Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 2, 2007

ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.... Just last week, the New York Times ran a lengthy item about how much better Congress, and particularly the House, will function under the new Democratic majority. It all sounded quite pleasant -- no more middle-of-the-night votes on key bills, no more restrictions on the minority offering amendments, no more single-party conference committees.

It's a new day in a new Congress, and Democrats are poised to run the place as it should be run. That is, just as soon as Dems check a few items off their to-do list.

As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.

House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.

But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.

The context of the 100-hour rules matters. Dems spent the better part of the 2006 campaign cycle promising to anyone who would listen that they'd pass a modest-but-popular legislative agenda at the outset of the 110th Congress. The bills on the agenda aren't exactly new -- they've been part of the policy debate on the Hill literally for years. It's not as if the new Democratic majority was going to overhaul the national health care system without any committee hearings; the 100-hour agenda items have already been part of the legislative process.

There's obviously a bit of a conflict. House Dems promised to use certain procedural rules, and they promised to pass certain bills. In the very short term, they can't do both, so they decided to pass the policy agenda first. I can't say I blame them.

Also keep in mind, the 1,500-word front-page piece in the Post was noteworthy for what it didn't include: a single complaint from a congressional Republican. Some conservative blogs aren't happy, and maybe the Post reporters didn't try hard enough, but not one GOP lawmaker was quoted expressing outrage at the Democrats' plan to push through a relatively modest 100-hour agenda. I'm not surprised -- House Republicans no doubt expected this, and for that matter, they can't very well complain about Dems using the rules temporarily exactly the way Republicans used them permanently.

Ultimately, as the GOP said quite a bit over the last six years, elections really do have consequences.

Steve Benen 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

What's good for the goose...

Frist!

Posted by: gab on January 2, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I honestly don't believe it will happen; in the end the Dem leadership will cave on the cries from the "bipartisans".

But perhaps, just perhaps, the WaPo, NYT, and even the Republican Party are contemplating what might happen if the Democrats stop acting as the punching bag for the Radical Republicans and the traditional media and actually start fighting back/tossing anvils. Even a hint of such has to be making them nervous.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 2, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin -

I was wondering how long it would take the hypocracy to gleam through.

If you have the courage of your convctions, you wouldn't need these little ploys to steamroll your legislation through with. These ploys just testify to the fact that these are unpopular policies, and the Dumbo-craps are anti-democratic.

I tremble for my country.

Posted by: egbert on January 2, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

But there is still those signing statements to contend with.

Posted by: Aion on January 2, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Pelosi should respond to the minority's letter as soon as Hastert answers her own letter asking for the same thing.

Posted by: Alan on January 2, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Rules are for pansies. The Decider decides!!!
Mission Accomplished: Democracy Destroyed.

Posted by: 'Real' Al on January 2, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Pelosi is absolutely right in this. Get these few eminently reasonable, well known and popular pieces of legislation directly to a vote. Dare Bush to veto them.

When the right wing noise machine whinges in protest about their ill-treatment, get in their faces and say "let's compare, shall we?"

Once the 100 hour agenda is acted on one way or the other, then go to the Republicans in the House and Senate and ask them if this is the way they want the place run, now that they're in the minority. Get every Republican on the record supporting the legislative "bill of rights", and then - and only then, change the rules back toward greater minority party rights.

Posted by: pdq on January 2, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

These ploys just testify to the fact that these are unpopular policies, and the Dumbo-craps are anti-democratic.

I tremble for my country.

Your country, and your children, and You, will be indebted for decades due to the fisal irresponsibility of the neo-cons.

Tremble on that.

Posted by: Aion on January 2, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Steve. Tomayto, tomahto. What difference do reading skills make when you just want to cry foul, egbert?

Posted by: TJ on January 2, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Mr. Animal.

Your party obviously doesn't have the balls to play politics. You and Mrs. Political Animal probably have all sorts of arguments about whether to shop at walmart, lie to children about the easter bunny, or hold doors open for women. Time to grow some cojones.

Posted by: Al's parrot on January 2, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Meet your Maker!

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002257.php

"Unfortunately, as you are well aware, the Democrats' forty-year reign over the House was plagued by consistent, systematic efforts to usurp the rights and privileges of the Republican minority," write Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Tom Price (R-GA).

