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A Determined Minority: The House GOP in the 110th Congress

By Mark Strand

The Republicans are in the House of Representatives minority now, searching for wins in a place where the Democrats should be able to rout them day after day.  The GOP should take a look at the tactics they used in the 110th Congress, when they skillfully and repeatedly used parliamentary tactics to embarrass the Democrats who controlled the House.

The Republicans’ victories in the 110th Congress are noteworthy because the House of Representatives is said to be a majoritarian institution – that is, a place where a determined majority—i.e., a majority that is cohesive and purpose driven—can work its will.  The majoritarian principle is the idea that House Rules permit a determined majority to achieve its policy objectives.[i] The history of the House of Representatives is largely one of steadily increased power for the majority at the expense of the minority.  Walter Oleszek, with the Congressional Research Service writes, “The principle of majority rule is embedded in the rules, precedents, and practices of the House.”[ii]  Thus, the House is structured to enact the will of the majority party; minority victories are, by design, supposed to be extremely rare.

Despite the House’s majoritarian bent, in the 110th Congress, the last time the Republicans were in the minority with a Republican President, a determined minority was frequently able to prevent the majority party from working its will, contradicting established assumptions of minority power in the House.  The Republican minority excelled at using the motion to recommit, the discharge petition, the veto strategy and procedural disruption to overcome the House majority and significantly influence the outcome of legislation.

The House Majority’s Power

The House majority derives its power from two sources.  The first are the Rules of the House, approved at the beginning of each Congress by a simple majority vote.  These are the standing procedures under which the House conducts its business, regulating everything from voting to the behavior of members.  The second source is special rules, reported by the Committee on Rules, to regulate debate on specific legislation.  Special rules spell out the procedures for which most major bills are debated and amended, including the amount of time for general debate and amendments; what amendments will be allowed, if any; and what standing rules will be waived when considering the bill in question.

The House rarely rejects special rules.  The modern Rules Committee has a majority of two to one plus one (the current Rules Committee has a majority of 9:4). Since the Speaker appoints each Member of the majority, a special rule clearly reflects his or her will.  A Member of the majority party voting to defeat a special rule (either in the Rules Committee or on the Floor) is doing so in defiance of their own party leadership.  The Speaker may allow a Member of the majority to vote against a rule for political reasons, but not if it would result in defeat of the special rule.  In the rare occasion that they are defeated, the Rules Committee can simply go back a craft a new rule sufficient to gain a majority of votes.

In general, since the 100th Congress (1987-88) majority parties have systematically sought to limit debate and minority party participation in the amendment process through the use of special rules.  Rules can restrict amendments to varying degrees.  Open rules allow for any amendment that meets the House germaneness rule (generally, an amendment must relate to the subject of the bill being debated).  Closed rules prohibit amendments.  In between are structured rules, limiting the number and type of amendments allowed.

A partisan majority, therefore, can manipulate the standing and special rules of the House to that is has the opportunity to pass its agenda, if it can maintain party cohesion.  The opportunity for the minority to influence legislation is highly restricted and requires creativity, party cohesion and the ability to siphon off a sufficient number of Members in the majority party.  If successful, the minority party faces threats of majority countermeasures that further threaten its ability to influence legislation. Yet despite the institutional restrictions, the minority Republicans in the 110th Congress succeeded numerous times in defeating the majority’s policy agenda.

National Security: Motion to Recommit

The 110th Congress began with a switch of party control.  In the 2006 elections the Democratic Party gained 31 seats, sweeping away twelve years of Republican rule.  At the beginning of the 110th Congress, the Democrats and their new Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a 233-202[iii] advantage.  The Republican minority was experienced with the limits of majority control in the House, however, and required the votes of only 16 Democratic members to achieve a majority on any given roll call vote.  The Republicans’ most successful tactic in the 110th Congress was the motion to recommit.  They offered 120 motions, and the House agreed to 24 of them. By comparison, since 1989, the previous record was six successful motions, set in both the 102nd and 103rd Congresses.[iv]

