Tuesday, January 06, 2009

House Rule Change May Cloud Transparency on Patent Reform

Back in 1994, reforms to the House rules were made to tackle the issue of "secretive" legislative processes. The reforms included opening committee meetings to the public and media, term limits for committee chairmen, "truth in budgeting", elimination of the committee proxy vote, authorization of a House audit, specific requirements for blanket rules waivers, and guarantees to the minority party to offer amendments to pieces of legislation.

It is now being reported that Speaker Pelosi is looking to reverse the "House Fairness Rules" to allegedly consolidate power in the (recently expanded) Democratic majority. Needless to say, the Republicans are not happy, and the leadership has shot off a letter to voice their objections:

The American people[] stand to pay a price if the Majority [] shuts down free and open debate on the House floor by refusing to allow all members the opportunity to offer substantive alternatives to important legislation -- the same opportunities that Republicans guaranteed to Democrats as motions to recommit during their 12 years in the Minority. The Majority’s record in the last Congress was the worst in history when it came to having a free and open debate on the issues.
See a copy of the full letter here.

Connie Hair, writing for Human Events, decribes the situation this way:
Pelosi’s proposed repeal of decades-long House accountability reforms exposes a tyrannical Democrat leadership poised to assemble legislation in secret, then goose-step it through Congress by the elimination of debate and amendment procedures as part of America’s governing legislative process.

3 Comentários:

Kevin E. Noonan said...

I know nothing about the substance of what Speaker Pelosi is doing. But if the rules changes were implemented in 1994, there were more than 200 years of Congressional history without them. The post adopts without explanation the rantings and acusations of Republicans that this is somehow a disaster for the American people and the legislative process.

It may be, but not on the basis of what's set forth here.

Rusty said...

I disagree with Mr. Noonan and I'm not only a registered Democrat but I'm on Nancy Pelosi's Christmas Card mailing list! We elected presidents before we had a primary system too, with plenty of secret bartering (which is how Reconstruction ended and we got another century of Jim Crow brutality). Just because the House managed to function doesn't mean that secrecy is better or that we can't judge these rules on their own merit. Given the secrecy behind everything from Hillary Clinton's health care reform proposal to Dick Cheney's national energy plan, why would we want less sunshine in the House?

Anonymous said...

I pretty much dismiss out of hand the rantings of anyone who calls it
"the Democrat party." I'll be looking up less biased sources on this subject. I recommend you do the same.

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