When Paul Ryan took over as Speaker of the House in 2015, he promised that things would be different when it came to legislating.
"We're not going to bottle up the process so much and predetermine the outcome of everything around here," he said at the time, committing to a process that would be "more open, more inclusive, more deliberative, more participatory."
But now, two years later, Ryan's House Rules Committee has basically done the opposite, setting a record for the most closed rules in a single session. To date, they've now shut down open debate about more than 1,300 amendments to proposed legislation a whopping 49 times.
The open rule, which allows members of Congress to proposes changes during a debate on the floor, has never been ignored so widely in modern history, and opponents say that it endangers democracy.
While it may be helpful for Republicans looking to pass legislation without much drama, the stifling of debate could prove disastrous.
"The Republican Majority has now made history for all the wrong reasons," Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat who sits on the House Rules Committee said in a statement on Tuesday. "Under Speaker Ryan’s leadership, this session of Congress has now become the most closed Congress in history."
Justin Amash, an ultra-conservative representative from Michigan agreed, and slammed Ryan for it.
"When we offer amendments, they have to be approved by leadership before we get a vote on them and that’s not how our system is supposed to work," he argued. "Our system was designed to reflect the will of the people... And the speaker’s job is to ensure the system is open and [lawmakers] are given a fair opportunity to present their amendments."
But in a press conference Tuesday morning, Ryan didn't agree with the negative assessment, telling reporters, "We absolutely have an open process. We’re going through the committee process. All these bills are going through the committee."
"Open process my foot," said Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts in response. "I guess in the age of Donald Trump words simply don’t matter anymore. Black is white. Up is down. Open is closed. And politicians can say whatever they think sounds good and think they can get away with it — facts be damned."
Still, members of Congress would like to see things be more open, including Republican Morgan Griffith of Virginia who told Politico, "Let’s fight it out. If the idea can win on the floor then that’s what the American people want. That’s what the representative government is about."
Twitter isn't very impressed with Ryan's new record:
Wisconsin voters are coming for you, Ryan:
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