EDITOR OF REDSTATE
The Party of No
Democrats spend a lot of time trying to pin the “Party of No” label on Republicans. But under Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, the Republican Study Committee (the caucus of social and economic conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives) has started a new series of emails to show—in very real terms—how the Democrats in the House really are the “Party of No.”
Traditionally, including under Republican control, the House considers appropriations bills (that’s Washington-speak for bills that spend lots of money) under an “open rule.” In other words, under an “open rule,” any House Member at any time during the consideration of a bill is allowed to offer any amendment to the bill, as long as it’s mildly relevant.
The importance of “open rules” for appropriations bills cannot be understated, for they allow House Members to offer what they want when they want to (as long as the bill is actually being considered on the House floor). If a Member thinks of an ingenious amendment on the spur of the moment, he literally can scribble it on a piece of scrap paper, hand it to the desk on the House floor, and get it considered. If an amendment fails and a Member decides she wants to tweak it and try again, she can do that and get it considered by the House.
But no longer.
House Democrats, starting last year and continuing this year, have brought appropriations bills to the House floor under structured rules. In English, this means that Members not only have to file their amendments days in advance (two days, to be precise, for the bills considered last week), but the Democrat leadership gets to decide which amendments are allowed to be offered on the House floor.
Let me put that another way. You elected representatives to legislate in the House. But the Democrats have decided that the Democrat leadership should decide when and on what topics your representatives get to legislate on some of the most important and most expensive bills of the entire year. And then most House Democrats keep voting on the floor to support the fact that only a select few should get the privilege of offering amendments to appropriations bills.
Let me give you some real examples.
Last week, the House considered the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill (H.R. 5822). As the RSC pointed out in its email blast, 243 Democrats (97% of Democrats voting) went on record blocking the mere consideration of numerous amendments, including, but not limited to:
Bachmann (R-MN). Would ensure that no funds made available in this Act will be used to produce, publish, or distribute information that would encourage veterans to pursue suicide or assisted suicide.
Gingrey (R-GA). Would prohibit funds appropriated in this Act from being used for federal employees participating in union activities on official work time.
King (R-IA). Would prohibit any funds in this Act from being used to employ illegal workers, as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
And please note that I’m not complaining that the Democrats voted against these amendments. They voted against ALLOWING them to be considered AT ALL on the House floor. That’s outrageous.
Also last week, the House considered the Transportation/ Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (H.R. 5850). The RSC noted that 236 Democrats (95% of Democrats voting) went on record blocking the mere consideration of a long list of amendments, including, but not limited to:
Graves (R-GA). Would prohibit any funds in this Act from being used to implement ObamaCare.
King (R-IA). Would prohibit any funds in the bill from being used to provide homeownership or any other house assistance to an illegal alien.
Price (R-GA). Would ensure that no funds would be available to restrict a person’s lawful right to possess or use a firearm in federally assisted housing.
Plus. 9 separate amendments by Rep. Campbell (R-CA), 8 separate amendments by Rep. Flake (R-AZ), and 8 separate amendments by Rep. Hensarling (R-TX) that each would have struck unconstitutional or wasteful earmarks.
So Democrats think that only an elite few of their leadership should choose who can offer amendments to appropriations bills? Perhaps they should look in the mirror the next time they hypocritically lob the “Party of No” label at anyone else.