On January 3, 2019, members of the House of Representatives were sworn in as mandated in the Constitution. As the new year begins and a new Congress begins work, this is a great time to review the U.S. House of Representatives Policy Circle brief, which reminds us that “The House is run by majority rule. When a majority of members vote to do something in the House, it gets done. Majority rule makes passing legislation relatively efficient, and that means that the party in the minority has little power to set the agenda or pass its proposals. By contrast, in the Senate chamber, a single senator – in the majority or the minority – can generally force a vote or stop a bill in its tracks.”
Here is the new leadership for majority and minority parties in the 116th Congress, and a history of house leadership over the years. This WSJ piece introduces the new committee chairs while this Brookings article talks about the makeup of the freshman class. The U.S. Senate remains in Republican hands, while the U.S. House is led by the Democrat majority. What are the implications on policy making? Will it be a year of gridlock? What challenges does the new House leadership face as they set priorities for the new session?
And most importantly, what can you do? First, make sure you know your representative. It’s easy. Visit House.gov, enter your zip code to display the name and contact information for your representative in the 116th Congress. You can also read about them on www.ballotpedia.com. Second, scan over how they have voted with a resource like www.countable.com and read up on current issues from your favorite news source, making sure you get perspectives from across the spectrum (a start would be skimming through the New York Times and Wall Street Journal). Then, speak up and share your views. That’s what our representative republic depend upon.