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January 15, 2009

Dem power grab seeks to make GOP irrelevant in Congress

You know that House Democrats have gone too far when the Washington Post (editorial, January 12) criticizes them and accuses them of hypocrisy:
"BILLS SHOULD generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full and fair debate consisting of a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute." So promised Nancy Pelosi, now House speaker, before her party regained control of Congress two years ago. That fairness, it turned out, was easier to preach than practice.

When they took over in 2007, Democrats set aside their pledge in order to muscle through their agenda during the first 100 hours; their promises continued to prove hollow in the ensuing months.

[...]A first-day-of-session skirmish over new House rules suggests that the situation in the 111th Congress may not be much better. The dispute involved a particularly arcane aspect of the rules: whether a "motion to recommit," essentially the minority's right to offer an alternative, must include the word "forthwith," in which case the alternative is immediately adopted if approved, or whether it can use the word "promptly," in which case the measure is sent back to committee and effectively killed for the time being. Democrats tightened the rules to end the latter practice, which had become a popular tool in the previous Congress. They argued that Republicans had repeatedly abused these motions, wording them to put vulnerable members in a bind by having to choose between killing a bill or taking a politically unpalatable vote destined to turn up in a 30-second attack ad.
We see here the real offense: Republicans were using the rule (which, by the way, had been in place for a century) to force the Democrats to go on record on controversial issues.

Can someone tell me why this is a bad thing? The Democrats certainly think it's bad enough that they have taken away one of the only means the minority has to prevent the majority from pushing legislation through too quickly.

Speaker Pelosi also made it abundantly clear in the last session that the minority would not be allowed to hamper the Democrat agenda by being permitted to offer amendments to legislation. According to the Post, "Democrats brought more measures to the House floor under closed rules -- permitting no amendments -- than any of the six previous Republican-controlled congresses."

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will not be denied in their quest to remake the country in their own image.

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