Pelosi's proposed rule threatens to undermine basic majority principles

HSpeaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Is studying what amounts to a dirty pool to prevent members of the Republican House, and therefore their constituents, from affecting legislation even at the margins.

As Susan Ferrechio pointed out in these pages, Pelosi is seriously considering amending the standing rules of the House in order to eliminate the ancestral practice known as the "re-engagement motion" prior to the vote on the final passage .

"The MTR, as we know, actually gives the minority party a chance to change the legislation just before its adoption," said Ferrechio. "Normally, these amendments are easily blocked by the majority, but Republicans have won two victories with MTR measures by attracting Democrats from alternative districts, and Democratic leaders are not happy about that."

The reason for the mid-term reviews is a matter of substance is that the House, unlike the Senate, uses a Rules Committee to regularly and strictly monitor the ability of members to propose amendments to bills. once they have spoken. The Rules Committee determines in advance what types of amendments may be proposed. Thus, no member who does not sit on the original committee of the bill will have the opportunity to modify it, even slightly, unless the Rules Committee, firmly controlled by the management of the bill, the House, do not allow it.

Thus, the mid-term review provides the minority party with a single last chance to have at least a small say on the details of a bill being passed. It is an important arena for minority rights and fundamental equity in a majority legislature. This also tends to promote better legislation. If, on rare occasions, a mid-term review is successful, it will only be successful if members of the majority party join the minority party and agree that the final offer of the minority would improve the bill. In this sense, a mid-term review is less about power than the well-being of the American people.

An MTR is not a mere invention of the house either. He is part of the "gold standard" of fair meeting practices, Robert's rules of procedure (Article V, Section 32). In a formal legislative body, it should be considered as an essential element of an appropriate procedure.

The cynics might say that Pelosi's proposal is little different from the so-called "nuclear option" sometimes used in the Senate to change the rules with a simple majority vote. They could say that everything is now a politics of power: sauce for the goose, sauce for the jars. But what it envisions is probably worse than the nuclear option, because it touches the very constitutional conception of the House as a majority institution.

The nuclear option, for better or for worse, overrode a Senate prudential rule on an unlimited debate that was not required by the Constitution. It restores a situation in which a simple majority of the members, rather than the majority party leaders, decide the outstanding cases. It removes an extra superstructure and not a foundation for the design of the room.

Pelosi's plan, on the other hand, would prevent the majorities of the House from working their will against the designs of the party leaders. This silences not only the minority party, but also all members of the majority party who wish to join them. In fact, it prevents the House from determining what the majority of its members want to do. on this particular issue.

In summary, the nuclear option of the Senate remains at least majority, while the elimination of the MTR would prevent the current majorities from giving shape to the legislation. If Pelosi succeeded in imposing this change of rules, it would be a serious affront to the essential ideals of the American republic.

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