The motion to recommit is a procedure specifically included in the Rules of the House to protect the rights of the minority.  A motion to recommit can take two forms.  A straight motion to recommit effectively kills a bill.[v]  A motion to recommit with instructions refers the bill back to committee with instructions to include the amendment attached.  In reality, this process is a formality since the committee is deemed to have reported the bill with the amendment included in the motion.  If the motion passes the amendment is included in the bill.  The House may entertain such a motion after the completion of all other action on the underlying legislation.  The motion must be germane, and the minority can only offer one motion to recommit on any bill. The increasingly restrictive nature of special rules magnifies the importance of the motion to recommit with instructions, since that may be the only amendment opponents of a bill have the opportunity to offer.  Majorities have only themselves to blame since the restrictive nature of the modern majorities have forced the minority to use the motion to recommit regularly.

The motion to recommit has its modern origins in 1909 when Speaker Joe Cannon, in an attempt to stave off a revolt against his speakership, offered a rules package that reserved to the opponents of a bill the final opportunity to amend the bill through a motion to recommit.  A1932 ruling by Speaker Nance Garner specifically reserved for the minority the right to make the motion to recommit.[1]  Democratic majorities during the late 1970s through the early 1990s began restricting this traditional right by passing special rules that denied motions to recommit with instructions.  This essentially reduced the motion to recommit to a redundant inverse of the vote on final passage.  Donald Wolfensberger, the Director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, detailed 83 special rules between 1977 and 1995 where the Democratic majority denied or limited the minority’s ability to offer a motion to recommit with instructions.  Republicans vigorously protested, and when they became the majority in 1995, affirmed the minority’s right (now the Democrats) to offer a motion to recommit with instructions into the House Rules, thus fully restoring this traditional right of the minority.[2]

It is a powerful right.  Congressional scholar Keith Krehbiel expressed puzzlement as to why a majority body would tolerate allowing the minority to allocate the “last proposer” right.  Krehbiel argues that this right favors the minority “because it can construct – or credibly threaten to construct – an amendment that attracts bipartisan support over the status quo.”[3]

Krehbiel is right to identify the motion to recommit with instructions as an amendment.  Its importance is magnified by the increasing restrictive nature of special rules under which most legislation is considered, since the motion to recommit with instructions may be the only amendment opponents of a bill have the opportunity to offer.  Majorities have only themselves to blame since it is the restrictive nature of the modern majorities that have forced the expansive use by the minority of the motion to recommit.

Since the House in the 110th agreed to 24 motions to recommit there are plenty of examples to choose from, but not all of the relevant bills became law.  The “shield law” for allowing airline passengers to report suspicious behavior without fear of reprisals started as a motion to recommit and became law.  In November 2006 six imams were removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis for disruptive behavior reported by passengers and crew.  The imams sued the passengers for making “false reports against them on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity and national origin.”[vi]  House Republicans, among others, feared that such a lawsuit would intimidate citizens into remaining quiet about their suspicions regarding potential terrorist activities – effectively eliminating a key tool for law enforcement officials attempting to prevent terrorist attacks.

On March 27, 2007, during the debate on the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007, Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-NM) made a motion to recommit the bill with instructions to insert a germane provision that “any person who voluntarily reports a suspicious activity that could be a threat to transportation security will be immune from civil liability for the disclosure.”[vii]  The motion passed 304-121, with 105 Democrats joining all 199 Republicans.  The amendment was included in final passage.  It was later included in the final House-Senate conference report at the insistence of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).[viii]

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer accused the Republicans of blindsiding the majority with motions to “redraft legislation.”  He went on to threaten to change the Rules of the House to revert to the oppressive tactics of majorities from 1977-1995.  After Republicans threatened to use procedural motions to cripple the House, the majority backed down and instead issued a warning to Democrats that they were expected to vote against Republican motions to recommit “regardless of content.”[ix]

