Let me start by saying, “I’m not a parliamentarian”. I’ve been reading House Rules for bringing Bills and Amendments to the Committee Of The Whole, (The House Floor) for Consideration.
Interesting thing is this…These huge multi-thousand page bills that aren’t being written before consideration are required to be read before they can be voted on. It is custom in the House that a member stand up and asks that the reading of the bill be dispensed with by unanimous consent. Barring unanimous approval, the bills must be read.
In addition, any and all amendments from a member to the legislation are to be placed with the committee table on his or her side of the isle where he/she stands until they are recognized at which time the Congressman states he/she has an amendment to be considered.
As with the Bill being debated, all Amendments are supposed to be read as well. The custom is for the Congressman offering the amendment to request that the amendment be dispensed with by unanimous consent.
It is my understanding, (I have a question about a particular section of the rule that I will address shortly), that when the motion to dispense with the bill or amendment by “unanimous consent” is requested, one Congressman raising an objection is all that is required to force a reading of the bill.
The item I have question about is this:
A Member requesting a recorded vote must get at least 25 Members to stand in support of the request, and will usually simultaneously make a point of order that a quorum is not present as a safeguard for rounding-up sufficient support. However, the Member will usually ask unanimous consent to withdraw the no-quorum point of order when it is clear that a sufficient number of members are present and standing to demand the recorded vote
My understanding is that the chair will either be required to have the clerk read the bill, (again which doesn’t exist, or is still warm from the printing process), or a member can request a vote be taken in order to dispense with the reading of the bill. The member wishing the bill to be read can then object to the absence of a quorum. Nothing can proceed from that point until 25 members are present and standing to call the roll.
There are hundreds of activities that are dispensed with by unanimous consent including member speeches being included in the Congressional Record as read, or to revise and extend remarks etc.
I haven’t dug into the Senate Rules but I’m certain the opportunities to object to unanimous Consent rules are readily available as well. In addition, I’m pretty sure these rules are much the same in every committee of the House and Senate
So what’s my point in bringing up this boring and wonkish drivel?
Given the bad faith of Ried and Pelosi in cramming so much legislation down the nation’s throat with no opportunity to read let alone debate bills that haven’t been written or reach the floor minutes before the vote, Republicans should be objecting to every single unanimous consent request that comes before every committee and the Committee of the Whole!
Were I the Minority Leader, I’d be assigning members to sit on the floor every minute the House is in session who would stand to raise an objection to every unanimous consent request that comes down the pipes. Those members should read a statement concerning the legislation to be voted on objecting to the fact that the legislation or Amendments haven’t been available for the members to read.
In addition, this strategy would be followed to the maximum extent possible in the committees of the House and Senate and every effort would be made to force the Democrats to vote on every single unanimous consent request no matter how trivial.
The beauty of this is, (unless I misunderstand the process), only one member can tie the Democrats up for minutes, hours, or even days and would tie in knots the Democrat Juggernaut being crammed down our throats.
In addition, each Amendment to a bill can have amendments to the amendment being debated up to four Amendments before a vote is taken.
So, What am I saying?
Despite the protestations to the contrary, Republicans are not powerless to stop some of the Obama agenda in Washington. This work can be done and at the very least Pelosi and Ried would be forced to deal with them in some good faith or face having the Congress and Senate locked up for months with nothing being done.
Of course we’ll have the usual suspects whining about the lack of decorum in the Congress, and the Vichy Republicans telling us we need to be careful with this type of strategy lest the Dems use it on us when we’re in the Majority…but what of it. Does anyone doubt for a minute the Democrats wouldn’t employ these tactics were they in the position we currently find ourselves occupying?
Besides…if this strategy were followed…What chance would the whining stand if the Republicans were ready with a response to be repeated over and over again to media outlets and their constituents that, “How can we in good conscience vote on a bill we’ve never laid eyes on without having the clerk read it to all the members since there is usually only one written copy brought to the floor when the rules require 10!”
No war was ever won by being nice to the enemy or without a steadfast refusal to fight. My call is for Congressman Boehner to use any means necessary to muck up the works and force the Dems to deal with the Republican Caucus. Should he not, if I am correct, my strategy doesn’t require the approval of the leadership. It can be employed buy one member to force a Quorum call, or twenty five Republicans unified in their resolve to force the Majority into roll call vote after roll call vote to the Dem’s ever living frustration!
I say “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!