Democratic Leaders Send Letter to Hastert Urging Full and Fair Debate
in Conference Committees
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
is the full text of the letter:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Assistant to the Democratic Leader
Ranking Member, Rules Committee