For months, Congress has tried and failed to pass bipartisan legislation to fund two priorities most Americans support:

  1. Securing our southern border; and
  2. Rushing critical aid to our allies in Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific

The Senate has managed to pass an aid bill with 70 votes, but the House hasn’t even held a vote yet.

Time is running out. As Washington dithers, as many as 10,000 undocumented immigrants are crossing our border every day, while our allies in Ukraine and Israel wonder if America will keep its promises to equip them to combat the evils of Putin and Hamas. It was just reported that House Speaker Mike Johnson plans to put a bill on the floor within the next week, but nothing is certain.

No Labels has called repeatedly for Congress to pass legislation that secures our border and supports our allies and broad bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate would vote for such a bill.

Unfortunately, House leadership has made decisions that have empowered a small group of extremists to stop legislation from moving.

  • It all began in January 2023 when Kevin McCarthy – in a bid to secure the House Speakership – gave three far-right members seats on the House Rules Committee, which determines which legislation gets voted on, how or if it can be amended or changed, and whether it can be considered on accelerated timelines. In short, there is very little the all-powerful Rules Committee can’t do.
  • Members on the Rules Committee are usually allies of the Speaker who help them run the House efficiently. In fact, before this Congress, a Speaker hadn’t failed to pass a Rules Committee vote in over two decades. But such votes have already failed six times in this Congress.
  • Now, current House Speaker Mike Johnson often can’t even get legislation out of the Rules Committee, which has forced him to advance legislation under a “suspension of the rules,” a procedure that requires two-thirds support of the entire Congress and rarely happens. In other words, Johnson has had to depend on Democratic votes to just get bills to the floor.
  • This has angered far-right lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who recently filed a “motion to vacate” Mike Johnson’s speakership. This motion is a procedural tool – that has only been used four times in the history of Congress – in which a single member of Congress can force a vote to remove a Speaker of the House from their position. It’s the same tool that was used to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year.

All of this is compounded by the fact that House Republicans have a one-seat majority – the smallest in history – giving outsized influence to any member who wants to make trouble.

If no action is taken on these major issues, No Labels’ allies Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Jared Golden are prepared to use a tool called a discharge petition – which only requires a bare majority of 218 votes – to force a vote on their own bipartisan proposal. A discharge petition is rare – it hasn’t been executed at all since 2015 – because it’s a direct challenge to the Speaker’s ability to control the House floor. But a discharge petition could be the only way to advance this bill since it only requires 218 votes, while moving a bill under the suspension of the rules requires a 290 vote (two-thirds) supermajority.

No Labels was a leading voice for getting rid of many of the House’s outdated procedures long before it was in vogue. We believe they have made the House impossible to govern and it’s why we called for reforming both the motion to vacate and the structure of the Rules Committee in our 2018 reform plan, The No Labels Speaker Project.

But rule reforms need to be done at the outset of a new Congress, so the only path forward for this critical bipartisan legislation is for Speaker Johnson and enough members of Congress to show the political courage to force a vote and to vote “yes.”

Passing this Ukraine/border bill is just the beginning of what needs to happen, however. In the next Congress, the House needs to pass rules – like those No Labels advocated for in The Speaker Project – that finally breaks the stranglehold of extremists on both sides.

The American people are counting on Washington to secure our border and support our allies and No Labels will be pushing with everything we have to ensure they get it done.