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cross-posted from Sum of Change (also at Congress Matters, if you have a Daily Kos account then you have a Congress Matters account)

Today, I sat in on the Rules Committee hearing. It was a rather arcane meeting today to authorize suspension bills to be brought to the House floor over the next couple days and the weekend. Currently, House rules prohibit suspension bills from being brought to the floor between Thursday and Sunday without the rules committee specifically allowing it. (Why? I am still trying to figure that out.)

While authorizing suspension is what they were supposedly there to negotiate, barely a word was spoken about it beyond reading the language of the resolution. Republicans, all of whom voted against authorizing suspension, never made the case against it. Instead, we spent the hour or so listening to arguments about how much c-span coverage there would be and whether or not Congressman Dreier ran a more, or less, transparent rules committee. In other words, we spent a while listening to Dreier complain that this meeting was not being aired on C-Span.

A big moment of disagreement came when Congressman McGovern thanked the Chairwoman (Congresswoman Slaughter) for running a more transparent rules committee than Dreier. McGovern made the claim that the Republicans, led by then Chairman Dreier, rammed Medicare Part D through the rules committee without cameras. This claim was outright refuted by Dreier.

Luckily, we do not have to take their word for it (whoever you would choose to believe). C-Span just recently finished uploading almost all of their 23 year archive to their website. We found only six programs from the rules committee of the 108th Congress. Of those six, exactly zero were on health care in general, let alone Medicare Part D specifically. Since it is now after regular business hours, we will have to wait until tomorrow for verification from C-Span, but it appears that Congressman Dreier was mistaken. And frankly, to find only six rule committee programs available during the reign of Chairman Dreier is in itself a statement on how transparently he ran things.

In all fairness, McGovern may have overstated how transparently the rules committee is run by Chairwoman Slaughter. C-Span has four rules committee programs in their online archives for the 111th Congress, about on track to reaching, you guessed it, six. A fairly conservative number if we are talking transparency.

Originally posted to SumOfChange on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 03:21 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Socially, Politically, and Culturally Conscious Videos: Sum of Change

    by SumOfChange on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 03:21:40 PM PDT

  •  I wish I could remember (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo, SumOfChange

    enough to find when Drier ruled that the GOP congress critters were allowed to change the names of Dem amendments on an abortion law regarding state lines. He let them rename the amendments to things like 'an amendment to allow pedophile teachers to..."

    It was a disgrace and he was never asked to answer for that shit.

    Still a man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest

    by Mike S on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 03:53:59 PM PDT

  •  Thurs - Sunday rule (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No one is there Thursday to Sunday.  It's really not very complicated.  Congress is generally active from Mon - Thurs, and not there on the weekend.

    Bill the Butcher was right. I am a nativist, and that is a progressive position.

    by numberzguy on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 04:28:18 PM PDT

  •  thanks for the report n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    by jamess on Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 05:12:40 PM PDT

  •  I hope you see this comment here or on CM (0+ / 0-)

    To repeat what I said at CM:

    The House suspensions Calendar only allows for those votes to be taken Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.


    And from a CRS report (.pdf)

    The Speaker determines which suspension motions the House will consider. Members offering suspension motions are recognized at the discretion of the Speaker. House rules provide that such motions are in order on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and on the last six days of a session of Congress, and at other times by unanimous consent or pursuant to a standing order or a special rule the House has adopted. The Speaker also may postpone electronic votes on suspension motions until later on the same day or until the following day, and then cluster these votes to occur one right after the other.

    In 1890, suspensions were only allowed on the third Monday of the month. Gradually, that window opened a bit to the first and third Monday and the last six days of the session.

    In 1973, the House adopted a motion to allow motions to suspend the rules on the first and third Monday and Tuesday. Around 1977, the rules were changed to allow every Monday and Tuesday. In 2003, Wednesdays were added. It seems that the additional days allowed for more routine bills offered by the minority to pass.

    The Rules Committee would have to specifically make suspension motions in order any other days.

    So it was a gradual evolution from customs dating back to the 19th Century. I would also assume that this schedule allows time for negotiating and logrolling on more important legislation saved for later in the week -- presumably after members returned from weekend visits to the district.

    So that is the long answer to a side point.

    Thanks for all of your work on this.

    If you're gonna play the game, boy, you better learn to play it right.

    by Casual Wednesday on Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 01:20:29 PM PDT

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