House adopts transparency rules

Bills to be distributed three days in advance of consideration

The new Republican-led House has approved rules changes that create a new requirement for proposed legislation to be distributed to House members at least three calendar days in advance of a vote.

The rules package (House Resolution 5) was passed Jan. 5 on a party-line vote of 240-191.

Advocates for transparency said the new rules are helpful even though they do not go as far as anticipated.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders had previously said all proposed bills should be published online and available to the public 72 hours before a vote.


Related story:

House to vote on new transparency rules


Under the approved rules change, unreported legislation must instead be made available to House members at least three calendar days before a vote.

John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, said the modification is likely to provide almost as much transparency as the original language.

“It certainly is going to increase transparency,” Wonderlich said. “It does not say the bills will go online for the public, but if the bills go to the minority members for three days, it is hard to imagine they would not be placed online.”

House members routinely adopt new rules when convening every two years.

The rules package also allows lawmakers to bring electronic devices on the House floor, as long as their use doesn't impair decorum.

Other transparency changes include:

  • The House Administration Committee will set standards for how documents are made available online.
  • House committees must provide a week’s electronic notice to the public before hearings and three days' notice before meetings.
  • House committees must make legislation publicly available in electronic form at least 24 hours before being written up in final form during a committee markup meeting.
  • House committees must post all recorded votes online. Amendments adopted in committee must now be posted online within 24 hours.
  • House committees must broadcast their proceedings "to the maximum extent practicable."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

  • Comment
    Blue Signage and logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    Doing digital differently at VA

    The Department of Veterans Affairs CIO explains why digital transformation is not optional.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.