House Democrats put off rite of reading Constitution to convene new Congress

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Democrats haven’t expelled the Constitution from the floor of the House, but they have put off what had become a semiannual rite of having members convene a new Congress by reading the founding document on the chamber floor.

Republicans instituted the practice when they took control in 2011 amid a tea party-inspired surge of interest in getting back to the founders’ vision of government. The bipartisan reading has typically happened within a few days of a new Congress gaveling in.

Now in control themselves, Democrats plan to carve out floor time for the reading sometime during the first session of the 116th Congress — though not this week.

“I love the Constitution,” said Rep. James McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee. “It’s not a bad practice, but right now the most urgent thing is not to read the Constitution on the House floor — it is to get the government open.”

GOP lawmakers, though, were disappointed in the change.

“Maybe I need to get some Republicans and make a bigger deal about the Constitution not being read right now,” said Rep. Jodey Arrington, Texas Republican. “We all ought to read that together as one body and as one body of leaders for our country — not Republican or Democrat.” – READ MORE

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