They don't mention their party's own strongarm tactics -- which is striking, given that since 2002 Cantor himself was a member of the House GOP leadership, which was known for ruthlessly engineering legislative victories. "[R]eveling in the power they have, [Republicans] are using techniques to jam bills through even when they don't have to . . . simply because they can," is how congressional expert Norman Ornstein characterized the GOP's screw-the-minority tactics from 1994 to the present, according to a 2004 Washington Post article.

Republicans "have taken every one of the techniques that Democrats employed when they were in the majority, and ratcheted them up to another level," said the American Enterprise Institute scholar.

An ironic case in point: When Pelosi made her proposal to protect Democrats in 2004, GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL) refused to entertain the idea, let alone reply to her correspondence.

Posted by: Al's Mommy on January 2, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

They complain that the Dems don't have any ideas.
Then they whine about needing protection from the "Liberal Agenda".

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

"...arguments about whether to shop at walmart...

Time to grow some cojones."

I'm not here often enough to know the poster, but I hope this is satire!

Posted by: pdq on January 2, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't say I blame them."

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

It would be refreshing to read at least one liberal pundit who has the juevos to write: "They promised they wouldn't do this; now they've broken their promise. I don't approve."

Yes, yes, this is politics and all's fair. Politically savvy conservatives and other partisans aren't upset... we expect nothing else but hope for better.

Posted by: SunBeltJerry on January 2, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

pdq: I'm not here often enough to know the poster, but I hope this is satire!

There has been a troll named Al on this blog for some time. Others have used his name or permutations, such as this one, Al's parrot. Sometimes they are parodies, sometimes apparently sincere, but it's hard to tell because the original Al is/was so clueless that it is very hard for a satirist to say something so dumb that Al wouldn't have said it. Some think he is a paid troll; others think he just has no other life than to respond to every comments thread on this blog.

BTW, your suggestion as to how the Democrats should procede was a good one.

Posted by: anandine on January 2, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"The lawyers at PowerLineBlog and Instapundit have thoughts."

OBJECTION!
Assumes facts not in evidence.

Posted by: kenga on January 2, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The lawyers at PowerLineBlog and Instapundit have thoughts.

You must have a pretty expansive definition of 'thought'. My cat has thoughts as well, but I usually don't consider them particularly relevant (except when she's hungry).

Posted by: DP on January 2, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

A temporary surge of partisanship and then we will have peace on capital hill?

What if the Republicans choose to just wait out the first 100 hours and then try to divide the slim democratic majority with targeted amendments and improvised earmark devices.

What Pelosi is really calling for is not a surge but an escalation of partisanship that has no clear end. She'll never be able to trust Republicans with respect to vulnerable democratic seats. Her only option will be to stretch her resources and personel thinner and thinner trying to keep the Republican minority under her thumb (as they did when they were in power a few short years ago). The sectarian backstabbing will continue and continue.

She might as well say that her policy is "staying the course".

Posted by: Al's parrot on January 2, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sock Puppet alert!!! Hey Kenneth, how's it going loser?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 2, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, great start for the Dems, showing that their pledges don't amount to a hill o' beans. Real principled.

Posted by: Charles Bird on January 2, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The lawyers at PowerLineBlog and Instapundit have thoughts.

dark thoughts. dastardly, cruel thoughts. threatening thoughts that gnaw at their souls and rattle the chains the bind them to humanity.

the less said about them, the better.

Posted by: cleek on January 2, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody out there really surprised? Some of us are old enough to remember what Congress was like before 1994.

Of course the Democrats are going to shut out the Republicans. They're also going to shift the flow of lobby cash back over to themselves, start spreading the pork, and settle back into the seat of power and corruption where they believe they have the divine right to squat.

What's really funny now is watching liberal hypocrites like Benen make excuses for it.

Posted by: peterson on January 2, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, great start for the Dems, showing that their pledges don't amount to a hill o' beans. Real principled.

hey Bird Dog, how come you don't have a comment on the Rep's demand that they be given all the rights (and more) that they refused to give the Dems ?

what was that about being "principled" ?

Posted by: cleek on January 2, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

They're also going to shift the flow of lobby cash back over to themselves, start spreading the pork, and settle back into the seat of power and corruption where they believe they have the divine right to squat.

please, direct us to your previous complaints about the Rep's K-Street Project, so that we may evaluate your rhetorical footing...