This was a hollow warning.  To obtain the majority in the 2006 elections, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) deliberately recruited moderate and conservative Democratic candidates to defeat incumbent Republicans and win Republican-leaning open seats.  Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the DCCC chairman in 2007 said regarding the freshmen who vote for Republican motions to recommit, “we’ve given them very simple advice: Make sure you vote your district.”[x] Centrist and conservative Democrats sided with the minority party—and presumably their districts—rather than the majority party leadership. This is an acknowledgment of what Davidson calls the “two Congresses,” that each member must reconcile.  The “first Congress” is the legislative body performing the business of the nation.  The “second Congress” is the institution that allows members to do what is necessary to maintain their support at home.[4]  Each member must reconcile these two aspects of Congress, and in the case of the more conservative freshmen recruited by Emanuel that sometimes means voting for motions to recommit that their constituents would support.

As a result of Rep. Pearce’s motion to recommit, a determined minority was able to overcome the restrictions imposed by a determined majority to significantly influence legislation in the 110th Congress.

Immigration Reform: Discharge Petitions

The minority in the 110th Congress successfully used a procedure known as a discharge petition to indirectly force majority action on immigration enforcement.  A discharge petition, first adopted in 1910, is a means to force a bill to the floor, bypassing the committee of jurisdiction, the House Rules Committee, or both.[xi]  Committees in the House are gatekeepers: They control the flow of legislation, vetoing most bills and permitting passage of only those the majority wants considered.[xii]  The discharge petition allows members to circumvent the gate-keeping role.[xiii]

According to the rules of the 110th Congress, after a bill has been held in committee for over 30 legislative days, any member may introduce a motion to discharge the committee from further consideration of the measure.  Members may sign the petition at the clerk’s desk when the House is in session.  A majority of the entire House, 218 Members, must sign the petition.  When the 218th signature is collected, the bill is placed on the discharge calendar, where, after seven legislative days, a signatory could call it up for debate on the second or fourth Monday of the month.[xiv]  Debate on the motion is limited to 20 minutes evenly divided between proponents and opponents, and the House votes on whether to discharge the committee of the bill.  If successful, the bill becomes the House business until disposed of.[xv]

Discharge petitions rarely succeed because it is considered an act of rebellion against the party leadership for a majority Member to sign one.  By signing a discharge petition, a Member of the majority is rejecting the committee system, the Rules Committee, and the Speaker.  The threat of discharging a committee, however, can be a powerful form of leverage to force  action. Since the majority party has an interest in preserving the committee system and controlling policy outcomes, it has a compelling interest in heading off a successful discharge effort by offering a suitable alternative to Members threatening to sign.  This was exactly the case during 2008 when the minority forced action on legislation to strengthen immigration enforcement.

In November 2007, Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) introduced H.R. 4088, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007 (SAVE Act).  The bill was designed to increase border enforcement through increased use of technology, additional border patrol agents and an enhanced electronic checking system to help employers identify workers determine if employees were legally eligible to be hired.[xvi]  As an enforcement-only bill, most Democrats, opposed it strongly, particularly the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), whose Members favored a comprehensive approach that combined enforcement provisions with guest worker and amnesty provisions for illegal aliens already in the United States.  By March 2008, nearly 50 Democrats had cosponsored the bill.[xvii]

On March 11, Republican Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA) initiated a petition to discharge the six committees from further consideration of the SAVE Act.[xviii]  Republicans quickly joined the discharge petition, which eventually had 190 signatures – including those of ten Democrats.  In response to the growing threat that the discharge petition would be successful, Speaker Pelosi relented and agreed that Democrats should hold hearings on the bill.[xix]  The concession angered some House Democrats, including influential Members.  Yet, on July 31, after several hearings, the House passed H.R. 6633, the E-Verify bill, which lifted one of the provisions of the SAVE Act, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to reauthorize and enhance a government-sponsored employee verification system.  The House passed the bill 407-2, but it died quietly in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Though the SAVE Act did not become law, the minority forced the majority to hold hearings and advance legislation, albeit watered-down, which divided their caucus while uniting the minority.

