Thursday, January 25, 2007

Changing How Washington Works

So the House Democrats promised a five-day work week as part of changing Washington. Wondering what they're up to today? Check the House schedule here:

Thursday - JANUARY 25, 2007

The House is not scheduled to meet.

Friday - JANUARY 26, 2007

The House is not scheduled to meet.

OK, so they're not working a five-day workeek. How's the effort going at opening up the proceedings, to ensure that the minority has a chance to influence the process?

Don't ask.

Next week the House will consider a bill to fund the government for the rest of 2007. It will encompass dozens of agencies and spend hundreds of billions of dollars. How many amendments will the House debate?

None, apparently.


...Mr. Lewis and Mr. Obey are involved in what we are doing here, and we are, after all, talking about nine bills, numerous departments and agencies and objects, and frankly, if that bill is open to amendment, CRs, as you know, generally come with closed rules, and they are clean CRs usually, but even some nonclean CRs, and that is for the public's sake, things that have additional items other than simply funding levels at a given level, have been closed rules.

Obviously to try to get through nine different bills on the House floor between now and February 25, much less February 15, if the bill is open to amendment, as appropriation bills generally are, as you know, would be something probably we would not be able to do. So that is being discussed, trying to figure it out.

I don't have a definitive answer for you here on Wednesday, but I want to tell you candidly that I believe there will not be a full opportunity in the sense that there has been, and I am not sure that I can represent to the gentleman that there will be an open rule.

Read the debate and you will see that the GOP Whip doesn't seem phased at the prospect of not being allowed to offer amendments. It is true that in the past, the GOP might have recommended a closed rule (permitting no amendments) on such a bill. But weren't the Democrats going to usher in an era of open debate? So far, through 57 votes and three weeks of debate, the House hasn't even voted on one amendment!

Isn't that sort of - you know - undemocratic?

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