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.