Conservative groups push Republican leaders to open up Defense bill | The Hill’s DEFCON Blog

By Jeremy Herb

A group of 11 conservative organizations are calling on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to keep the Defense Appropriations bill open to all amendments when it hits the floor.

The fiscal conservative groups wrote a letter to Boehner Monday urging him to allow an open bill on the floor, as House Republican leaders are weighing limiting amendments to the Pentagon spending bill.

The groups said that restricting amendments would break with Boehner’s pledge to follow regular order and allow open debate.

“You have indicated several times your preference for free and open debate on the floor,” wrote the groups, led by Taxpayers for Common Sense. “On behalf of our members and supporters we strongly urge you to maintain the traditional open rule and open amendment process for this important bill.”

The letter from conservative advocates is the latest lobbying push on the rule that will accompany the Defense spending bill — something that’s ordinarily mere parliamentary procedure but has become a significant fight with the Defense Appropriations measure.

House Republican leaders are considering limiting amendments because they are concerned about proposals to curtail President Obama’s options in Syria and Egypt or attempts to de-fund the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. If the bill is brought to the floor under a structured rule, the Rules Committee would approve all amendments that receive votes.

The House Rules Committee postponed its meeting on the rule last week over concerns that conservatives who want the Egypt, Syria and NSA amendments will join with Democrats to defeat the rule on the floor, in what would be an embarrassing setback for House leadership.

The Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the Defense bill at 5 p.m. Monday.

The fiscal conservative groups don’t mention the NSA or Syria in their letter to Boehner. Instead, they say that the Defense spending bill is the largest of the appropriations bill, arguing that “taxpayers deserve an open rule.”

Many of the lawmakers who side closest with the conservative organizations on fiscal issues are also pushing for the amendments to the Defense bill that GOP House leaders are concerned about.

Aides to Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and other libertarian-leaning members who have proposed the NSA, Syria and Egypt amendments said Monday no agreement had been reached with leadership.

The groups on the letter to Boehner are Taxpayers for Common Sense, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform, Cost of Government Center, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, National Taxpayers Union, Less Government, R Street Institute, Downsize DC, Coalition to Reduce Spending and the Club for Growth.

via Conservative groups push Republican leaders to open up Defense bill | The Hill’s DEFCON Blog.