POINT OF ORDER; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 11
(House of Representatives - January 19, 1995)

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[Pages H330-H333]
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                             POINT OF ORDER

  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I make a point of order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts is 
recognized.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of this 
session, the House adopted a new rule which says the Congressional 
Record shall be a substantially verbatim account of remarks made during 
the proceedings of the House, subject only to technical, grammatical, 
and typographical corrections authorized by the Member making the 
remarks involved.
  In the Congressional Record that we received this morning, reflecting 
yesterday's proceedings, at page H301 in the transcript of the remarks 
of the Speaker pro tempore, the gentleman from Florida, there are two 
changes that were made between what he, in fact, said and what is in 
the Record.
  The first change is as follows:
  He said yesterday with regard to the statements of the gentlewoman 
from Florida about the book of the Speaker, ``It is the Speaker's 
opinion that innuendo and personal references to the Speaker's conduct 
are not in order.''
  That has been altered and that does not appear verbatim in the 
Congressional Record. Instead, it says, ``It is the Speaker's opinion 
that innuendo and critical references to the Speaker's personal conduct 
are not in order.''
  Additionally, later on in response to a parliamentary inquiry from 
the gentleman from Missouri, the Speaker pro tempore said, as I 
recollect it, ``it has been the Chair's ruling, and the precedents of 
the House support this, a higher level of respect is due to the 
Speaker.''
  In the Congressional Record that has been changed to ``a proper level 
of respect.''
  Now, I do not believe that changing ``personal'' to ``critical'' and 
``proper'' to ``higher'' is either technical, grammatical, or 
typographical. Both make quite substantive changes. Indeed, Mr. 
Speaker, it seems to me that by the standard that the Speaker yesterday 
uttered, the gentlewoman from Florida was judged, but if you take 
today's standard of revised, illegitimately revised version that is in 
the Record, there would be no objection to what the gentlewoman from 
Florida said.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair might respond to the gentleman.
  The Chair would recite from the manual that in accordance with 
existing accepted practices, the Speaker may make such technical or 
parliamentary insertions, or corrections in transcript as may be 
necessary to conform to rule, custom, or precedent. The Chair does not 
believe that any revision changed the meaning of the ruling.
  The Chair would under the circumstances inform the House on behalf of 
the Parliamentarian that the new rule is as it might apply to the role 
of the Chair will be examined.


                        parliamentary inquiries

  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled, and I have a 
parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts is 
recognized.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. The Speaker cited previous references to 
the House rules and manual. That predates the rules change adopted this 
year. This is not simply a case of making a technical change in a 
ruling. We are talking also about substantive changes in the debate in 
the House.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has made it very clear, the Chair 
would say to the gentleman.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. No, the Chair has not.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has made it clear that the 
Parliamentarian plans to examine this issue.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I have a further 
parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts is 
recognized.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. In the first instance, I thought the 
Speaker was the responsible ruler in this situation, while the 
Parliamentarian advised him.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman is correct.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Second, I want to know, are you telling 
me that this new change in which you say that it has to be verbatim, in 
fact, does not mean that, because two very important changes were made 
in the transcript from yesterday to today?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has informed the gentleman that 
this issue is going to be examined in consultation with the 
Parliamentarian.
  Mr. DINGELL. A parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Michigan is recognized.
  Mr. DINGELL. Can you inform this Member and the House of what the 
meaning of the reexamination is?
  You are informing the House that the issue is going to be reexamined. 
Yesterday the Speaker then presiding made a ruling which now appears in 
the precedents of the House. It interpreted the precedents of the 
House. It related to the rights, the behaviors, the dignities of the 
Members, and it dictated the future course of conduct of Members of 
this body.
  Is the Chair informing us that the rulings of the Chair yesterday 
stand, that the rulings of the Chair yesterday have been changed 
without approval by the House?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. If the Chair might respond to the gentleman.
  Mr. DINGELL. I would like to persist in my parliamentary inquiry. Or 
that the rulings of the Chair of yesterday are going to be reexamined?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair must reiterate that the principles 
of decorum in debate relied on by the Chair yesterday with respect to 
words taken down are not new to the 104th Congress.
  First, clause 1 of rule XIV establishes an absolute rule against 
engaging in personality in debate where the subject [[Page H331]] of a 
Member's conduct is not the pending question.
  Second, it is the long and settled practice of the House over many 
Congresses to enforce that standard by demands from the floor that 
words be taken down under rule XIV. Although the rule enables the Chair 
to take initiative to address breaches of order, the Chair normally 
defers to demands that words be taken down in the case of references to 
Members of the House. On occasion, however, the Chair has announced 
general standards of proper reference to Members, as was the case on 
June 15, 1988. There, in response to a series of 1-minute speeches and 
special order debates focusing on the conduct of the Speaker as the 
subject of an ethical complaint and on the motives of the Member who 
filed the complaint, the Chair stated as follows:

       Thus, the Chair would caution all Members not to use the 1-
     minute period or special orders, as has already happened, to 
     discuss the conduct of Members of the House in a way that 
     inevitably engages in personalities.