The Iraq War: The Veto Strategy

The point of pursuing a majority in Congress is to control the policy agenda.  If there was a mandate for the majority in the 110th Congress it was to force a rapid withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.  Through use of a veto strategy the minority was able to defeat the majority’s top agenda item.

A presidential veto threat is a powerful legislative tool for a very good reason – only one-third of either chamber must sustain the veto for the president to succeed.  It is even more powerful when the president has a written commitment of a sufficient number of members to guarantee a veto will be sustained. This is exactly what happened when the Democratic majority tried to force the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

H.R. 1591, as passed by the House and Senate in April 2007, included a provision calling for the withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.  The majority party had hoped that by attaching the troop withdrawal provision to a $124.2 billion war supplemental spending bill, that the president would sign the bill anyway.  “A veto,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, “means denying our troops the resources and the strategy that they need.”[xx]

There was no calling the president’s bluff.  Bush was already assured his veto would be sustained.  Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) had gathered enough signatures on a letter to guarantee the president’s veto would be sustained.  In an April 2, 2007 news release, Boehner said, “American troops deserve a clean bill without extraneous and unnecessary spending and free of strings that undermine their mission.”[xxi]  The 154 signatures were well over the one-third of the House required to sustain a veto.

The President sent a veto message to the House calling H.R. 1591 unconstitutional because “it purports to direct the conduct of the operations of the war in a way that infringes upon the powers vested in the presidency by the Constitution.” On May 2,  the House attempted an override of the veto and failed 222-203.[xxii]  The Democrats abandoned their efforts to force a deadline for U.S. combat troop withdrawal from Iraq, and passed a clean funding bill on May 10, 2007, which President Bush signed.

The Democrats held the vote to override the President’s veto, knowing they would be unsuccessful, as a face saving effort to repair the political damage done with those who voted to give them a majority to end the Iraqi war.  By holding the vote the majority party demonstrated to their supporters that they had gone as far as they could with their most important agenda item – and that was true enough, since a determined Republican minority had defeated their efforts and still remained in control of the agenda on the war.

Energy Policy: Procedural Disruption

By using procedural tactics and other forms of protest, a determined minority can frustrate the majority and try to gather enough attention to win the battle of ideas in the public square.  And, if they can sway public opinion, then force the majority to respond to their demands. This was the only remaining tactic available to the minority during the debate over offshore oil drilling in the summer of 2008.

In July 2008, the average national price for a gallon of gasoline peaked at $4.17 per gallon.[xxiii]  The public was angry and demanded action from Congress. The majority party was working on legislative solutions to address climate change and alternative fuels while seeking to avoid offending the environmentalists in their coalition who opposed domestic oil drilling.  At the same time, the minority seized the issue of the domestic supply and production of oil.  Specifically, Republicans advocated increased drilling for oil as a means of increasing US energy supplies, which would, in their view, lower prices and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Republicans wanted to amend an energy bill, H.R. 6515, to lift the prohibition on offshore drilling for oil.  H.R. 6515, known as the use-it-or-lose-it bill, would require energy companies to develop their existing leases or lose them.  The Democrats, however, decided to block Republican efforts to use the motion to recommit by bringing up H.R. 6515 under a procedure known as suspension of the rules.  This procedure is normally reserved for non-controversial legislation.  When a bill is considered under suspension of the rules, it is debated for forty minutes, evenly divided between proponents and opponents, and is not amendable.  A motion to recommit is not in order. The bill must receive, however, a two-thirds vote in favor of suspending the normal rules to be successful.

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Nick Rahall II (D-WV) explained that the majority used this procedure because “I don’t want to see a drilling amendment or a motion to recommit.”  The minority remained united, and the majority twice failed to get the two-thirds necessary to pass the bill.[xxiv]  With no prospect for a special rule that would allow an amendment, and with the majority using aggressive tactics to foreclose the possibility of a motion to recommit with instructions, the minority had no practical recourse to influence the final outcome.  So, it resorted to procedural warfare.

