From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
 

House Democratic Leaders Send Letter to Hastert Urging Full and Fair Debate in Conference Committees

November 5, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the entire House Democratic Leadership sent a letter to Speaker Hastert today to object to the recent handling of conference committees. "We strongly urge you to convene formal conference meetings, and to allow a fair and open debate in the conference before legislation is reported to the House floor," the Democrats concluded in their letter.

The following is the full text of the letter:

November 5, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker,

We are writing to express our deep concern about the recent handling of conference reports in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Last week, the Conference Report on the FAA Authorization bill, H.R. 2115, was filed without a formal meeting of the conferees as required under Clause 12, Rule XXII, and long-standing House precedents. No conference meeting was held, no signature sheets were presented, and no copy of the bill was even given to the minority until well after the conference report was filed. This should never happen.

Mr. Speaker, by virtue of your office, you have the power to appoint conferees. Under House rules and precedents, a conference report must be the product of an actual meeting between the managers appointed by the two houses. Every Member of the conference should receive notice of meetings, be allowed to attend those meetings, and be provided a copy of the conference report to sign if he or she approves.

Conferences are one of the fundamental bedrocks of the democratic process in the House of Representatives. Yet in this Congress, long-standing rules and practices have been repeatedly overturned, and minority rights have been consistently denied. This reflects poorly on the institution and the Republican leadership.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, according to press reports, Members will have 3 days to read the conference report on Prescription Drugs before voting on the bill. We certainly hope that is the case, and we would expect the conference report to be shared with Democratic Members at the same time that it is available to Republican Members.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a partisan issue. The rules of the House are in place to protect majority and minority rights. When those rules and practices are ignored, the institution suffers. We strongly urge you to convene formal conference meetings, and to allow a fair and open debate in the conference before legislation is reported to the House floor.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
Steny Hoyer
Democratic Whip
Robert Menendez
Caucus Chair

James Clyburn
Caucus Vice-Chair

John Spratt
Assistant to the Democratic Leader
Martin Frost
Ranking Member, Rules Committee


 

 



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