House Dems seek delay in transportation/energy bill after process change

They also noted that because members have submitted amendments to the single transportation bill, H.R. 7, splitting the bill up into three separate measures would confuse the process. As a result, they asked for the planned Tuesday meeting to establish a rule for the three bills to be delayed "until we can agree upon a fair process for all Members."

Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and committee members Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) signed the letter.

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Despite the complaint, Republicans appeared to be on track to go ahead with the 5 p.m. meeting to approve the rule, and were likely to argue that splitting up the transportation bill would not threaten the transparency of the process in any way.

One House staffer rejected the idea that the amendment process would become more confusing, and said Republicans would make every effort to ensure that an amendment prepared for a section of the big bill could be offered at the appropriate time when the three separate measures are considered. He also said Republicans would work to ensure amendments can be considered without forcing members to re-draft them.

"This legislation will be brought to the floor in separate pieces, the same way they came out of committee," said Rules Committee Deputy Communications Director Doug Andres. "It's clear that Democrats prefer the old way of business — large 'comprehensive' bills with less debate and limited opportunity to offer amendments.

"Issues as large and complex as this come with challenges but we are going the extra mile to ensure members are not disadvantaged and will not have to redraft amendments. When they need to, we are doing our best to work with them."

Earlier in the day, Dreier and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued that splitting the bill up would actually improve transparency.

"Republicans pledged to pass bills in a more transparent manner and reverse the era of quickly moving massive bills across the floor without proper examination," they wrote. "Accordingly, the energy/infrastructure jobs plan will be considered on the floor in the same manner in which it was written and voted upon in committee — in separate pieces, allowing each major component of the plan to be debated and amended more openly, rather than as a single 'comprehensive' bill with limited debate and limited opportunity for amendment."

In addition to considering H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs act, the House will also consider two pieces of that bill as separate legislation. One is H.R. 3813, the Securing Annuities for Federal Employees act, which would require federal workers to contribute more to their own retirement.

The second is H.R. 3408, which is aimed at facilitating the production of oil shale within the U.S.