Through the months of June and July, the minority resorted to procedural tactics to slow down the processes of the House.  This included using privileged motions that occupied the House’s time with meaningless roll call votes. A member making a privileged motion can take precedence over the business on the Floor. For instance, a motion to adjourn is a privileged motion that requires the House to stop and vote on the motion.  This is a delaying tactic made by the minority to protest against actions perceived as unfair or oppressive.  These tactics are, however, more annoying than effective.

At the time, two legal provisions prevented offshore oil drilling – one imposed by Congress and one imposed by the Executive branch. The first was a provision originally passed by Congress in the FY 1982 Interior Appropriations bill that prohibited new leases off the coast of California.  It had been renewed each year and expanded over the years to include bans on the other coastal areas of the United States.  Congress included this rider for 26 years from 1982 to 2008.  The rider, however, was never authorized in law, so it only remained in effect for the fiscal year covered by the appropriations bill.[xxv] The second was a moratorium imposed through presidential executive order issued by George H.W. Bush and renewed by President Clinton. In July 2008 President Bush issued a new executive order lifting the presidential moratorium on offshore drilling.  Since the Interior Appropriations rider remained in effect, this had little effect other than to increase public pressure on the Democrats to allow offshore oil drilling.[xxvi]

The minority decided to target the appropriations rider and looked for any opportunity to offer a motion to recommit where their instructions would be germane.  Speaker Pelosi, however, dug her heels in, promising to block any Republican legislative maneuver to include ending the ban on offshore drilling.[xxvii]  Then, when Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House for the annual August recess without voting on the GOP’s energy proposal, the minority protested by remaining in the chamber.  The Republicans continued to speak.  The Speaker shut off their microphones.  Next, she refused to allow C-Span to broadcast.  Finally, she had the lights turned out in the chamber.  Instead of leaving, Republican Members returned to the chamber to join the protest.  Since the House was not in session, Republicans filled the empty seats in the chamber with staff.[xxviii]  For the next four weeks, Republicans occupied the darkened chamber.  They called on the Speaker to recall the Congress and pass an energy bill.  “Republicans will be shedding light on the issue,” said a flashlight-bearing Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC).[xxix]

Indeed, Republicans had found a way to shine a light on the issue.  In a poll released on August 11, pollster Scott Rasmussen reported nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) now supported offshore oil drilling and nearly half (42 percent) thought it would have the biggest impact of any action Congress could take to reduce gas prices.[xxx] When Congress returned from the recess, the Democrats scrambled for ways to protect vulnerable members by offering legislation to allow drilling in certain circumstances. But the protest had accomplished its main goal: On September 23, the Democratic leadership under pressure from their own Members, announced that they would let the offshore drilling ban expire, handing the minority its number one agenda goal on energy policy.[xxxi]

Looking Ahead to the 116th Congress

The Constitution provides that every American citizen shall be represented in Congress through his or her elected representative.  Theoretically, this means the voice of every American will be heard in the legislature.  Citizens are not guaranteed that Congress will adopt laws and budgets that they approve of – that will be determined by the majority – but the Constitution provides them representation at the table.  While the House majority has the right to pursue its policy objectives, the intent behind the Constitution is that the minority has a right to be heard.

House rules should provide procedures that enable it to function in an orderly manner.  If the majority ignores regular order to silence the minority and suppress their meaningful participation the legislative process, the minority has no stake in the orderly function of the House and has little recourse but to resort to procedural warfare to make its voice heard.  A majority must consider whether using oppressive tactics is in its own best interests.  Despite the majority party’s strong-armed procedural tactics, a determined minority in the 110th Congress defeated significant policy objectives of the majority and proactively advance priorities of their own agenda.  The minority accomplished this on important issues, such as the War in Iraq, immigration, terrorism and energy policy.

