Everyone knows Congress is broken. For decades, the swamp in Washington, D.C., has embraced corrupt and incestuous policymaking at the expense of hard-working Americans.
From passing $1.8 trillion, 4,155-page long spending bills just before Christmas; to secret backroom deals negotiated by lobbyists and special interests; to passing $500 billion suspension bills without a single member even having to cast a vote — these broken processes are not what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they established our constitutional republic.
This sentiment is broadly held across America, where Congress’ approval rating plummeted to just 15% under Nancy Pelosi.
To be clear, it’s not just one party that is responsible for the lack of trust in the institution. For decades, both Republican and Democrat leadership have worked to consolidate power at the top, leaving little ability for individual members to enact change on behalf of the people they represent.
It was far past time to fundamentally change the way business is done in Congress.
I’m proud to report back to you and the people of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District that I helped lead the negotiations to end business as usual in Washington D.C. Nineteen of my colleagues and I spearheaded rigorous debate about the broken rules and processes in Congress and the importance of taking action to tackle these issues head-on as opposed to continuing to kick the proverbial can down the road. We were successful and made historic, once in a generation, improvements to this body. Here are just a few:
1. In the 118th Congress, bills must be about a single subject. Last session, House Democrats passed a so-called $1.2 trillion dollar “infrastructure bill.” Shamefully, less than 10% of the actual funds in the bill went to roads and bridges, with hundreds of billions of dollars going to Solyndra-style slush funds and Green New Deal policies, a $400 billion kickback to big labor, and even $10 million going to a program to save butterflies and bees. These unrelated topics should have never been lumped together in the same vote. Forty-seven state legislatures — including Colorado — have single-subject rules, and I’m proud that Congress will follow suit.
2. Members will have time to read the bills before voting on them. Remember the infamous line by Speaker Pelosi, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Well, that’s a thing of the past; all members will have a minimum of 72 hours to read legislation before voting on it.
3. House Republicans will do the hard work and fund the government as Congress intended. That means scrapping the horrific omnibus bills and continuing resolutions, and passing 12 individual appropriations bills through regular order. This allows for input, debate, and amendments that will reduce federal spending and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
4. The Motion to Vacate the Chair, an accountability mechanism that was written by Thomas Jefferson and implemented in 1837 has been restored. Bottom line: Republican leadership must follow through on these promises, and we have the accountability in place to ensure that occurs.
I am proud that we took a little extra time and got this right. The changes we achieved decentralize power from leadership, empower individual Members of both parties, vastly improve how Congress functions, and deliver a historic win for the American people.
House conservatives also received commitments to vote on widely popular ideas such as a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the terms of Members of Congress, the Fair Tax (which would replace the complicated income tax with a simple national sales tax), and ending the outdated COVID-19 national emergency and its expanded abuses.
A lot of folks didn’t think we had a plan, but of course we did. It’s just that in the middle of a poker hand, you don’t show your cards. But we knew what we wanted to accomplish for the American people, and we certainly got there.
We had all 434 Members of the House sitting on the House Floor, debating with each other live on CSPAN with Americans around the country able to see exactly what was happening. This was honest, open, and transparent governance at its finest.
Not many in power want to give up control, but Speaker McCarthy saw that these changes were about fixing a broken Congress and returning power to the American people. Credit him for working with us on these generational improvements. Now that we have our rules and leadership, I’m looking forward to getting to work with Speaker McCarthy and all my colleagues to deliver for the American people.
Lauren Boebert, of Rifle, represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The essay has been amended to remove the assertion that the House leadership had committed, as part of its negotiation over proposed House rules, to hold a vote concerning the reinstatement of armed services members who were discharged because of their refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine. If such a vote is to occur, it will not be because of the rules negotiations.
The change was made because of an author error in the original version, and was made at 10:20 a.m. on Jan. 10.
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