The Speaker Project

Introducing The Speaker Project

By Emma Petasis
June 1, 2018 | Blog

In a suspenseful and uncertain election year, here’s one thing that’s certain: The U.S. House will elect a new speaker in January 2019.

That provides a generational opportunity for citizens to demand changes to outdated and archaic House rules that often make the consideration and passage of bipartisan legislation impossible. In the coming months, a relatively small group of House members could band together to demand significant rules changes as a condition of supporting any speaker nominee. It’s a battle they could take right to the House floor when the speaker vote happens next year.

This is precisely what happened almost 100 years ago, when a group of Progressive Republicans held up a speaker election for nine ballots in 1923 to force rules changes.

A messy floor fight in January 2019 certainly isn’t the preferred option. But it may be necessary if prospective House leaders refuse change.

The Speaker Project is much more than a well-intended list of reform ideas. It is the beginning of a grassroots campaign that will continue through January 2019. No Labels is mobilizing citizens to make their vote for any House candidate contingent on that candidate’s support for a speaker nominee who will commit to real rules changes that provide an opening for bipartisan ideas and legislation.

No Labels certainly doesn’t expect every, or even most, ideas in The Speaker Project to be implemented in the next Congress. But substantive reform of some kind should be non-negotiable for any American who cares about reversing this dysfunction in Washington.

At first glance, electing a new speaker and changing House rules may not seem like an issue that compels people to want to march in the streets.

But it should.

Many critical issues people care about: deficits and entitlements, crime and criminal justice, immigration and border security, our schools, our infrastructure—whatever it is, won’t be fixed until we change these rules.

The Speaker Project campaign won’t be easy and the members of Congress who support it may do so at significant political risk. These rule changes are a major threat to the entrenched interests who like the status quo just fine. But there is no other choice.

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