(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representative-elect Jamie Raskin (MD-08) is raising serious concerns about the House Republicans’ proposed rule changes for the 115th Congress. Members will vote on the House rules package, H. Res. 5, after they are sworn in on Tuesday, January 3rd. The Republicans’ proposed rules package would impose a number of significant changes, including a provision that would authorize the Sergeant-at-Arms to unilaterally exercise the House of Representatives’ power to punish Members--without any due process at all.
“From the first Congress in 1789, the full House and only the full House has exercised the power to punish, censure, and fine Members. But this rule for the first time proposes to delegate this constitutional power to punish Members to the Sergeant-at-Arms, who would be able to declare Members guilty of certain rules violations without any due process at all,” Raskin explained.
“Members could be fined $2,500 for doing or saying something that they consider protected under the Speech and Debate Clause by an administrative officer, who reports only to the House Speaker, without seeing any formal charges, without being afforded a hearing, and without even the opportunity to be heard. This power grab shreds the most basic notions of due process for legislators while transferring the constitutional power that belongs only to the House itself to an unelected official. Whoever wrote this rule has not thought it through. We must defeat it first thing on Tuesday.”
“The Republicans’ rule change authorizes the Sergeant-at-Arms to impose a $2,500 fine on Members of Congress who allegedly use photographic, audio, or visual recording devices in an improper way on the House floor. Article 1 of the Constitution clearly provides for punishment of Members of Congress, but it has historically required a vote by the full House of Representatives to do so. Republicans want to depart from two centuries of legal precedent to delegate this legislative authority to the Sergeant-at-Arms.”