House GOP considers constitutional test for all new legislation

House GOP transition team leaders will recommend a change to the lower chamber's rules that would require all members to prove that their legislation is constitutional.

GOP members who are leading the party's transition to the majority unveiled a series of changes they will implement in the 112th Congress on Thursday, with many mirroring promises made in the GOP's "Pledge to America."

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the head of the House Rules Working Group, on Thursday said the GOP transition team will recommend the adoption of a rule requiring lawmakers to provide constitutional authority for every bill.

“The Constitution is not that long. The operating manual for a Toyota Camry is more than five times longer, so it should not be that difficult,” Bishop said.

GOP leaders intended to send out a memo later Thursday providing guidance to members of the 112th Congress on how to deal with the new requirement, and suggest “resources they can go to to assist,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the transition team.

“The Constitution will suddenly become en vogue again” in the next House, Bishop said.

Bishop confirmed that the transition team will recommend adding term limits for committee chairmen to the House rules — a provision that was in place when Republicans were in power from 1995 to 2007.

But Walden said the transition team will not recommend similar term limits for House leadership members.

“There’s a term limit for those [leaders] … they get to go before their conference after the election,” Walden said at a briefing with leaders of several transition team sub-panels, including Bishop and Reps. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

Under the GOP-dominated House, the practice of using unrelated bills to move major measures will also come to an end, the transition leaders said.

“We are going to make sure that one issue comes up at a time,” Bishop said. “No longer will we marry totally separate issues on the same piece of legislation. So that if we are going to vote on college loans … it won’t be added to some separate legislation.”

A number of other rule changes are in the works — all bills and major amendments headed to the floor for a vote must be available online for a minimum of three days, and committees will have to announce mark-up meetings at least three days in advance so that the public knows they will happen, the Republicans said.