Rep. Stephanie Murphy letter to Congress leadership on proposed MTR changes
1 December 15, 2020 Hon. Nancy Pelosi Hon. Steny D. Hoyer Speaker Majority Leader U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives Hon. James P. McGovern Chairman House Committee on Rules Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and Chairman McGovern: As you prepare the rules package for the 117th Congress, we write regarding the Motion to Recommit (MTR) in Rule XIX, clause 2. The MTR provides a final opportunity for the House to amend a legislative measure. The MTR is the prerogative of the minority party and may be the minority’s only chance to obtain a vote on a proposal to modify a measure. Under the current rule, if an MTR is adopted by a majority of Members voting, the text of the MTR is immediately incorporated into the bill, which then proceeds (as amended) to a vote on final passage. We do not believe the MTR should be eliminated or fundamentally changed, because we view it as an important tool for the minority party in an otherwise majoritarian institution. In principle, the MTR is worth protecting. At the same time, we do believe the MTR process requires reasonable reform. In practice, the minority party makes a deliberate decision to circulate the MTR to the majority party only a few minutes before Members must vote to adopt or reject the MTR. This sets off a mad scramble by Members to understand the MTR and its effect on the underlying bill. The text of the MTR is often lengthy, poorly drafted, and/or purposefully confusing. The minority party’s short summary of the MTR is usually misleading or incomplete. The five-minute description of the MTR given by a member of the minority party on the House floor typically takes the form of a partisan speech, one intended to score political points rather than to explain. As a result, despite their best efforts, Members often must vote on the MTR without having a full understanding of its substance or significance. This is the opposite of regular order; it is deliberate disorder manufactured by the minority party. It deprives Members of the opportunity to thoughtfully evaluate a legislative proposal before voting on it. This is problematic because our constituents repose trust in us to make informed decisions on their behalf.
2 Under these circumstances, we believe that the MTR process should be reformed to require support from two-thirds of Members voting, rather than a simple majority, in order for the MTR to be adopted and incorporated into a bill. A measure considered at the last moment, with little time for review, should only be adopted if it can garner strong bipartisan support. Raising the voting threshold for an MTR will have the salutary effect of encouraging the minority party to offer MTRs that can gain broad backing from both the minority party and the majority party. Our proposed change to the MTR process would put the MTR on the same plane as a bill considered under suspension of the rules, but would otherwise preserve this important legislative tool of the minority party. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, /s/Stephanie Murphy /s/Andre Carson Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Ed Case /s/Jennifer Wexton Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Kathleen M. Rice /s/Jim Costa Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Kurt Schrader /s/Chrissy Houlahan Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Kim Schrier, M.D. /s/Charlie Crist Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Tom O’Halleran /s/Scott H. Peters Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Darren Soto /s/Susan Wild Member of Congress Member of Congress /s/Jared Golden /s/Henry Cuellar Member of Congress Member of Congress
3 /sVicente Gonzalez Member of Congress