  Third, longstanding precedents of the House provide that the 
stricture against personalities has been enforced collaterally with 
respect to criticism of the Speaker even when intervening debate has 
occurred. This separate treatment is recorded in volume 2 of Hinds' 
Precedents, at section 1248.
  Finally, a complaint against the conduct of the Speaker is presented 
directly for the action of the House and not by way of debate on other 
matters. As Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine explained in 1897, 
criticism of past conduct of the presiding officer is out of order not 
because he is above criticism but, instead, because of the tendency of 
piecemeal criticism to impair the good order of the House.
  Speaker Reed's rationale is recorded in volume 5 of Hinds' Precedents 
section 5188 from which the Chair now quotes as follows:

       The Chair submits to the House that allusions or criticisms 
     of what the Chair did at some past time is certainly not in 
     order not because the Chair is above criticism or above 
     attack but for two reasons; first, because the Speaker is the 
     Speaker of the House, and such attacks are not conducive to 
     the good order of the House; and, second, because the Speaker 
     cannot reply to them except in a very fragmentary fashion, 
     and it is not desirable that he should reply to them. For 
     these reasons, such attacks ought not be made.

  Based on these precedents, the Chair was justified in concluding that 
the words challenged on yesterday were in their full context out of 
order as engaging in personalities.
  The Chair will inform that the Chair is going to proceed with 1-
minutes.
  Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the gentleman, the 
question has not been responded to.
  I want to thank the Chair for his comments. I would like to restate 
my parliamentary inquiry.
  The question to which I would appreciate the Chair addressing his 
attention is: Yesterday the words of the Speaker were definitively put. 
The House acted upon the words of the Speaker. The Members on this side 
of the aisle voted unanimously to take down the words and to take other 
actions against the gentlewoman who at that time held the well.
  The Chair has noted, I believe correctly, as has the gentleman from 
Massachusetts, that the Record was changed overnight to change the 
words of the then-presiding officer of this body.
  The words----
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dreier). If the Chair could respond to 
the gentleman----
  Mr. DINGELL. May I complete my parliamentary inquiry, please, Mr. 
Speaker?
  The Chair made certain rulings; precedents were quoted; new 
precedents were created. Those new precedents which were created have 
defined again the rights of all Members of this body.
  I am asking whether now the Chair is changing the precedents of the 
House, whether the change of the words indicates a change of the 
precedents of the House. What are the rights of the Members of this 
body with regard to rulings of the Chair?
  The Chair made a ruling yesterday. That ruling and matters relative 
to it including the words of the Speaker in connection with those words 
have now been changed.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Based on the precedents the Chair has just 
outlined, the Chair does not believe that the intent has in any way 
been altered.
  Mr. DINGELL. I have not completed my parliamentary inquiry. I ask to 
complete my parliamentary inquiry. Am I going to be permitted to 
complete this or not?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts; the 
gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. DINGELL. I am asking that I be permitted to complete my 
parliamentary inquiry and get a ruling from the Chair, unless the Chair 
chooses not to respond.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has ruled.
  Mr. DINGELL. No, the Chair has not. Because you have not ruled on my 
parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The ruling of the Chair is that the Record 
that has been changed does not significantly change the intent that was 
behind that ruling----
  Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, well then I have a further parliamentary 
inquiry.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Based on the precedents that the Chair has 
provided.
  Mr. DINGELL. I have a further parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts is seeking 
a parliamentary inquiry. It is the prerogative of the Chair.
  The gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. DINGELL. Am I going to be permitted to ask a parliamentary 
inquiry?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The House will be in order.
  The gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mine will be quick, and then he can get 
his in there.
  My question is this: It has to do with the rule about changing. It is 
a two-part question.
  Am I correct that the Speaker acknowledges that the Congressional 
Record was changed in ways that were not either grammatical, 
typographical or technical, changing from ``personal'' to ``critical'' 
and ``higher'' to ``proper,'' clearly substantive?
  The second question is: Is the remedy for the violation of this rule 
that the Speaker talks to the Parliamentarian? I am all in favor of 
conversation, but I am surprised that a new rule as part of the 
Contract With America is breached and has as its remedy a conversation 
by the Speaker with the Parliamentarian.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The interpretation of the Chair is that the 
modifications that were made based on the precedents that the Chair has 
just outlined have not changed the intent.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Does modification mean change?
  Mr. WATT or North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, a parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from North Carolina.
  Mr. WATT of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, in the Judiciary Committee a 
couple of weeks ago, we adopted a set of rules which provide that a 
hearing can be called only by the committee on 7 days' notice. We 
conducted a hearing that was not so called, and the chairman of that 
committee advised the committee that the word ``committee'' does not 
mean committee, it means chair instead and invited us to seek an 
opinion from the Parliamentarian which we did, and the 
Parliamentarian's opinion indicated that the word ``committee'' means, 
in fact, ``committee.''
  My parliamentary inquiry is: Should we take this as an indication, in 
conjunction with yesterday, that we are going to make up the rules as 
we go along and make technical changes to suit the whims of the chairs 
of the committees and whoever is presiding over the House, or can we 
rely now on the rules as they are written?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair can rely on the rules that have 
been written, and we will proceed under the adopted rules of the House.
  The gentleman from Michigan.
  Mr. DINGELL. I appreciate the Chair recognizing me. I would like to 
continue with my parliamentary inquiry.
  I hope the Chair will have the goodness to let me complete my inquiry 
before I am ruled out of order and required again to take my 
seat. [[Page H332]] 
  My question is: What is now the status of the original ruling by the 
previous occupant of the chair in connection with the matter of the 1-
minutes yesterday and the remarks of the gentlewoman from Florida?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. It is not changed at all.
  Mr. DINGELL. Have they been changed?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. If the Chair might respond to the 
gentleman's parliamentary inquiry----
  Mr. DINGELL. May I complete my parliamentary inquiry?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman has asked a question, the 
Chair wishes to respond to the gentleman's parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. DINGELL. May I complete my parliamentary inquiry?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In response to the gentleman's parliamentary 
inquiry, the Chair has interpreted there will not be a change based on 
the precedents that have been established. The statement that appeared 
in the Record was not different than that that had been provided.
  Mr. DINGELL. If there is no change, Mr. Speaker, then why were the 
words changed, and what is the impact of the change of the words?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. If the Chair might respond to 
the parliamentary inquiry, the revisions that were made were technical 
and not substantive. That is the ruling of the Chair.

