Getting back to governing
Last September, one of us (Spulak) co-authored an op-ed with George Crawford, another former Democratic staff director of the House Rules Committee, suggesting a simple, one-step way “to fix” Congress: “Free the House Rules Committee” (Politico, Sept. 19, 2018). By loosening the ties between the majority leadership and the committee, they argued, the House could return to the days when Congress worked — “when debate mattered and compromise existed.”
In October, the other author of this piece (Wolfensberger), published a book that proposed a new, yet old, method of putting Congress back on track: embrace a culture of big-picture governing in which the House would first debate the overall nature of a major problem, and possible solutions to it, before sending the issue to the appropriate committee with instructions to work out the details (“Changing Cultures in Congress: From Fair Play to Power Plays”).
As former staff directors of the Rules Committee from opposing parties, we think these two approaches, when combined, present a clear path for the House to both re-engage individual members and the American public in the important business of governing in the national interest. And, given the flip in party control of the House in last Tuesday’s midterm elections, there could be no better time or opportunity to try a new approach to governing.