As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The 111th Congress convenes today, and House leaders have a new package of rules that they will be submitting, for what I would guess would be a quick approval, given that they have a 256-178 advantage (Rahm Emanuel's IL-05 is vacant, but will be filled by a Dem). Republicans seem to be most publicly perturbed by the elimination of term limits for Committee chairs, about which I'm basically ambivalent, but I really like their stance on getting rid of the silly "motions to recommit" that Republicans use for partisan purposes.

Democratic leaders are definitely taking a hard look at preventing the minority party from scoring easy political points with motions to recommit a bill to committee with instructions to make contentious language changes and then report it back to the House "promptly." In the outgoing Congress, "promptly’’ has meant an indefinite hold, because committees were not willing to adopt poison-pill amendments sponsored by the minority.

Most motions to recommit require instead that an amended bill be returned to the floor "forthwith," which means within minutes.

Republicans would retain the right to offer two other motions to recommit — either without instructions for policy changes, or with instructions to make changes "forthwith," or immediately, meaning that the bill stays on the floor and moves to passage with revisions.

"Republicans will still get a chance to make motions to recommit. But they would not be allowed to just kill bills in a way that was never intended," said one Democratic aide.

This is parliamentary inside baseball, for the most part. But it does suggest that Democrats in the House will be takng a sharper tone with Republican nonsense and using the power vested in them to deal with it. We've seen the House become a more liberal body, through leadership elections and the increase in Democrats. They may finally start to use some of that power. the way, Congress Matters, being led by the fantastic Kagro X, is a great one-stop shop to learn about the more arcane aspects of the Congress.

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