Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been announcing since the first bailout reared its ugly head that she and the rest of Congress were going to move forward with a new bi-partisanship. She claimed that this new Congress with a huge Democratic majority was going to reach across the aisle. She lied, but I guess that is no surprise. Today Pelosi introduced some new House rules that will reverse the rules initially set in place by Newt Gingrich in the 90s that opened up the legislative process to public scrutiny. These new rules bar Republicans from offering alternative bills, amendments to Democrat bills and takes away the guarantee of open debate.
The House Republican leadership has decided to send a letter today to Pelosi to object to these changes to the House Rules. I found a copy of the letter at Humanevents.com and it reads as follows:
January 5, 2009
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Madame Speaker,
We hope you and your family had a joyful holiday season, and as we begin a new year and a new Congress, we look forward to working with you, our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and President-elect Obama in tackling the many challenges facing our nation.
President Obama has pledged to lead a government that is open and transparent. With that in mind, we are deeply troubled by media reports indicating that the Democratic leadership is poised to repeal reforms put in place in 1995 that were intended to help restore Americans’ trust and confidence in the People’s House. Specifically, these reports note that the Majority, as part of its rules package governing the new Congress, will end six-year term limits for Committee chairs and further restrict the opportunity for all members to offer alternative legislation. This does not represent change; it is reverting back to the undemocratic one-party rule and backroom deals that the American people rejected more than a decade ago. And it has grave implications for the American people and their freedom, coming at a time when an unprecedented expansion of federal power and spending is being hastily planned by a single party behind closed doors. Republicans will vigorously oppose repealing these reforms if they are brought to a vote on the House floor.
As you know, after Republicans gained the majority in the House in 1995, our chamber adopted rules to limit the terms of all committee chairs to three terms in order to reward new ideas, innovation, and merit rather than the strict longevity that determined chairmanships in the past. This reform was intended to help restore the faith and trust of the American people in their government – a theme central to President-elect Obama’s campaign last year. He promoted a message of “change,” but Madame Speaker, abolishing term limit reform is the opposite of “change.” Instead, it will entrench a handful of Members of the House in positions of permanent power, with little regard for its impact on the American people.
The American people also stand to pay a price if the Majority further shuts 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. The Majority’s record in the last Congress was the worst in history when it came to having a free and open debate on the issues.
This proposed change also would prevent Members from exposing and offering proposals to eliminate tax increases hidden by the Democratic Majority in larger pieces of legislation. This is not the kind of openness and transparency that President-elect Obama promised. This change would deprive tens of millions of Americans the opportunity to have a voice in the most important policy decisions facing our country.
Madame Speaker, we urge you to reconsider the decision to repeal these reforms, which could come up for a vote as early as tomorrow. Just as a new year brings fresh feelings of optimism and renewal for the American people, so too should a new Congress. Changing the House rules in the manner highlighted by recent media reports would have the opposite effect: further breaching the trust between our nation’s elected representatives and the men and women who send them to Washington to serve their interests and protect their freedom.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Republican Leader
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Republican Whip
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Conference Chairman
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), Policy Committee Chairman
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wyo.), Conference Vice-Chair
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), Conference Secretary
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), NRCC Chairman
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Chief Deputy Whip
Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), Rules Committee Ranking Republican
I spoke a bit on my radio show about the Second Amendment and the fact that one of the reasons our Founding Fathers included that amendment was for us to be armed against a tyrannical government. This proposed move by Pelosi is tyranny. This new House wants to be able to assemble legislation in secret and push their agenda and President-elect Obama’s agenda through without any roadblocks whether those be debates or amendments. If this move does not scream out that the government will no longer be for the people and by the people I do not know what does.