February 13, 2009
Rules Committee Constrains Debate and Review of Stimulus Bill

Will America Be Able to Stomach This Much Hubris?

File:Triumph of Achilles in Corfu Achilleion.jpg

As transparent as your average bowling ball, the procedure for spending nearly $1 trillion of ours and the next three or four generation's money managed to pushed the stimulus bill out of conference for a quick and dirty vote on the floor of the House.

Here are the provisions for the procedures of today's vote, taken directly from the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1 from the House Committee on Rules, passed 9-4 under the direction of committee chair Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY).

Conference Report to accompany H.R. 1 –

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

1.     Waives all points of order against consideration of the conference report except those arising under clause 9 of rule XXI.

2.      Provides that the conference report shall be considered as read.

3.      Waives all points of order against the conference report.  This waiver does not affect the point of order available under clause 9 of rule XXI (regarding earmark disclosure).

4.      Provides 90 minutes of debate on the conference report.

5.      Provides one motion to recommit if applicable.

For the uninitiated that is what speed-track language looks like.  Since the conference reported sometime around midnight last evening, this leaves precious little time for congressional representatives to weigh their conscience and cast informed votes.  This must rank as one of the most flagrant abrogations of the compact between government and the people as has occurred in the history of the Union.

I am ashamed to say that the only Republican to vote YEA for stamping this bill for its one-way ticket on the express train to Hades was none other than my own state's Rep. Doc Hastings from the Washington 4th District.  Way to go, Doc.  Despite the sizable "investments" in the Department of Agriculture and the Bonneville Power Administration, when the voters realize that most of the money is going to benefit federal employees already on the payroll, not create jobs or improve economic conditions in your district, they can come and ask you why you didn't think it was worth discussing in the public air.

(I am willing to offer a special gift to the first person who leaves a comment on my blog (www.unequaltime.com) about at the top of this post and how it is apropos to what is happening in Congress.)

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Cross-posted at Unequal Time http://www.unequaltime.com

Posted by thesenator2012 at February 13, 2009 09:18 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Too late. All done. Pelosi is off the Vatican. Without a single member of Congress physically capable of reading the final bill, and even with the help of three Republicans who couldn't possibly of read the bill, it is now law.

Susan Collins (Republican - Maine)
Olympia Snowe (Republican - Maine)
Arlen Specter (Republican - Pennsylvania)

I hope that when the history of this crossroads is written about, and hopefully by historians living in an America that still exists, that the part these three played in this betrayal of all Americans is noted with all the disdain and disgust that every other Democrat will have earned who blindly supported this railroading of the American people.

What is a political party that allows those within its ranks to so willfully spit on the principles and responsibilities of the people they are elected to represent?

At least we know what to expect from the 21st century Democrat. But what these three have helped to orchestrate is beyond forgiveness.

Posted by: Reality on February 13, 2009 08:24 PM
2. It is certainly a shameful day in America when our elected representatives don't even bother to read legislation they are voting upon, especially legislation of such significance. And yet, this is precisely how the "Patriot Act" became law on Oct. 26, 2001. How many members of congress (Republican OR Democrat) objected back then? Why didn't the RNC chairman issue a public statement back in 2001 in opposition to the the manner in which the "Patriot Act" was railroaded through the House and Senate, without an opportunity for congress to read the bill before its passage? If you don't know what I'm talking about, perhaps you should read the Congressional Record from Oct. 23, 2001, just three days before the "Patriot Act" was signed into law:

Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. First of all, I think it is appropriate to comment on the process by which the bill is coming to us. This is not the bill that was reported and deliberated on in the Committee on the Judiciary. It came to us late on the floor. No one has really had an opportunity to look at the bill to see what is in it since we have been out of our offices. The report has just come to us. It would be helpful if we would wait for some period of time so that we can at least review what we are voting on, but I guess that is not going to stop us, so here we are.
(Congressional Record 147:142 (Oct. 23, 2001) p. H7200)

Mr. FRANK. Mr. Speaker, I do not know how I am going to vote on this bill yet because I have a notion that a bill of this weight, I ought to read it. What I want to talk about now is my deep disappointment in the procedure. The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. SENSENBRENNER), the chairman of the committee, has fought hard for a fair chance for the Members to look at things; but on the whole, his efforts have not been honored. We now, for the second time, are debating on the floor a bill of very profound significance for the constitutional structure and security of our country. In neither case has any Member been allowed to offer a single amendment. At no point in the debate in this very profound set of issues have we had a procedure whereby the most democratic institution in our government, the House of Representatives, engages in democracy. Who decided that to defend democracy we had to degrade it? Who decided that the very openness and participation and debate and weighing of issues, who decided that was a defect at a time of crisis? This is a chance for us to show the world that democracy is a source of strength; that with our military strength and our determination and our unity of purpose goes a continued respect for the profound way in which a democracy functions. This bill, ironically, which has been given all of these high-flying acronyms, it is the PATRIOT bill, it is the U.S.A. bill, it is the stand up and sing the Star Spangled Banner bill, has been debated in the most undemocratic way possible, and it is not worthy of this institution. There is no reason why we could not have had this open to amendment tonight. This bill should not be debated now. Was it really necessary to debate one of the most profound pieces of legislation and its impact on our society that we have had, was it really necessary to debate it at night after all of the Members who have been working all day were told to go home? Why could this not have been a full-fledged debate with some amendments? I think because leadership of the House thought Members might have voted for a 3-year sunset. They might have voted not to have the burden of proof be on someone to prove his innocence in a criminal trial. Mr. Speaker, the House has not been well served by a procedure which degrades democracy in the name of defending it.
(Congressional Record 147:142 (Oct. 23, 2001) p. H7206)


Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time. Mr. Speaker, no one has appreciated the attempts at fairness more than the ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary. The members of the Committee on the Judiciary had a free and open debate; and we came to a bill that even though imperfect, was unanimously agreed on. That was removed from us, and we are now debating at this hour of night, with only two copies of the bill that we are being asked to vote on available to Members on this side of the aisle. I am hoping on the other side of the aisle they at least have two copies. Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong with that process. The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. OBEY) first put his finger on it in the debate in which 79 Members were not able to go along with the bill, is that a legislative body that does not debate is being railroaded whether they know it or not, whether they want to accede to it or not. Although I like the money laundering provisions in the bill, I detest the work product that bears the name of my committee on it that has now been joined with this bill. For those reasons as we close this debate, my inclination is not to support the bill. I hate to say that to Members because a number have asked me what I was going to do, and I have said up to now I was not sure. Mr. Speaker, why should I put my name down in history for all time that I went for this ridiculous procedure which has been outlined? I do not feel inclined to support it tonight or tomorrow morning either.
(Congressional Record 147:142 (Oct. 23, 2001) p. H7206)

Posted by: Nate Randall on February 15, 2009 12:20 AM
3. Nate R.:

That makes me embarrassed to be a Republican...

I guess there can only be one solution. If we're to make sure the public gets a say in the future, we'll have to make sure that the Congress has a chance to read all the bills.

Here is the solution: "Read the Bills Act".

Posted by: Pete on February 16, 2009 12:47 AM
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