GUIDE FOR EXPERT USERS

 

 

The Rules Committee


We Run The House only deals with bills that go through the Rules Committee. This is because bills that pass through the House of Representatives using the other main mechanism (which is called a Suspension) are non-controversial so they virtually always pass. Leadership will only use a Suspension when they know a bill has bipartisan support because a Suspension needs a two-thirds majority to pass. Using a Suspension is easier than putting a bill through the Rules Committee but when a bill is put through the Rules Committee it only needs a fifty percent majority to pass.

There are only a few bills that go through the Rules Committee every month but when they are announced they can move through the Rules Committee and get scheduled for a vote on the house floor within a matter of days so you must act quickly. Because of this time constraint we ask you to vote on the bill and suggest any amendments within 24 hours of receiving the notification from admin.  Most bills are less than twenty pages long but it is wise to also read the bill report since things like earmarks are included in there. Useful summaries of the bill are contained in the report. The report usually contains a section on “dissenting views” which is a good read.

 

You will receive notifications for all bills that are active in the Rules Committee but most of them won't apply to your particular area of expertise.  You may choose to only read bills that come from a certain committee of jurisdiction such as the Science and Technology committee.  Here is a list of committees in the House: https://www.house.gov/committees.  You will be told which committee the bill came from when you are notified about a bill.  However you are not limited to commenting in a subject area.  All experts can comment on any subject in the expert forums.  

 

In the notification you receive about a bill you will be notified of an amendment deadline or a meeting date and time.  If you have been alerted of an amendment deadline the meeting may not have been scheduled and you may wish to keep an eye out on https://rules.house.gov for the meeting date and time.  You will be able to replay the meeting at any time on that site.  Some bills do not get amendment deadlines but you can still suggest amendments for them in anticipation of the meeting.  Admin will update the post relating to the bill in the Issues tab of our website with information about meetings, amendments and more.

 

If you have any questions regarding a bill please give the office of the majority for the Rules Committee a call.  This number changes depending on which party is in the majority so it is best to call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.  The bill was probably written in a committee, so you may want to ask which committee wrote the bill so you can give the committee a call with your questions.

 

It is also extremely important to follow the twelve appropriations bills that get passed every year in Congress, which determine federal spending.  We will notify you when the hearings are scheduled in the twelve subcommittees where they are originated, so you can follow them from an early stage in their development.  We track these bills from an earlier stage because they are too long to read over the course of a few days and because they are guaranteed to get a vote on the house floor.  Hearings for these bills are all held in February and March and the mark-ups (which are the final versions of the bill as they are presented to the Rules Committee) are all published in April and May of each year.  

 

We will forward summaries of your votes, comments and suggested amendments to the Legislative Directors of all members of Congress; to the mainstream media; and to our mailing list of people associated with most political action groups in the U.S.  Also, our national community of constituents will be relying on your guidance when they vote on bills and amendments.


Suggest an Amendment

We Run The House has a mechanism to allow constituents to act collectively to get an amendment added to a bill. Amendments are initially suggested by our experts. If you want to suggest an amendment you go to the bill post for the bill and make sure you enter a first-tier comment (i.e. not a comment on a comment.) You must begin your comment with the following word “AMENDMENT:” Don’t forget to use all caps and remember that the rest of your comment must not be in all caps. Your peers will vote on the amendment and if an amendment is popular enough it will be recommended within the Issues tab so that regular users can vote on it. We then deliver the number of votes from people in each district to District Leaders so that they can lobby their congressperson.

 

It is very important that after you have created a new Amendment or Discharge Petition you send the link to it to admin so it will be monitored.


Start a Discharge Petition

You are not limited to discussing bills that are passing through the house. You can suggest your own bill. Possibly the most exciting thing about our platform is that we give constituents the tools to gather signatures for a Discharge Petition, which is used by coalitions of congresspersons to side-step party leadership and get a bill onto the house floor for a vote. If you choose to start a Discharge Petition please post it in the appropriate expert forum and begin your post with the words “DISCHARGE PETITION:” Don’t forget to use all caps and remember that the rest of your comment must not be in all caps. Once again, if it receives enough support from experts it will be passed through to the Issues tab so that regular members can vote on it and District Leaders across the United States can lobby their Congressperson to sign the petition.

 

If you feel strongly that the federal government should be building or rehabilitating a highway, airport, bridge, power station etc., you can start a discharge petition for infrastructure.   The title of your group must start with the words “DISCHARGE PETITION (INFRASTRUCTURE IN [STATE]):”  Again, don’t forget to use all caps and remember that the rest of your title must not be in all caps.  

 

You need to spell out the main points that you think the bill that is the subject of the discharge petition, should contain.  Keep in mind that eventually you will have to ask a congressperson's staff to write it.  

 

If you like a Discharge Petition that has been suggested by another expert but you think it could be improved upon you can add an amendment. The process is the same as before. Make sure that the amendment is inserted as a first-tier comment and begin the post with the word “AMENDMENT:” Don’t forget to use all caps and remember that the rest of your comment must not be in all caps.

 

Find Expert Events

 

You can browse and create events exclusively targeted at Experts, in your events tab. When creating an event you must first reveal the location of the event by beginning the Event Name with the following words: "(TOWN), (STATE):" Don’t forget to use all caps and remember that the rest of the Event Name must not be in all caps.

 

Expert Profile Links to District

 

Please note that your expert profile will allow you to act as a constituent within the pages that are dedicated to your district.  You do not need a separate regular member profile in order to access this functionality.

 

Use Groups to have Discussions with your Peers

 

Scroll to the Bottom of any page and find the link to the "Groups" page in the footer.  Click on "Create a group."  Name your group e.g. "Nuclear Physicists."  Set "View privacy" to "all group members."  Set "Approve members" to "New members must be approved."  Set "Category" to "Expert Group."  Upload a photo, invite your peers and begin a discussion .. voila!