This is not to naively suggest that a majority should abandon the control provided by the Rules Committee.  Special rules allow the majority to facilitate the consideration of legislation, play traffic cop for committee jurisdictional disputes, maintain a schedule and prioritize consideration of legislation.  These roles are needed and can even occasionally benefit the minority.  However, the oppressive use of special rules had the unintended consequences of providing purpose and unity to the minority while splitting the majority. Precisely this happened in the 110th Congress.  The Republicans often thwarted the Democrats, who had actually intended to restrict their GOP colleagues.  The result was a House where a determined majority was unable to work its will.

Today, the Republicans find themselves in a similar position to where they were in the 110th Congress.  The party breakdowns in the 116th and 110th Congresses are roughly the same, the GOP controlled the White House. The greatest difference is that today, the GOP controls the Senate. Given the power dynamics in Washington, if the GOP would like to win any victories, they will need to remain united and use the scant parliamentary tools at their disposal to divide the majority Democrats.  As in the 110th Congress, motions to recommit, discharge petitions, veto sustaining, and general procedural disruption will be potent ways to win.

The tools at the Republicans’ disposal have varying prospects for success and different potential payoffs.  Since the Republicans control the Senate, sustaining presidential vetoes will be easy.  Successfully using motions to recommit and discharge petitions will be more difficult, but potentially more valuable, since they would undermine Democratic unity and allow the Republicans to proactively score policy wins within the House, as opposed to relying on the checks from the Executive Branch or the Senate.  The chances of success and payoff of general procedural disruption are harder to predict, but as the case of the August 2008 sit-in shows, the tactic is potentially effective.

If the Democratic majority wishes to forestall potentially disruptive tactics in 2019 and 2020, they could ratchet down the abuses of House procedure that both parties have perpetrated since the 1970s.  Earlier this year, one of the first actions of the 116th Congress was creating the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which was given the task of recommending ways to make the Legislative Branch more effective.  To truly do so, the Select Committee should recommend that Floor procedure be liberalized, especially by allowing more opportunities to amend legislation, which will provide the minority party an incentive to ensure the House operates in an orderly way.  Even if the Democrats lose some debates on the Floor, restoring regular order to the House would be a significant achievement in itself.  Or the majority could retain the status quo and face more legislative disruption for the next two years.  It is their choice: For whatever power the minority has, the majority rules.

Mark Strand is the President of the Congressional Institute. The Sausage Factory blog is a Congressional Institute project dedicated to explaining parliamentary procedure, Congressional politics, and other issues pertaining to the Legislative Branch.

 

[1] Donald Wolfensberger, “The Motion to Recommit in the House: The Creation, Evisceration, and Restoration of a Minority Right” (paper presented at a conference on the History of Congress, University of California, San Diego, December 5-6, 2003).

[2] Walter Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process (Washington DC: CQ Press, 2007), 9.

[3] Keith Krehbiel and Adam Meirowitz, “Minority Rights and Majority Power: Theoretical Consequences of the Motion to Recommit,” Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2 (May, 2002) 211

[4] Davidson, 4-5

[i] Roger H Davidson and Walter J Oleszek, Congress and Its Members (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2008).

[ii] Walter Oleszek, Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process (Washington DC: CQ Press, 2007), 9

[iii] The loss of three special elections resulted in the Democratic majority growing to a 236-199 majority over the course of the 110th Congress.

[iv] U.S. Congress, Congressional Research Service, “The Motion to Recommit in the House of Representatives: Effects and Recent Trends,” RL 34757, January 24, 2011, Congressional Research Service, by Megan Suzanne Lynch. Text at EveryCRSReport: https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/20110124_RL34757_7adb9cb31fddce4694ee89182a6c655e4676da6c.pdf. Accessed February 25, 2019.

[v] A committee can theoretically report the legislation again, but it would not waste time reporting the same measure without changes.

[vi] “Imams Narrow Target of “Does”,” The Washington Times, March 30, 2007.

