The House of Representatives has a Rules Committee that sets time for debate and open or closed rules.
Most bills in the House of Representatives involve some sort for debate, so the rules committee typically allocates two hours. All amendments to bills by the House of Representatives must be germane, meaning amendments must be relevant to the bill. However, the Rules Committee can set open or closed rules:
- Closed rules prohibit amendments (adding, changing or removing parts of the bills) and limit debate to members of a standing committee or those pre-approved by Rules Committee. Also, closed rules can dictate that only certain amendments may be debated.
- Open Rules means amendments are permitted and debate is open..
Setting open or closed rules can shape the outcome of a bill.
For example, the Rules Committee deemed closed rules for debate about impeachment of President Clinton. If open rules had been permitted, a Representative could have changed impeachment to censure -- an unimportant alternative with minimal repercussions.