Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tired of Losing Votes, House Dems Plan Rule Change

If you can't beat 'em, change the rules:

Exasperated over Republicans’ continued efforts — and occasional success — in thwarting the House floor schedule, Democratic leaders acknowledged Tuesday they are reviewing the chamber’s rules to determine how to curb the minority’s ability to put up roadblocks at critical moments in the legislative process.

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D) said the committee’s Democrats have begun meeting with both current and former Parliamentarians to discuss the chamber’s rules and potential changes.

The New York lawmaker said those discussions have focused in part on the motion to recommit — one of the few procedural items in the minority party’s toolbox that allows them to offer legislative alternatives when a bill hits the floor, and that Republicans have used to force difficult votes on Democrats or prompted legislation to be pulled from the floor — as well as other procedures, which she declined to detail.

Slaughter said no timeline exists for the review or potential alterations, however. “Nothing is imminent. We want to take our time and do it right,” she said.

But one Democratic lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said the majority is considering neutering the motion-to-recommit process and converting it to little more than a last-chance amendment for the minority party.

This is another hit to the Democrats' promise to let the majority prevail in House votes. Recall Nancy Pelosi's promise last year that the most important thing was an open process, and allowing the House to work its will. Apparently she's decided it's more important to push a 'capital-D' Democratic agenda than a government-by-the-people democratic agenda.

It's not a surprise that Democrats are returning to this. They've talked about changing the rules before, but got stung by media attention to the anti-democratic move. Ms. Slaughter's comment that 'nothing is imminent' shouldn't be taken at all seriously; Democrats will give no warning before taking away the rights of the minority in the House. They've learned from experience that signaling their intent to change the rules will only make it harder.

Expect this to be one of the last votes the House takes, early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, in the midst of votes on major legislation, right before a recess. It could be before Thanksgiving, or the last votes before adjourning for Christmas and Hanukkah. Such a strategy will be necessary to avoid press attention.


Anonymous said...

Of course Republicans would NEVER change the rules mid-stream. Like redistricting to make it harder for Democrats to win. Or like changing the ethics rules once one of their own got caught.

Out of all the hypocritical posts I've seen, this one takes the cake.

Dave from Denver said...

Actually, they are just trying to govern, instead of have 3 times more filibusters and twice as many procedural blockades by the minority party since the beginning... and not even being a full term.It's one thing to not agree based on policy beliefs.... and another to have it based on partisan blocking. Yes, both parties have been guilty of this in the past, on some legislation, but never ever even close to the extent the R's are now.

MightyRighty said...

Yeah.. I remember that.. the 'Nuclear Option'. Whoo boy.. they got spanked for that!

Pat Ryan said...

The senate itself is undemocratic. It was designed that way by the founders as a check on the "baser impulses" of "the rabble".

The senate, more than any other institution is an example of why we call our system a Republic which is a subset of the larger category of "democracies".

It's not about what the majority wants that's in play here, it's how much power 35 or 40 out of 100 senators should have against the majority.

Of course both parties sail as close to the wind as is possible on these matters. I'm sure willing to wait and see how the Dems do on this effort if the legality is formally challenged in court. Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich sure did their bits in the House, and were successfully challenged on a few of their.....shall we say......bolder initiatives.

Philadelphia Steve said...

Re: "Out of all the hypocritical posts I've seen, this one takes the cake."

What did you expect?

Conservatives always believe it is DIFFERENT when Republicans do something. There is an automative FREE PASS that all Conservatives are required to give to Republicans no matter what.

Why should this be any different?