01.01.2009 0

A Bit of Housekeeping

  • On: 01/07/2009 10:18:49
  • In: Term Limits
  • By Robert Romano

    For the New Year, it appears Democrats’ new motto is “out with the new, and in with the old.”

    In what the AP termed “a bit of housekeeping”—apparent pun intended—the newly expanded Democratic majority marked first day of the incoming Congressional session by solidifying its authoritarian hold on power. And by reducing the Republican House minority to the relative status of potted plants.

    Highly significant among the Pelosi contingent’s power grab was its elimination of the six-year term limit for committee chairs.

    U.S. Term Limits President Phil Blumel specifically criticized to the term limits repeal in his own letter to the House Speaker, writing, “In 1995, more than 80 percent of your colleagues voted to place term limits on committee chairs… The outcome of that vote ended a practice of members controlling powerful chairmanship roles for more than 30 years at a time. It gave Americans the benefit of having innovative leaders with fresh ideas holding decisive positions, instead of the same year in and out.”

    Those term limits—and other fairness rules enacted in 1995—were originally enacted to prevent the abusive entrenchment of unbridled power. As Politico reports, they were “intended to end an era in which the majority party ran roughshod over the minority and committee chairmen dominated party leaders.”

    Which suggests that Ms. Pelosi is now intent upon reushering in an old era where the House Speaker will rule the body with an iron fist. Key among the other changes is one that will effectively prevent Republicans from offering alternatives to controversial bills by eliminating the “motion to recommit.”

    In a letter to the House Speaker, Republican leaders objected to that change because it would shut down “free and open debate on the House floor by refusing to allow all members the opportunity to offer substantive alternatives to important legislation — the same opportunities that Republicans guaranteed to Democrats as motions to recommit during their 12 years in the Minority.”

    In other words, changes Republicans enacted when they came into power more than a decade ago to protect minority legislative rights—and thus bolster the nation’s two-party system—have now been abolished to solidify one-party rule by the Democrats. And one is reminded of Teddy Roosevelt’s characterization of the power-grabbing Speaker Joe Cannon as having “no more use for the Constitution than a tomcat has for a marriage license.”

    Without the ability to offer alternatives to pieces of legislation like cap-and-trade, socialized medicine, massive bailout proposals for the Majority’s favored industries, restrictions on energy production, etc., the GOP is being robbed of the chance to debate some of the most important issues facing Congress during the coming session.

    And tens of millions of Americans will be robbed of the opportunity to hear their sentiments echoed in the lower chamber.

    So, now, “everything old is new again,” innovation is out the door—and the Democrats have returned to form by securing their holds on power and abusing their legislative majority. But, they had better be careful, because it may only be a matter of time before the American people decide that they do not like one-party rule and toss the Majority tomcat out on its tail.

    Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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