Why is the House Majority Leader post such a big deal?

Published July 5, 2022, 1:18 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

With the question on the House Speakership in the 19th Congress practically settled with the expected ascension of Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, the focus now shifts to who will be the House Majority Leader.

But what makes the position so important?

For all intents and purposes, the majority leader is the right-hand man of the House Speaker–the person that the latter depends on to ensure that administrative and legislative matters run smoothly.

The House of Representatives website reveals the process by which the majority leader is chosen: “The Majority Leader is elected in a party caucus of the majority ruling party. His primary function, aside from being the spokesman of the majority party, is to direct the deliberations on the [plenary] floor.”

“In the present set-up of the House (18th Congress), the Majority Leader is concurrently the Chairman of the Committee on Rules. As such, all matters relevant to the Rules of the House, specifically the calendar of bills, preparation of Order of Business and Calendar of Business are within his responsibilities,” the website added.

The Committee on Rules is the most powerful committee in the lower chamber, which will have around 315 members in the 19th Congress.

The jurisdiction of the Rules panel covers “matters relating to the Rules of the House, Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation, Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, Order of Business, Calendar of Business, the referral of bills, resolutions, speeches, committee reports, messages, memorials and petitions, and the creation of committees inclusive of determining their respective jurisdictions”.

In actual practice, the selection of the majority leader is heavily influenced by the sitting speaker.

While it is traditional for the speaker and majority leader to come from the same political party, this is not a hard and fast rule. As recently as the previous 18th Congress, Romualdez, who was then the majority leader, prove that he could work harmoniously with speakers who weren’t his party-mates.

Another important nuance is that, whereas the speaker represents all the members the House, the majority leader represents the majority bloc. The minority bloc, on the other hand, is represented by the House Minority Leader.

The majority leader’s sway over the members of the majority bloc–i.e. the House solons who voted to elect the sitting speaker–is measured by his or her ability to fill up the plenary with warm bodies that can vote to pass a bill that’s included in the House leadership’s legislative agenda.

Needless to say, some pieces of legislation are more contentious than others.

In the 19th Congress, the eventual majority leader will oversee a vaunted “supermajority bloc“–or a majority bloc on steroids–that will be composed of stalwarts from the various political parties that supported Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s bid for the presidency.

Romualdez’s choice for his majority leader is expected to be revealed once the House members officially elects him as speaker on July 25, when Marcos delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Romualdez is the president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).

 
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