important and beneficial means to the legislative system. The committees specialize in different aspects of the law. This is very helpful when they summarize bills into simpler terms for the entire floor to understand. This allows more bills to come onto the floor and a greater range and variety of people to understand them and vote on them in an educated manner. The Rules Committee is especially important because of the role it plays to all the other committees and the House as a whole. Without the Rules Committee there would be no regulations to the bills or the standards to be followed on the floor of the house. Because of the rules committee there are regulations on every bill concerning its floor time and any other specifications. Thus making the voting process much more speedy and effective than normal.