Running an Open House of Representatives
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Aug 06, 2007 at 07:49:24 PM EDT
For a long while I've tried to debunk the myth that the Democrats are not running a significantly more open House of Representatives than did the Republicans when they were in office. Whenever Republicans were able to inject this false meme into the media, I have tried to rebut it with facts, such as the fact that the Democrats, already in February, had allowed more open rules than the Republicans had during the entirety of the 109th Congress. Now it looks like The Politico, which had previously peddled this trash, is somewhat inadvertently undercutting the GOP contention. Check out the 15th paragraph of an article posted today by Martin Kady II on the culture of the current Congress (which he says, despite his reporting on House rules, is not entirely different from that of the previous Republican Congress).
Statistically speaking, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has given Republicans a stronger voice in the minority -- allowing more amendments under so-called "open rules" on the House floor than her GOP predecessors did. Midway through the 2007 session, Democrats had allowed eight open rules compared with two under Republicans last year. And the majority allowed 60 GOP amendments, compared with 51 Democratic amendments authorized by Republicans halfway through last year.
The Republicans, both in the House and the Senate, are playing extremely poorly, not only falsely complaining about Democrats abusing the rules but also themselves abusing the rules of both chambers. Whether it is Republicans increasingly desperate attempts at delaying progress in the House or the Senate GOP's destruction of all records in terms of filibusters, the Republicans have done all they can to make Congress not work.
Congressional Democrats, however, have been affording the GOP more opportunities than the GOP ever gave the Democrats. Perhaps there's a partisan argument that the Democrats should be running a more closed Congress in able to ram through their agenda. But this is certainly not what they are doing. They have been able to pass a great deal of their platform in remarkably quick order even as the Republicans have abused the system. So Kady, and others, may argue that the current Congress is being run no different than previous Republican Congresses, which set records for partisan excesses, the fact is the Democrats are running a tight, but fair ship and should be given significant credit for doing so.