Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Donna McAleer

When Rob Bishop ran for re-election in 2012, one of the reasons used in his campaign was that of seniority — influence for Utah in the House that would be lost were he not re-elected. The voters of the 1st Congressional District took him at his word and placed their faith in him by re-electing him to the 113th Congress. How has Rob Bishop repaid that faith?

Rob Bishop is a member of four influential committees in the House; one of them is the House Committee on Rules. His website contains the following information: "The Committee on Rules is amongst the oldest standing committees in the House, having been first formally constituted on April 2, 1789. The Committee is commonly known as ‘The Speaker’s Committee’ because it is the mechanism that the Speaker uses to maintain control of the House Floor, and was chaired by the Speaker until 1910. Because of the vast power wielded by the Rules Committee, its ratio has traditionally been weighted in favor of the majority party, and has been in its ‘2 to 1 1’ (9 majority and 4 minority members) configuration since the late 1970s. . . . The Committee has the authority to do virtually anything during the course of consideration of a measure, including deeming it passed. The Committee can also include a self- executed amendment which could rewrite just parts of a bill, or the entire measure. In essence, so long as a majority of the House is willing to vote for a special rule, there is little that the Rules Committee cannot do."

Pretty powerful and impressive, and certainly looks like the constituents of Utah’s 1st District got their vote’s worth. Or did they?

On October 12, 2013, Representative Chris Van Hollen, (D-MD), took to the floor to clarify a vote taken by the Rules Committee on September 30. A vote on HR 368. A video of his speech, 5:17 minutes long, has been posted on YouTube and can be seen at

The first four minutes of the video are dry, repeatedly focusing on the details of parliamentary procedure about that September 30 vote, and it is in those details that lay the devil. Representative Van Hollen’s point becomes clear beginning at about 4:10 into his speech where he states to the presiding House official, "The Rules Committee under the Rules of the House changed the standing rules of the House to take away the right of any member to move to a vote to open the government and gave that right exclusively to the Republican leader. Is that right?" Speak Pro Tem Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) confirmed, "The House adopted that resolution."

By changing the rules on Sept. 30, House Republicans with the support of Utah’s Rep Bishop, essentially guaranteed a government shutdown, since the ability to invoke the mentioned rule was transferred entirely to House Majority leader Eric Cantor, R-VA or his designate. No other member of the House could move to vote to open the government.

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Rob Bishop said he would use his seniority to help the citizens of Northern Utah. Instead, in a cynical and brutal example of placing the interests of the party before that of the people who elected him, Rob Bishop voted to change procedural rules in the House in a way that guaranteed the government would be shut down and stay shut down—a vote that has taken money out of the wallets of working families, WIC food away from mothers and children in need, closed our five National Parks and service centers, and helped make our nation the laughing stock of the world.

The voters believed that Rob Bishop would use the power of his seniority to help them. And he repaid their faith by betraying them.

Donna McAleer is a congressional candidate for Utah’s 1st District, Army Veteran, Author and Mother. Visit