Thursday, July 16, 2009

Progressive Dems Muzzle Opposition With New Rules

It's so refreshing to see that a new spirit of bipartisanship rules the day in the halls of Congress.
WASHINGTON (AP) - In their zeal to protect their members from politically hazardous votes on issues such as gay marriage and gun control, Democrats running the House of Representatives are taking extraordinary steps to muzzle Republicans in this summer's debates on spending bills.

On Thursday, for example, Republicans had hoped to force debates on abortion, school vouchers and medical marijuana, as well as gay marriage and gun control, as part of House consideration of the federal government's contribution to the District of Columbia's city budget.

No way, Democrats said.
At issue? $1.2 trillion worth of discretionary federal spending in 12 separate bills. In the past House rules allowed any member to bring up amendments and that fostered debate. Lots of it.
The tradition has often meant laborious debates. But it has allowed lawmakers with little seniority to have their say on doling out the one-third of the federal budget passed by Congress each year. It was a right the Democrats zealously defended when they were the minority party from 1995 through 2006.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., insists the clampdown is to prevent debates from dragging on and on. Republicans, however, have agreed to limit the amount of time debating the bills.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., acknowledged in a brief interview that one reason for restricting amendments is to save members of his party from having to cast politically painful votes.

So instead of debating an attempt backed by House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio to allow more children living in Washington to receive school vouchers, the House will vote on a Quixotic attempt to eliminate the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

"What they want to do is they want to avoid tough votes on appropriations bills," said Rep. David Dreier of California, senior Republican on the Rules Committee.

Even some Democrats are chaffing at the heavy-handed clampdown on debate.


The process has become so relentlessly efficient that Democrats were actually forced to drag out action to Thursday on a $33 billion measure funding energy programs and water projects. The reason? They need to stretch the workweek into Friday to force lawmakers to remain in Washington for committee work on health care and other spending bills.
Or in other words, the entire process has turned into a fraudulent exercise in legislative democracy. If your representative isn't one of the "in crowd" of darling Progressive Democrats, you can be he or she isn't going to get much of a chance to say or do anything as the liberals ram their pet projects (spending) through.

The system is broken.

Can it be fixed?

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home