Regular Order in House

capitolWe hear much about regular order; regular order is supposed to guarantee fair proceedings in the House. The article by Don Wolfensberger cited below defines regular order as:

The regular order can be defined as those rules, precedents and customs of Congress that constitute an orderly and deliberative policymaking process. The process includes an objective assessment of the problem through inclusive information-gathering; a balanced weighing of alternative solutions and coming to final judgment on a solution through robust debate among all parties.

Regular order is supposed to end domination of House proceedings by the leadership of the majority party through control of Committee assignments and domination of the Rules Committee. As Wolfensberger explains, regular order is no panacea. What the Freedom Caucus expects from regular order is unclear. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) writes:

Under regular order, bipartisanship and compromise flourish. With control over the legislative agenda devolved to committees, subcommittees, and individual representatives, more liberal outcomes are possible, but so, too, are more conservative or libertarian outcomes. No one gets everything he or she wants, but under a fair, deliberative process, we all can respect the results. Most important, the outcomes more genuinely reflect the will of the people.

Rep. Amash seems to recognize that with fair rules, regular order, bills such as immigration reform favored by a majority of the House might be enacted by a bipartisan majority. The leadership would not block a vote.  But then Rep. Dave Brat, like Amash a member of the Freedom Caucus, includes the Hastert Rule in his list of principles. The Hastert Rule–the Speaker prevents controversial issues from being considered–is the antithesis of regular order if regular order means fair play for all members.

If Rep. Paul Ryan is chosen as Speaker, would the Freedom Caucus demand regular order as a condition for their support. If so, would Ryan, a party loyalist, agree? Which form of regular order would it be: the inclusive vision of Justin Amash or the exclusive version of Dave Brat?

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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