Patrick Ramjug at LegBranch.org: says that two types of motions to recommit (MTRs) on the House floor: the rare “simple” MTR sends the bill back to the reporting committee, effectively killing it. The “amendatory” MTR is akin to an eleventh-hour amendment to the bill in question. It has become a political tool for the minority party and the bane of the majority.
[The] new rules package strips all explicit protections for the amendatory MTR from chamber rules. This means the Speaker of the House will now be able to draw upon a 1934 precedent to rule any amendatory MTRs as out of order on bills reported with strict amendment prohibitions (which will almost surely include the overwhelming majority of bills considered in the 117th Congress). And, it removes the amendatory protections without actually outlawing or altering the minority’s prerogative regarding the simple MTR.
While this will put an end to minority-party abuse of the MTR, there are larger consequences for the legislative process. In fact, this reform is only one segment of a longer trend in recent congressional history where rank-and-file Members have allocated highly centralized power to party leaders; entrusting them with much of the policy information and creation duties in the House—and this includes largely relinquishing the power to amend legislation on the floor.
In fact, with the replacement of regular order with order by closed rule, amendatory activity has gone nearly extinct on the floor: the percentage of bills considered under amendment restrictions has been steadily rising for the past 100 years, culminating with both former-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) prohibiting a single open-amendment bill on the floor of the House for the entirety of the 115th and 116th Congresses, respectively.
Now that amendatory MTRs have followed open-amendment bills into oblivion, the opportunities for rank-and-file Members—particularly those in the minority party—to amend legislation on the floor are all but gone. Many see these developments toward a top-down legislative process as anachronistic to a pluralistic, democratic republic. Others, like party leaders (and many rank-and-file Members) will argue that restricting floor amendments is the only way to move legislation and maintain majority status in today’s contentious political environment.