The terms “open rule,” “structured rule” and “modified open-rule” don’t mean much to people who don’t toil on Capitol Hill.
But those phrases speak volumes if you want to understand how House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., finally ascended to the Speaker’s suite after a raucous five days of balloting in the Speaker’s race.
Most major pieces of legislation to hit the House floor require a “rule.” The powerful House Rules Committee establishes how the House will debate any given piece of legislation. The Rules Committee sets time limits for debate on the bill and if any amendments are in order.
For years, under both Republican and Democratic control, the House Rules Committee often locked down bills which came to the House floor. Very few bills hit the House floor with the opportunity for rank-and-file members to offer amendments.
But most lawmakers prefer a more “open” process. That allows them to have their say on the House floor.
However, if the Rules Committee – usually under the direction of the Speaker – says no amendments or only a few,