Dreier Decries Rules Proposal

Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:17am

The top Republican on the House Rules Committee decried what he called Democratic efforts to systematically marginalize the minority in a memo to his Republican colleagues early Tuesday morning. “This rules package is designed to systematically limit the ability of the Republican Minority to offer its alternatives as we debate the pressing issues facing our Nation,” Rules ranking member David Dreier (R-Calif.) wrote. As most GOP lawmakers and staff expected, the Democrats’ rules package for the 111th Congress would change the rules to limit the use of the motion to recommit, a legislative tool used effectively by Republicans in the 110th Congress that at times derailed Democratic-backed bills. The package is expected to be debated Tuesday. “First, the package limits the motion to recommit — often our only opportunity for an alternative — to ‘forthwith’ motions, meaning that the bill cannot be returned to committee for further work,” Dreier said. “The effect of this change is to make it nearly impossible to strike a tax increase from a bill.” While Dreier was heavily critical of the Democratic changes to their pay-as-you-go rules, which in the 111th Congress can be bypassed if the spending in tax or entitlement bills is declared an emergency, he did detect a “glimmer” of fairness.  “In the only glimmer of fairness in this entire package, the Democratic majority is allowing any Member offering an amendment (including a motion to recommit) to something designated as an emergency to violate PAYGO to the same extent as the underlying bill,” Dreier wrote.