Democratic leaders, under pressure from across the caucus, are mulling ways to blunt a procedural tactic Republicans have used to divide their caucus on the floor. The GOP has repeatedly weaponized the decades-old tool to force endangered Democrats into controversial votes — which many worry could cost them critical seats in the next election.The GOP tactic, known as the motion to recommit, has haunted Democrats since the early days of taking back the majority in 2019. Some claim lawmakers of both parties have abused it for years. And Democrats are now considering whether to eliminate the minority tool altogether or at least make changes that would make it much harder for the GOP to score “gotcha” votes on the House floor.
One of the more popular options being considered is raising the threshold of lawmakers who can buck the party on the floor. One proposal from Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a senior Blue Dog, would require support from two-thirds of members to adopt the GOP motion.
Other Democrats support a change that would simply send the bill back to committee — as the procedure once required — rather than automatically add new language to the legislation, giving lawmakers a chance to review the language more closely.
Some have argued that Democrats should preserve at least parts of the procedural power. They include House Rules Chair Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who urged caution against drastic changes to the minority tool at a private leadership meeting this week. “I believe in making sure that minority rights are protected,” McGovern, whose panel is drafting the caucus’ new rules package, said in an interview this week, adding that his own party, too, has sought to use the tool for political reasons. “We did it when we were in the minority, they’re just better at it,” McGovern said.
Another institutionalist in Democratic leadership, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, said he is still studying potential tweaks to the motion, but said he would support some kind of change. “The problem is it has been corrupted and turned into a weapon of partisan warfare,” Raskin, a constitutional law scholar, said in an interview. “I would like to see it survive as a real procedural motion but reduced as a weapon of war.”