Blue Dogs push House leadership to allow more member input

March 31, 2021
In The News

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist House Democrats, is pushing their party's leadership to return to regular legislative order following a burst of fast-tracked activity at the start of the year.

A letter from the group reflects rising frustration among rank-and-file Democrats at the lack of opportunity for input on major legislation through committee hearings, markups and amendments.

“Regular order is essential to ensuring the views of our constituents are heard and considered regardless of the legislative outcome,” Blue Dog leaders Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill. 

Rules passed by the House exempted all legislation through Thursday from requiring a markup or traditional hearing, allowing the House to vote on major legislation such as voting rights and gun laws without going through lengthy hearings.

The idea was to allow the House to quickly move major priorities in the current Congress that had already gone through the process and passed in previous sessions, and send them to the Senate for consideration, as well as jump-start President Biden’s agenda. 

The Blue Dog letter said that not only should regular order return, but Congress should also have time to review Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation scores, laying out the fiscal impact of all legislation, well ahead of votes. 

“Without these reports and estimates, lawmakers are blind to the economic effects of the policies they are developing,” the letter said.

"It is our view that these steps are key for Democrats to uphold our promise to the American people for inclusive, responsible, and transparent governance,” it continued. 

Some members, for example, expressed frustration that floor amendments were not permitted for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed earlier this month. That bill, passed through a special budgetary process, did have markups and scores, though several subcommittees skipped their markups to expedite the process.

The letter comes as President Biden prepares to unveil his next major legislative priority, a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that will require significant negotiations in Congress.