At Roll Call, Jim Saksa reviews how the Freedom Caucus is proposing to change Republican Conference rules and House rules.

“Congress has been testing this speaker-dominant model for at least 30 years,” said Kevin Kosar, congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Certainly it has some advantages in terms of being able to make commitments to voters and then push legislation through the House on party-line votes. The downside is legislators feel like they’re not legislators.


“Legislators now need more authority to behave as legislators,” Kosar added. “If they don’t have that authority, they’re going to do other stuff, like a dog without a toy chewing on the couch. They will engage in the performative stuff.”

The Freedom Caucus released an outline of the reforms they are seeking over the summer, following it up with a memo directed at incoming lawmakers warning them how little power they’d have under the centralized status quo. On Wednesday, the group saw many of its ideas taken seriously, as Republicans began sifting through a list of 24 specific proposed changes to conference rules.


Among their proposals are ones that would place more members unaffiliated with the speaker onto the House Republican Steering Committee (which decides the committees that GOP members can join), let the entire Republican Conference pick who sits on the powerful Rules Committee (rather than the speaker) and reimplement a “majority of the majority” rule that would prevent any bills coming to the floor that didn’t have the support of most Republicans.

At least some of those wishes, like expanding the Steering Committee, are likely to come true.


Other proposals include a prohibition on earmarks; a ban on suspending the rules, a fast-track procedure, on bills with price tags over $100 million; and a requirement to pass spending bills before the fiscal year begins, or else no other legislation can be heard on the floor.