A news story which hasnt made any news at all, but is of utmost importance is the Democrats doing away with “prompt” Motion to Recommits.
Not only did this motion break with more than a hundred years of tradition in the House of Representatives, but it severly restricts any voice or rights which the minorty has.
I asked Congressman Blunt a few questions on the matter. Here is out Interview.
AoI: Some media outlets labeled the motion to recommit as a tool to simply “sending a bill to be buried.” Could you clarify exactly what the motion to recommit does in the House of Representatives and why Republicans used the tool in the 110th Congress? How does this differ compared to the rules of the 110th Congress and those of the past?
Blunt: Over 100 years ago the Minority insisted on including MTRs in the House Rules after Speaker Joe Cannon ruled the House with virtually no input from the Minority. There are two types of MTRs – promptly and forthwith – Democrats did away with the promptly MTRs. Promptly MTRs send the bill back to committee for changes. Forthwith amends the bill right then. Now, during this past Congress many bills never even went through committee, instead they were written at a conference table in the Speaker’s office. Republicans used the tools last Congress with success to alter legislation for the better.
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann offered a promptly motion to recommit on housing legislation that would make illegal immigrants ineligible for financial assistance. Democrats pulled the bill, reintroduced it incorporating Mrs. Bachmann’s motion and the legislation passed. When the House debated legislation to reauthorize and expand Americorps, Congressman Randy Kuhl offered a promptly motion that barred murderers and sex offenders from receiving grants under this program. Once again Democrats pulled the bill, but it came up again just six days later and failed on its own merit – not because of Republican motions to recommit. And one more example would be Congressman Pete Hoekstra’s attempt to create an estimate on the impact of gasoline prices on our national security. This time Democrats didn’t pull the bill. They defeated the motion, passed the underlying bill and a few days later passed Mr. Hoekstra’s motion to recommit.
Not once was this century-old rule used to bury or kill anything. Rather it was the minority’s attempt to restore the legislative process.
AoI: In a speech given after her swearing in, Speaker Pelosi demanded action on a list of issues ranging from healthcare to national security. Is there any indication that she wants to work in a bipartisan manner?
Blunt: It is going to be very interesting. President-elect Obama has signaled that he wants to legislate in a bipartisan fashion. Now it’s time to see if he can convince his party to follow his new leadership philosophy or if business as usual will reign supreme.
Question: Are any tools left for Republicans to voice opposition or act as any meaningful check against bad legislation or hidden ear mark drops?
Blunt: There are not a lot of options left, but we can still offer forthwith MTRs. While it won’t restore the legislative process, it will allow a small sliver of opportunity for us to improve bills.