Reed, Katko, Fitzpatrick help House approve rules package with congressional gridlock reform

Ripon Advance

U.S. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY), John Katko (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), all members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, recently helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass a rules package that includes provisions from the bipartisan group’s Break the Gridlock proposal. 

The House on Jan. 3 voted 234-197 to adopt Democrats’ new rules for the House in the 116th Congress that also include other provisions to preempt debt ceiling fights in the House, repeal tax cut-friendly budgeting, and reinstate “pay-as-you-go” rules, among several others.

“The reforms the Problem Solvers Caucus were able to include in this rules package go a long way to empower the people we represent, enable rank-and-file members to govern and make it easier for bipartisan bills to pass,” Rep. Reed said. “I was proud to vote ‘yes’ as a show of good faith to my Democrat colleagues and look forward to working together to pass bills to help the American people.”

The bipartisan rules agreement, the first bipartisan passage of a rules agreement in nearly 20 years, according to the lawmakers, includes numerous Break the Gridlock proposals agreed to by Republican and Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

For instance, the agreement includes the group’s proposal to reform the motion to vacate the chair, which would prevent the Speaker of the House from being held hostage by a single member, according to a summary provided by Rep. Reed’s office. 

Additionally, the House-approved rules package includes caucus provisions to create a consensus calendar that would hasten consideration of bills having broad support; require House committees to provide three business days notice for committee markups; and require bills that go through the U.S. House Rules Committee to have a hearing and a markup before they go to the House floor for a vote, according to the summary.

“Under the new rules, bills with broad bipartisan support will be considered quickly and more transparently,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. “I am hopeful these new rules create a more effective and bipartisan institution.” 

Rep. Katko added that he voted for the rules package because he supports the Problem Solvers Caucus’ set of principles to ensure the House runs more efficiently. 

“Bills with broad support will now be considered quickly and the legislative process will become more transparent,” said Rep. Katko. “I am hopeful that with these changes, the institution will function in a more bipartisan manner.”

Since June 2018, the Problem Solvers Caucus has advocated for changes to the House rules that would improve how members govern, according to Reed’s statement. 

Following months of negotiations, Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus reached agreement on what provisions to include in the Break the Gridlock proposal with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA).

In the 116th Congress, the Problem Solvers Caucus plans to continue bipartisan efforts toward finding solutions to issues having national importance. 

For example, Reps. Katko and Fitzpatrick both said they also strongly oppose congressional attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in federal court because such action threatens patient protection provisions. 

“Last Congress, I supported the Maintaining Protections for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, which protects Americans with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage,” Rep. Fitzpatrick explained last week. “The rules package that I voted for today allows the House to defend Americans with pre-existing conditions, and Democratic leadership must use this authority to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

Rep. Katko said on Jan. 3 that he also stands by his earlier pledge to support such Affordable Care Act provisions.

“Last Congress, I joined a bipartisan resolution expressing the need for Congress to act swiftly to reinstate these protections should they be hindered by any court ruling,” said the lawmaker, who urged Democrats to use this authority “to fight for those with pre-existing conditions – not abuse their power to explore or re-visit decided legal challenges within the Affordable Care Act.”

The House is slated to take up more provisions for the rules package soon.