Posted by: cleek on January 2, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

They're also going to shift the flow of lobby cash back over to themselves, start spreading the pork, and settle back into the seat of power and corruption where they believe they have the divine right to squat.

That would explain the moratorium on earmarks.

Posted by: B on January 2, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

So what. Aren't all the programs the Dems plan to pass in the first 100 hours very popular w/ the public? If yes, I'd pass them one by one and put them on Bush's desk one by one. Let Bush veto them if he wishes. The fact is the American public want what the Dems are pushing in the first 100 hours. Sideline the Republicans until these items are passed and let them stew.

Posted by: garyk on January 2, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

and

now for a

taste of your own

medicine as granny used

to say heh...

Posted by: donkey on January 2, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ever met a liberal face to face?

The far-away look in their eyes. The "devil-may-care" attitude. The incohate psycho-babbling of America hatred. The up-turned lip. The hanging jowells (too much vegan fare.)

To know them is to hate them. I know I've never met one I've trusted.

Posted by: egbert on January 2, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: pdq on January 2, 2007 at 1:10 PM

Works for me.

Changing the rules isn't part of the Dem's 100-hour agenda that's already been part of the legislative process. The Dem campaign promise for bipartisanship can still be realized. It's a matter of when the 110th Congress does it. Some payback is in order and perhaps some arm-twisting.

FTR, I didn't vote Democratic based on a promise for bipartisanship, not after watching Repubs in action. I voted for policies and for curtailing Bush and his rubber stamps. I say to Madam Speaker...go for it. Iron fist, velvet glove.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 2, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

So what. Aren't all the programs the Dems plan to pass in the first 100 hours very popular w/ the public? If yes, I'd pass them one by one and put them on Bush's desk one by one. Let Bush veto them if he wishes.
Posted by: garyk on January 2, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Remember how many Vetos Ford did? Most people remember Ford as PardonMan. But he also had a second, secret identity; VetoMan.

Looks like Bush is going to quickly become the same. I wonder how low his popularity can become?

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 2, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Ever met a liberal face to face?"

Tons. I even know a few.

Like the Mom and Pop of my daughter's friend, who rode their church bus for God-knows-how-many hours to Washington in 2003 to peacefully state their opposition to an ill-conceived war, before it started. Like the pastor I know, very religious man, embodying Jesus's teachings of love and tolerance. He was against the war, too, but he didn't presume to tell his congregation how to vote. Like my good friend, who adopted and raised two respectful, quiet and beautiful children with her (same-sex) parner.

They're all liberals. You ought to get to know some of the people you demonize.

Posted by: pdq on January 2, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

egbert is clearly either a satire or the dumbest fucking troll on the board

Posted by: POed Lib on January 2, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert,You just described Newt,Delay,Hannity and Rush in one short sentence,My hat off to you Sir.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 2, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please please run Newt for President PLEASE.....

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 2, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The operating principle of the late GOP Congress was that the only thing that would get to the House floor were bills that had substantial majority support within the GOP caucus. This reduced the ability of the minority to have any impact on legislation because the Leadership would be able to co-opt any dissenting individual GOP members to keep them from voting with the minority.

I don't have a problem if the Dems want to operate the same way. However, the real question becomes is there any issues or bills that would command a substantial majority support within the Dems caucus that would reduce the GOP's ability to offer amendments or substitutes that would try to separate the safely incumbent liberal members from the newer members who won in more contested seats.

If Pelosi cannot manage her caucus, her tenure as Speaker will be a very short one indeed.

Posted by: Chicounsel on January 2, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Given demographic trends in the United States, in a few years elections will be irrelevent since the Democratic Party will be the only viable party.

The United States will probably be back in the era of the backroom deal to decide who is choosen to fill a seat.

Posted by: superdestroyer on January 2, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, why not just suspend the rules whenever it suits you? In other words, on this matter, the Democrats really are hypocrites, and pledges that they will soon change the way things are done are pretty worthless on their face.

Look, the Dems are free to run the House as they like, but lets call hypocrisy hypocrisy rather than try to rationalize that it really isn't.

Posted by: Peter's 2nd cousin, aka Peter on January 2, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

DP, my cat is far more intelligent than any Republican.

Posted by: Cat lover on January 2, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Look, the Dems are free to run the House as they like, but lets call hypocrisy hypocrisy rather than try to rationalize that it really isn't.