  The gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I am very puzzled when you 
tell me they are technical and not substantive.
  Would you instruct your Members that you would recognize me and I am 
proceeding in regular order?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts is 
recognized.
  The House will be in order.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. The question is this, and it is a very 
serious one: When you say that ``personal'' and ``critical'' are the 
same thing, we were talking about references to the Speaker. Is it the 
Chair's ruling that given the circumstances any personal reference to 
the Speaker will inevitably be critical?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Based on the precedents that have been 
provided especially during the 1-minute session, which is what came up 
under Speaker Reed, it is very clear that these kinds of references are 
not in order.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I am talking now that there 
are two separate questions here, the ruling which my friend from 
Michigan was pursuing, and the new rule which the Republicans brought 
to this House as part of the Contract that said you do not change the 
Congressional Record; that is subsequent to all of the precedents you 
are talking about. There are two questions: One, your right to change 
the ruling; but, two, separate, the one I am focusing on, your right to 
change words in the Congressional Record in ways that are neither 
typographical, grammatical or technical, and I submit that changing 
``personal'' to ``critical,'' one more sentence, ``personal'' to 
``critical,'' and ``higher'' to ``proper'' are none of those. My 
question is: Why are you ignoring your new rule and changing the words 
in the Congressional Record, because they look better?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair will announce that it is obvious 
that these kinds of modifications have been raised as a question, and 
in the future the Chair will continue to be extraordinarily sensitive 
in dealing with these matters.
  At this point we will proceed with 1-minute speeches.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. Speaker, a parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. Speaker, before we start the 1-minute speeches, I 
think it is important that we clarify this issue so that Members do not 
have the words taken down.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair has done that.
  Mr. DURBIN. If the gentleman from Illinois might inquire of the 
Chair, relative to the ruling of yesterday as modified in today's 
Congressional Record, it is unclear to me as to how far Members can go 
in reference to any Member of the House including the Speaker in terms 
of things that they have done, things that they have said, things that 
have been written about them, and it is curious at this point as to how 
far we can go in the statements on our 1-minute speeches or in special 
orders without transgressing the stated rules of the House.
  If I might, I would like to ask the Chair's position as to whether 
Members in statements on the floor can make any references to 
activities of Members which may raise ethical questions.

