The Washington Post has gotten around to discovering what the conservative blogosphere, including yours truly, has already documented, and that’s that the Democrats who rode Congress on the promise of “bipartisanship” and “open debate” and who complained for years and years about the lack thereof on both counts under Republican control aren’t practicing what they promised and preached, surprise surprise. Lyndsey Layton writes:
Democrats pledged to bring courtesy to the Capitol when they assumed control of Congress last month. But from the start, the new majority used its muscle to force through its agenda in the House and sideline Republicans.
And after an initial burst of lawmaking, the Democratic juggernaut has kept on rolling.
Of nine major bills passed by the House since the 110th Congress began, Republicans have been allowed to make amendments to just one, a measure directing federal research into additives to biofuels. In the arcane world of Capitol Hill, where the majority dictates which legislation comes before the House and which dies on a shelf, the ability to offer amendments from the floor is one of the minority’s few tools.
Last week, the strong-arming continued during the most important debate the Congress has faced yet — the discussion about the Iraq war. Democrats initially said they would allow Republicans to propose one alternative to the resolution denouncing a troop buildup but, days later, they thought better of it.
“It sounds like we’re not doing what we said we would do — I understand that,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday. “Here, however, we believe we are very justified in one of the most important issues confronting the country, which clearly was a huge issue in the election and which got bottled up in the Senate.”
Heh. Translation: “If we feel it’s an important issue, it’s justifiable that we break our promises and look like hypocrites to the American people.”
Some say Democrats risk being accused of the same abuse of power that Republicans were charged with when they were running Capitol Hill. Republicans became notorious for tactics such as prolonging a roll call vote for three hours in order to round up enough Republicans to pass a bill or failing to notify Democratic members of committee meetings or negotiating sessions.
“They’re on thin ice now,” Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of the new Democratic leaders. “I’m getting uneasy about this lack of amendments. . . . They’re getting to the point where you’re past the initial period where you’ve got an excuse to operate with a firm hand. It’s going to be increasingly difficult to rationalize.”
In May, months before her party won control of Congress and she became speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said “bills should generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full and fair debate consisting of a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute.” After the election, Pelosi told the Associated Press: “The principle of civility and respect for minority participation in this House is something we promised the American people. It’s the right thing to do.”
In the first weeks of the new Congress, however, Democrats bypassed the usual legislative committees, refused to allow any amendments and took their agenda straight to the floor for passage. They said they needed a clear path to pass a handful of popular measures that were the basis of their successful November campaign, including expanded money for stem cell research, an increase in the federal minimum wage and implementation of recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission.
They broke that 9-11 commission promise shortly after the election. Fully implementing the 9-11 commission’s recommendations was something that Pelosi and co. slammed Republicans on routinely for not doing, yet they themselves fell back on their own pledge to do just that.
But even after passing their domestic agenda, Democratic leaders have continued to marginalize Republicans, preventing them from having a voice in legislation such as a bill to withhold federal pensions from lawmakers convicted of ethics felonies and a $463 billion bill to fund the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year.
“This is the legislative equivalent of ‘the check is in the mail,’ ” said Ross K. Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, referring to repeated promises by the Democrats to open up the legislative process to Republicans. “The Democrats are paying lip service to principle, but it’s the same old high-handedness, except with a friendly face.”
Yep. As I’ve said before: meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses, except liberal – and phony as hell.
Moving forward re: the Iraq surge debate:
After watching the Senate stall over competing war resolutions and tangled discussions over the terms of debate, Hoyer and Pelosi said they wanted to prevent similar “confusion” in their chamber.
Republicans hoped to introduce a bill similar to one written by Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican who flew combat missions in Korea and Vietnam and was a prisoner of war in Hanoi. It says Congress would not cut off money for soldiers in the field. But Democrats worried it would place some members of their party in a difficult position.
Uh yeah, the position of turning their backs on their Nutroots base, a group they’d rather surrender to than risk losing their votes. In other words, they’re playing politics with the Iraq war. Again.
Speaking of ‘new bosses’ in Congress and the Iraq war, the WaPo had a blistering editorial this weekend on Rep. John “cut and run” Murtha’s double talk on the surge as well as his ‘slow bleed’ proposal:
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. “We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote,” the 74-year-old congressman said of the House’s 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge. “The real vote will come on the legislation we’re putting together.” That would be Mr. Murtha’s plan to “stop the surge” and “force a redeployment” of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step.
Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.
It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha’s remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not “the real vote”? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.
Brendan Miniter is on the same wavelength.
The far left wing has come out of hiding since the election and is baring its fangs for the country to see, contrary to the hopes of Rep. Rahm Emanuel and some of the other somewhat ‘moderate’ Dems in the House (and Senate) who wanted to project a more centrist, mainstream image.
It’s bad enough to have this happen in peacetime, but the fact that it’s happening during wartime makes it much, much worse – and although in the long run, their disgraceful actions might benefit Republicans, their actions do not in any way shape or form benefit this country, and especially and most importantly their actions don’t benefit our troops who now know that ‘officially’ one house of Congress does not support their mission – nor them.
Ladies and gents, this is, unfortunately, the “in the spirit of bipartisanship” and “strong on terror” Democratic party that will be in control of our Congress for at least the next two years. God help us.
More: Check out related thoughts on the clueless in Congress – including certain white-flag Republicans, at Cavalier X’s.
A note from a soldier in the field. “With the House debating this week how much â€˜non-binding’ grief to lay on President Bush about Iraq, I e-mailed a soldier friend of mine for his impressions of the increasingly amplified protests. Army Sgt. Daniel Dobson, 22, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is on his second tour in Iraq. I asked him what he thinks of the growing opposition to the war. Writing from Mosul, he says he appreciates the freedom Americans have to protest, but adds: â€˜The American military has shown a stone-cold professional veneer throughout the seething debate raging over Iraq. Beneath that veneer, however, is a fuming, visceral hatred. We feel as though we have been betrayed by Congress.’ Sgt. Dobson believes the military is being hamstrung against an enemy with no reservations or restrictions: â€˜It is our overwhelming opinion that we have not been allowed to conduct the war to the fullest of our capability; neither do we feel that we should pull out because of a lack of â€˜results.’ War is not a chemistry set with predetermined outcomes or complications. With a great army matched with an equally cunning enemy, we find ourselves in a difficult, but winnable fight. We do not seek results; rather, we seek total and unequivocal victoryâ€¦[T]here is no honor in what the Democrats have proposed. It stings me to the core to think that Americans would rather sell their honor than fight for a cause’.” —CT