Chair: Jim McGovern
0 Investigative Oversight Hearings
34 Policy/Legislative Hearings
45 Total HearingsLast updated: Dec. 2, 2021, 6:42 p.m.
Little known to the public, the Rules Committee is arguably one of the most powerful in the House. It controls any legislation reported out by another committee, determining such things as the debate time (if any), the number and types of amendments allowed (if any) on the House floor, etc. A highly partisan committee that works closely with the Speaker, it generally fashions its “rules” with the aim to help or obstruct a bill. As the committee boasts on its website, it “has the authority to do virtually anything during the course of consideration of a measure, including deeming it passed. The Committee can also…rewrite just parts of a bill, or the entire measure. In essence, so long as a majority of the House is willing to vote for a special rule, there is little that the Rules Committee cannot do.” There is no counterpart in the Senate. The committee has only 13 members, always skewed heavily toward the majority regardless of the makeup of the House (in recent Congresses, nine majority, four minority). It has three subcommittees: expedited procedures; legislative and budget process; and rules and organization of the House.
The committee’s hearings consist primarily of testimony arguing for and against major bills that have been approved by some other House committee, including the annual appropriations bills. The witnesses are typically the chair and ranking member of the reporting committee. It conducts no investigative oversight. From time to time it holds hearings on constitutional issues regarding relations between Congress and the executive branch, which may feature testimony from outside experts, and occasionally holds a hearing about proposed changes in the House rules, where members often testify. From the 112th to the 115th Congress (2011-2018), the committee had a fairly steady hearing schedule, with between 107 and 119 hearings each Congress. In the pandemic-shortened 116th Congress (2019-20), it held only 78. Given this lack of executive branch or private sector oversight, we do not give the committee a grade.
111th Congress: Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
112th Congress: David Dreier (R-CA)
113th Congress: Pete Sessions (R-TX)
114th Congress: Pete Sessions (R-TX)
115th Congress: Pete Sessions (R-TX)
116th Congress: Jim McGovern (D-MA)
117th Congress: Jim McGovern (D-MA)
We are 51% of the way through the 117th Congress
House Committee on Rules0 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 0% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]