                             {time}   1040

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dreier). The Chair must reiterate that 
the principles of decorum in debate relied on by the Chair yesterday 
with respect to words taken down are not new to the 104th Congress.
  First, clause 1 of rule 14 establishes an absolute rule against 
engaging in personality in debate where the subject of a Member's 
conduct is not the pending question.
  Second, it is the long and settled practice of the House over many 
Congresses to enforce that standard by demands from the floor that 
words be taken down under rule 14. Although the rule enables the Chair 
to take initiative to address breaches of order, the Chair normally 
defers to demands that words be taken down in the case of references to 
Members of the House. On occasion, however, the Chair has announced 
general standards of proper reference to Members, as was the case on 
June 15, 1988. There, in response to a series of 1-minute speeches and 
special order debates focusing on the conduct of the Speaker as the 
subject of an ethical complaint and on the motives of the Member who 
filed the complaint, the Chair stated:

       Thus, the Chair would caution all Members not to use the 1-
     minute period or special orders, as has already happened, to 
     discuss the conduct of Member of the House in a way that 
     inevitably engages in personalities.

  Third, longstanding precedents of the House provide that the 
stricture against personalities has been enforced collaterally with 
respect to criticism of the Speaker even when intervening debate has 
occurred. This separate treatment is recorded in volume 2 of Hinds' 
Precedents, at section 1248.
  Finally, a complaint against the conduct of the Speaker is presented 
directly for the action of the House and not by way of debate on other 
matters. As Speaker Thomas B. Reed of Maine explained in 1897, 
criticism of past conduct of the Presiding Officer is out of order not 
because he is above criticism but, instead, because of the tendency of 
piecemeal criticism to impair the good order of the House. Speaker 
Reed's rationale is recorded in volume 5 of Hinds' Precedents, at 
section 5188, from which the Chair now quotes as follows:

       The Chair submits to the House that allusions of criticisms 
     of what the Chair did at some past time is certainly not in 
     order. Not because the Chair is above criticism or above 
     attack, but for two reasons: First because the Speaker is the 
     Speaker of the House, and such attacks are not conducive to 
     the good order of the House; and, second, because the Speaker 
     can not reply to them except in a very fragmentary fashion, 
     and it is not desirable that he should reply to them. For 
     these reasons such attacks ought not to be made.

  Mr. DURBIN. If the Chair would yield for another parliamentary 
inquiry?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. On behalf of the Parliamentarian, the Chair 
apologizes to the House for any deviation that may have taken place 
from the new rule.
  Mr. DURBIN. Parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman may proceed.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I have a unanimous-consent request. I 
would ask unanimous consent.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Illinois is recognized.
  Mr. DURBIN. I will yield to my friend from Massachusetts in a moment. 
But if I may say this, this Member and most Members have the highest 
regard for the professionalism of the House Parliamentarian and his 
staff, and I want to make that clear and a matter of public record. If 
an apology has been extended, from this Member's point of view it is 
certainly accepted because I believe their level of professionalism is 
respected by all. We clearly will have differences of opinion on 
rulings.
  I just would like to ask two questions by parliamentary inquiry and 
then I will sit down. I thank the Chair for [[Page H333]] rereading the 
ruling. It is improving every time he reads. But I would ask this 
question. Can a Member during the course of a 1-minute make any 
reference to an activity of another Member, including the Speaker, 
which has taken place outside this Chamber?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Based on the precedents, only a factual 
reference can be made.
  Mr. DURBIN. A factual reference can be made.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without any suggestions whatsoever of 
impropriety.
  Mr. DURBIN. One further inquiry. Does this limitation in terms of 
reference to personal conduct beyond factual conduct apply to those who 
serve in Government and the executive branch as well as the legislative 
branch?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. It applies to the President of the United 
States.
  Mr. DURBIN. Does it apply to anyone else serving in the executive 
branch?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. It applies to the President of the United 
States.
  The gentleman from Michigan.
  Mr. BONIOR. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker, and this will be the 
final comment by me on this issue. We are eager to get on with the 
business of the House. But there are some very fundamental issues, as 
we have heard on the floor this morning, at stake here. We are being 
told that the Speaker is being placed above criticism and comments.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman is incorrect in drawing that 
conclusion.
  Mr. BONIOR. The issue that we have before us in basically closing 
down voices. The Record of this House is being changed arbitrarily, 
committee meetings are being shut down prematurely. Private meetings on 
major policies issues are being held outside this institution. Members 
are being gagged on the House floor.
  The question I have, Mr. Speaker, is this going to be the policy of 
the new majority in the 104th Congress?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
  The gentleman has not stated a parliamentary inquiry.

                          ____________________