Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Democrats Ditching Reform

As far as I can see, no attention at all has been given to the fact that on the first day of the new Congress, House Democrats will be ditching an important reform adopted by Republicans on the first day they took over in 1995: term limits for Committee Chairmen.

The Contract With America recognized that the public interest isn't served by allowing Congressional Committee chairs to take and keep power as long as they want. Entrenched Committee chairs bring entrenched lobbyists and views, and stifle the ability of the 'new blood' in the institution to effect change. They promote Congressional corruption by telling chairmen they don't need to worry about the views of their committee members or colleagues, and by telling lobbyists that if they can get on the 'good side' of the chair, they can count on his or her help for years.

How popular were term limits for Committee chairs when they were adopted? The House voted in favor by a margin of 355-74.

There are lots of current House Democrats who voted in favor of term limits for Committee chairs when they were adopted on January 4, 1995. Will Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo, John Tanner, Bart Stupak, or any of the others who voted in favor, speak out against undoing that reform when the House first meets in January? As far as I can see, John Dingell is the only incoming Chairman who would be affected.

Still, I wouldn't bet on it.

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