Proposed Changes in the House of Representatives.
January 5, 2011 Leave a comment
It has come to my attention that Speaker-elect, John Boehner, has also proposed changes, but to the House of Representatives rather than the Senate. Below is the summary of changes that Boehner would like to make, from the New York Times:
Mr. Boehner seeks to do away with large omnibus spending bills, preferring to break them into smaller bills, and to allow for more amendments on bills generally, and more extensive debate.
Members offering bills for new programs will have to explain how they will pay for them, not by raising new revenues but by finding other ways to cut costs. Each bill introduced will also have to cite the specific constitutional authority for its contents.
For the first time under the House rules, all bills will be required to be placed online. Committees will post their rules and their votes, as well as information about testifying witnesses in an effort to make public any conflicts of interest.
In an unusual grab of budgetary power, the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee will be able to unilaterally set limits for categories of domestic spending until a budget resolution is passed this spring, as a budget enforcement measure. …
… Before bills are marked up — a sacred practice that allows lawmakers to change the content of bills — three days’ notice must be given, also to stave off dark-of-night revisions.
The health care repeal and the tax cuts are not subject to these new rules. Which I find interesting, considering that these two things number among the Republicans highest priorities.
I do appreciate the effort to put pending legislation online. This will allow any interested party to see exactly what legislation says–and frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t been done before. This takes away the considerable power of politicians and media to frame the debate among the public. There will be many, of course, that will still rely on media and politicians to summarize legislation for them, but political junkies everywhere are almost salivating in anticipation, I’m sure.
Breaking up budgetary bills would have been a very good idea, but the increased ability to add amendments cancels out any benefit we might have gained from it–because the problem with the annual budget bill was the excess of amendments, many having nothing to do with spending, added onto the legislation. Adding a requirement that any spending bills must specify where and how it is to be paid for would also be a good idea, IF the exclusion for raising new revenue were excluded. Of course, the exemption for the health care repeal and the tax cut bill are noteworthy, indicative of the Republicans willingness to make exceptions to their own rules for themselves. It does not bode well for the Republican House majority.