[vii] Audrey Hudson, “Democrats Aim to Change House Rule used by GOP,” The Washington Times, March 29, 2007. A06

[viii]  “’John Doe’ Back in Terror Fight.” Investors Business Daily, August 3, 2007.  Retrieved online November 22, 2008.

[ix] Gary Andres, “Outdone Dems; GOP Minority Keeps Winning.” The Washington Times, Op-ed, Politics in the City, March 29, 2007.  A19

[x] Paul Kane, “Freshmen Padding Their Independence; Procedural Votes Becoming Safe Nays,” The Washington Post, December 26, 2008, p. A19. Suburban edition.

[xi] Davidson, 255

[xii] Kenneth Shepsie and Barry Weingast, “The Institutional Foundations of Committee Power,” The American Political Science Review, Vol. 81, No. 1 (March, 1987), 85, 89-9

[xiii] Richard Beth, “The Discharge Rule in the House: Principal Features and Uses,” Congressional Research Service, Report 97-552 GOV, January 30, 2003.

[xiv] The House changed this provision of the motion to discharge in the 116th Congress. Now, after the petition receives 218 signatures, a signatory must notify the House that he or she intends to make a motion to discharge. The Speaker must schedule a time to consider the motion within two legislative days of the announcement.

[xv] Oleszek, 143-4

[xvi] Thomas: Library of Congress Online Database (accessed November 22, 2008); available from http://thomas.loc.gov

[xvii] Steven Dennis, “Border Bill Turns Up the Heat,” Roll Call, March 24, 2008

[xviii] U.S. Congress. House. Discharge Petition No. 5, 110th Congress, 2nd session. http://clerk.house.gov/110/Lrc/Pd/Petitions/Dis5.htm. Accessed February 25, 2019.

[xix] Molly Hooper, “Discharge Petition Pressure Produces Promise,” CQ Today Print Edition, April 4, 2008.

[xx] David Gregory. “Bush Vetoes War Funding Bill, but Fight Isn’t Over.” NBC News. May 1, 2007. Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18424299/ns/nbc_nightly_news_with_brian_williams/t/bush-vetoes-war-funding-bill-fight-isnt-over/#.XHQKCVNKjUJ. Accessed February 25, 2019.

[xxi] U.S. Rep. John Boehner, House Republicans’ Letter to President Bush Pledges to Sustain Presidential Veto, April 2, 2008, http://johnboehner.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=71539 (November 21, 2008).

[xxii] Susan Ferrechio and David Clark, “House Fails to Override Bush Veto of ‘Unconstitutional’ Spending Bill,” CQ Today, May 2, 2007.

[xxiii] Rebecca Adams, “Gusher of a Debate,” CQ Weekly, September 8, 2008. p. 2366

[xxiv] Coral Davenport and Aliya Sternstein, “Stymied on Offshore Drilling, Republicans Block Bills in Both Chambers, CQ Today Print Edition, July 17, 2008

[xxv] Marc Humphries, “Outer Continental Shelf: Debate Over Oil and Gas Leasing and Revenue Sharing,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Report: RL33493, September 17, 2008.

[xxvi] Steven Lee Meyers and Carl Hulse, “Bush Lifts Drilling Moratorium, Prodding Congress,” New York Times, July 14, 2008

[xxvii] David Rogers, “Pelosi: ‘I’m trying to save the planet,’” Politico, July 29, 2008.

[xxviii] Jim Mills, GOP Sit-In on the House Floor, The Hill, August 1, 2008

[xxix] Catherine Richert, Flashlights in Hand, Republicans Continue Energy Protest, CQ Today Online News, August 25, 2008

[xxx] Scott Rasmussen, “64% Now Support Offshore Drilling; 42% See it as Best Way to Reduce Oil Prices.” August 11, 2008. Retrieved online from http://www.rasmussenreports.com on November 23, 2008.

[xxxi] Paul Kane, “House Democrats to Let Ban on Drilling Expire,” Washington Post, September 24, 2008, A02.

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