Go away, loser. You morons had your chance for 12 years. The voters rejected Repukeliscum like you in a HISTORICALLY LOPSIDED and DEVASTATINGLY OVERWHELMING WIPEOUT of a loss. So, shut up and sit in the corner.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 2, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I tremble for my country.

That's the Parkison's.

Posted by: Disputo on January 2, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel,

The operating principle of the late GOP Congress was that the only thing that would get to the House floor were bills that had substantial majority support within the GOP caucus.

Why do you insist on being a liar? Is it because you parse the term "lying" so tightly that being disingenuous is somehow not lying in your mind?

Posted by: Edo on January 2, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Here is Media Matters with a comparison of 2007 and 1995.
...the Post article did not mention that the Post itself reported in 1995 that Republicans reneged on their "Contract with America" promise to "bring to the House Floor" 10 specific measures, "each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny." An April 9, 1995, Post article on the House's completion of the Contract with America reported that "[t]he contract also promised 'fair and open rules' for floor debate and amendment of its legislative proposals ... only about one-third of the bills came to the floor under such conditions." The phrase "fair and open rules" does not appear in the contract itself. But Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX), who became the House majority leader when Republicans took control in 1995, said in a September 27, 1994, interview on PBS' The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour that the contract was, in part, a "promise to bring [the 10 already-written elements of the contract to] the floor in an open Congress, with an open rule, fair debate, and a square vote."...

In the 109th Congress, Hastert's rule was that a bill had to have a majority of the majority before he would bring it up.

Posted by: Mike on January 2, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Ever met a liberal face to face?

The far-away look in their eyes. The "devil-may-care" attitude. The incohate psycho-babbling of America hatred. The up-turned lip. The hanging jowells (too much vegan fare.)

To know them is to hate them. I know I've never met one I've trusted"

Eggie, the "liberal" you describe herein exists only in your masturbation fantasies.

Posted by: CN on January 2, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans more than helped the Bushco train wreck, ramming bills through with party loyalty as Bushco cheerleaders. As a result, here we are with massive budget deficits and one bungle after another. They managed to destroy the democratic process by ignoring minority rights the past six years. GOP sleeze balls. I hope the democrats proceed with caution. We saw extreme corruption from the Republicans as they controlled the house and senate. Let's not get sentimental.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 2, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

egbert:

How retarded are you! It's not Kevin, it's Steve. You make the same mistake over and over and over. The name of the guest poster is displayed in reddish brown at the top of the post. If you can master this skill, then you might start trying to comprehend the postings.

Posted by: cailte on January 2, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

The public will respect the Democrats better if they keep their promises about better operations entirely, even if not entirely practical.

Posted by: NeilB. on January 2, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: Also keep in mind, the 1,500-word front-page piece in the Post was noteworthy for what it didn't include: a single complaint from a congressional Republican.

Something else WaPo forgot to mention in its 1,500-word A01 piece...

Via Media Matters:

...the article failed to point out that in 1995, Republicans broke the pledge they made in the "Contract with America" to have a "full and open debate" on each of the contract's elements so they could fulfill another promise: acting on the entire contract within the first 100 days of their majority.
...the Post article did not mention that the Post itself reported in 1995 that Republicans reneged on their "Contract with America" promise to "bring to the House Floor" 10 specific measures, "each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny." An April 9, 1995, Post article on the House's completion of the Contract with America reported that "[t]he contract also promised 'fair and open rules' for floor debate and amendment of its legislative proposals ... only about one-third of the bills came to the floor under such conditions." The phrase "fair and open rules" does not appear in the contract itself. But Rep. Richard Armey (R-TX), who became the House majority leader when Republicans took control in 1995, said in a September 27, 1994, interview on PBS' The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour that the contract was, in part, a "promise to bring [the 10 already-written elements of the contract to] the floor in an open Congress, with an open rule, fair debate, and a square vote."

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 3, 2007 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

D'oh! Mike at 7: 01 PM already mentioned the 1995 WaPo article from Media Matters.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 3, 2007 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

The public will respect the Democrats better if they keep their promises about better operations entirely, even if not entirely practical.

FUCK THAT MANGY TIRED SHITYou Repukeliscum morons have fucked up, fucked over the country and failed for the last 12 years. Now, go sit in the corner and SHUT THE FUCK UP. The adults have arrived.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 3, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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