Issues for the House rules debate
Thu January 13, 2011 11:06 am

In an interview with Burt Solomons, the House rules guru, yesterday, he identified two issues that members are concerned about.

The first is chubbing. Jim Dunnam's strategy to kill the calendar and prevent Voter ID from coming to the floor worked all too well. The strategy involved what amounted to a filibuster of the Local and Consent calendar by having a series of Democrats ask irrelevant questions about each local bill for 9 minutes and 45 seconds--15 seconds short of the maximum time allowed for debating local bills before they are gaveled to death--and doing the same for the entire calendar of local bills. Republicans were the Democrats' partners in crime, as there were bills they did not particularly want to vote on either, such as the State Department of Insurance sunset bill. The chubfest lasted for five days and killed hundreds of bills that were on the regular calendar. Many members of the Democratic caucus disapproved of the strategy, and the anger in the caucus was palpable. There is widespread agreement that outcome was bad for the process. The rules need to prohibit a recurrence.

The second issue is Sunset bills. The problem here is that Sunset bills become Christmas trees on which lobbyists can hang their ornaments, and the debate becomes endless. Since almost anything concerning the subject matter of a Sunset bill meets the test of germaneness, it may be difficult to craft a rule that speeds the debate. The best way to handle it may be for the bill sponsor to ask members to withdraw amendments, but this goes against the spirit of open debate in the House.

It is possible that the animosity from the speakers race could spill over into the rules debate. For example, a Paxton partisan might offer an amendment stating that all chairs shall be a member of the majority party and all vice-chairs shall be a member of the minority party. This would reignite the fuss about who is and isn't a true conservative and a loyal Republican.

[I knot gud spllr, sory fer geding Burt's name rong in urleer verzun.]

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