On Friday and the GOP in Utah decided to break the rules of government in the state House of Representatives in order to push through legislation (HCR 11 and 12) that would recommend to Trump to erase Bears Ears National Monument designation and dramatically reduce the size of Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. How? The House Rules Committee on Friday acted as a standing committee on the legislation instead of holding a public committee hearing as required by the rules of the House in order to rush the to concurrent resolutions. Then on Monday the House floor voted 55-17 to say, in essence, that breaking the rules of governance is a-okay. The result of these actions is that the two resolutions passed the House vote without a public committee hearing.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch held a Senate Finance Committee meeting with relatively little public notice to approve two of Donald Trump’s most hotly debated cabinet nominees: Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Democrats had boycotted for the second day, leaving the committee without the single Democrat required for the committee to take votes. However, Chairman Orrin Hatch held a vote to suspend the rules and vote on the nominees anyway without the required quorum of Democrats voting. By all accounts, this was a virtually unprecedented step. Senator Hatch said the maneuver was approved by the Senate Parliamentarian.
- What rationale did Senate Republicans claim for suspending the rules for Cabinet confirmations? They said it was okay because the obstructions put in place by committee Democrats was unprecedented. However, this is untrue. Republicans boycotted the committee hearing for then-President Obama’s second EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in 2013 in exactly the same way. Furthermore, committee Democrats boycotted because both nominees had lied under oath during their Senate hearings. By suspending the rules of government, Chairman Hatch denied Democrats the ability to question the nominees further about these lies.
- What rationale did our Utah representatives use for breaking the rules on Bears Ears and Escalante? They said that HCR 11 and 12 required expedience in order to convince Donald Trump to follow the demands of the resolution and the will of the Utah people. But polls show that the will of the Utah people does not support the demands in the resolutions, and rather stand behind the new monument designation at Bears Ears and also behind Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument.
Suspending and breaking the rules of government removes key checks and balances, such as objecting to bills that don’t reflect the desires of the majority of people represented and resisting the nomination of corrupt and compromised individuals to key Cabinet positions. Suspending agreed-upon rules whenever it is convenient for the majority party, no matter which party that is, is a dangerous precedent and makes a travesty of representative government.
CALL TO ACTION
- Contact our Utah Senators! Text or email the members of the state Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee BEFORE 2pm TODAY when they hear HCR 12 (Escalante-Grand Staircase) in committee. Call the members of Senate Natural Resources Agriculture and Environment Committee BEFORE 4:15 TODAY when they hear HCR 11 (Bears Ears) in committee. Tell these Senators that you condemn the House’ actions in breaking the rules, that you believe in the value and importance of democratic process and that you oppose these measures.
- Contact our U.S. congressional representatives! Call Senator Orrin Hatch TODAY to tell him you disapprove of his actions and the actions of GOP membership in suspending established approval committee rules to force through Cabinet nominees. Call all of our congressional representatives to tell them you don’t support suspending the rules of government. To find your congressional representatives, click here.
Senate Business and Labor Standing Committee
- Sen. Curtis S. Bramble (R), Chair – 801-361-5802, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. J. Stuart Adams (R) – email@example.com
- Sen. Gene Davis (D) – 801-647-8924, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Deidre M. Henderson (R) – 801-787-6197, email@example.com
- Sen. Karen Mayne (D) – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R), Senate sponsor of HCR 12 – 435-979-7077, email@example.com
- Sen. Todd Weiler (R) – 801-599-9823, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Natural Resources Agriculture and Environment Committee
- Sen. Scott K. Jenkins, Chair – 801-707-7095, email@example.com
- Sen. Allen M. Christensen (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Margaret Dayton (R) – email@example.com
- Sen. Jani Iwamoto (D) – 801-580-8414, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Peter C. Knudson (R) – 435-730-2026, email@example.com
- Sen. Brian E. Shiozawa (R) – 801-889-7450, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sen. Evan J. Vickers (R) – 435-817-5565, email@example.com
Senator Orrin Hatch – D.C. (202) 224-5251, UT (435) 586-8435
Senator Mike Lee – D.C. (202) 224-5444, UT (801) 392-9633