Ranking Member McGovern Condemns House Republicans’ Refusal to Allow Votes on Major Issues as the 115th Congress Becomes the Most Closed Congress in History

May 22, 2018

Ranking Member James P. McGovern

House Committee on Rules

Representing Massachusetts' 2nd District


Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Jeff Gohringer (202) 225-2888


Ranking Member McGovern Condemns House Republicans’ Refusal to Allow Votes on Major Issues as the 115th Congress Becomes the Most Closed Congress in History

Releases new report highlighting how restrictive rules have blocked action on bipartisan priorities like creating jobs, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, and making education more affordable

Speaker Ryan has utilized 84 closed rules, while being the first Speaker in history to never allow a truly open rule


Washington, DC — Today, House Rules Committee Ranking Member James P. McGovern (MA-02) condemned House Republicans’ restrictive process as they break their own closed rule record, making the 115th Congress the most closed Congress in American history. There have now been 84 closed rules this Congress, which block all amendments from both Democratic and Republican Members. A new report released by Rules Committee Democrats highlights how Republican leaders have used restrictive rules to block measures to create jobs, bring down the cost of prescription drugs, and make education more affordable. These important policies deserve a debate on the House Floor, yet they are routinely blocked from even being considered.

“This closed process is why the American people are so fed up with the Republican Congress. This House routinely ignores the public’s priorities at a time when people are marching in the streets in record numbers. Bipartisan proposals that would create jobs, make prescription drugs more affordable, and bring down the cost of education can’t even get a vote on the House Floor. The Republican leadership is afraid of a fair fight because they know the public is with us and many of our proposals would win if we got a vote,” said McGovern.

With the issuance of their 84th closed rule this Congress, House Republicans have broken the prior record, which they set during the first session of the 114th Congress. This Congress alone, the Republican Majority has blocked amendments from more than 380 Members of Congress. These blocked amendments represent significant policy proposals from Members that collectively represent more than 270 million Americans.

Speaker Ryan is the only Speaker is history to never have a truly open rule, which would allow any Member to offer an amendment on the House Floor that complies with the standing rules of the House and the Budget Act. 

This inauspicious record not only suppresses the voices of millions of Americans, it also stands in stark contrast to the Speaker’s own promise of returning to regular order. Shortly after getting the gavel, he said, “I wanted to have a process that is more open, more inclusive, more deliberative, more participatory – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Among the amendments Republican leaders have blocked include measures from Democrats and Republicans that would prevent the shipping of jobs overseas, help disabled veterans, promote small business disaster recovery, ensure health benefits for children, improve maternity care, ban bump stocks, protect students, allow common-sense gun safety research, decide whether to send troops to war, preserve clean air and water, ensure Presidential ethics, defend our national security, promote community policing, and advance forensic science.

“Speaker Ryan and his allies have turned legislative procedure into a rigged process. Proposals the public overwhelmingly supports, from strengthening our background check system to protecting the DREAMers, can’t get a vote. Democratic and Republican members are routinely shut out of the deliberative process. If we are fortunate enough to get control of the Rules Committee again, we will have a more accommodating process that furthers bipartisanship instead of this partisan rancor,” said McGovern.