The House Rules Committee released a resolution earlier today that contains proposed rules for the House of Representatives for the 113th Congress. It also released a summary of the proposed changes. These standing rules govern most facets of how the House operates, and the House Republican Conference will meet on January 2nd to consider the proposal. (In addition to considering the rules for the House, we expect that the Republican Conference will adopt and then make its own rules available online for the 113th Congress.)
In December, the Sunlight Foundation released recommendations on how the House should update its rules to be more transparent. We are pleased to note that the resolution would expand the House’s anti-nepotism rule to include grandchildren and reauthorizes the Office of Congressional Ethics. We are still studying the other changes. We had hoped that the House would adopt a chamber-wide presumption in favor of public access to information as well as create a public index of the information it holds, but that doesn’t seem likely at this time.
When you add together the changes the House made at the start of the 112th Congress (which we redlined here and made recommendations regarding here), the 3 transparency conferences it held during the 112th (including a hackathon), the release of the transparency portal docs.house.gov, rules for publishing documents online, and much more, it’s clear that the House in a number of respects has become a more transparent institution over the last two years. We hope that the leadership’s enthusiasm for openness does not wane, which can become a concern the longer a party stays in power.
Please note that there’s more to the resolution than changing the standing rules. It also contains a number of separate orders (such as continuing the ban on lobbyists from the House gym) and addresses issues regarding committees, commissions, and House offices (such extending subpoena power for the Fast and Furious investigation and continuing the authorization of the DOMA litigation).