When Republicans were the minority party in the House, they routinely complained that Democrats used the Rules Committee to stifle their bills and amendments. In the 1994 campaign, as part of their Contract With America, they pledged to run the House differently if they gained control.
Naturally, this was a big, fat lie. They've done unto others what had been done to them.
By preventing Democrats from offering amendments, Republicans virtually eliminate the possibility of the House passing legislation not endorsed or written by GOP leaders. As important, they eliminate a key opportunity for Democrats to divide Republicans by writing alternative bills that might appeal to moderate Republicans. Republicans also protect their members from swing districts from having to vote for or against some bills that could hurt them politically in the next election.
Republicans have used the Rules Committee to block Democrats from offering more generous unemployment benefits to a bigger pool of workers, greater homeland security funding and smaller tax cuts.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who controls the Rules Committee because he appoints its members, is simply following in the tradition of Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr., a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, and others before him who made the committee a powerful tool for the speaker.
BTW, do I even need to mention that this is also what went on in the Texas House this year? Unlike the House of Representatives, the Texas House had a fairly cordial and bipartisan history (for the 30 or so years that there were any Republicans in the state House, anyway). After all, Governor Bush has no trouble getting his legislation passed, and received endorsements in 1998 from Democratic Lt. Governor Bob Bullock and in 200 from House Speaker Pete Laney. Under Tom Craddick, all that went out the window. Enjoy it while it lasts, fellas.
Via Political Parrhesia.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 16, 2003 to Show Business for Ugly People | TrackBack