The Democrats Should Not Give Republicans A Voice In The House

Radley Balko declares Nancy Pelosi a “hack” because in 2004, she proposed a “bill of rights” for the minority Party in the house; but now that the Dems are in power, Pelosi is locking the Republicans out in the cold.

But Randy’s post, although it quotes a good chunk of the 2004 article, didn’t quote the article’s essential second paragraph:

In keeping with the general atmosphere of the House these days, aides to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he will not respond to the two-page proposal from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

What Pelosi proposed in 2004 was a mutual laying down of parliamentary arms, so that the parties could revert to (say) Ronald-Reagan era levels of partisanship. This was, of course, a self-serving offer for the party that was out of power — but not an unreasonable one, since both Democrats and Republicans, if they want long careers in Congress, can reasonably expect to be spending some time out of power. And if both parties could agree to this, our system might be better off.

Republicans rejected Pelosi’s offer. To expect Pelosi to abide by it now is to expect Democrats to unilaterally disarm. Why should Pelosi agree to a “Republicans can beat up on Democrats all they want, but Democrats will always play nice” rule? That’s not fair, and that’s not what Pelosi was suggesting in 2004.

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6 Responses to The Democrats Should Not Give Republicans A Voice In The House

  1. 1
    ryan says:

    It’s “Radley” Balko. You might want to change that.

    Good point tho.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, Ryan. Correction made!

    Barry

  3. 3
    Doug S. says:

    Well, one thing they should keep in mind is that they probably should preserve some way to do something the next time they find themselves in the kind of situation they were in during 2004.

    From David Brin’s suggestions for the Democratic Congress:

    * Spread the power of subpoena — and include the minority party.

    Here’s a note to Congressional Democrats; remember, a day will come when you’ll be back on the outs. Now is the time to set permanent precedents, that ensure you’ll still have a little power to poke after truth, when that happens. Establish processes NOW so that even a congressional minority can hold some future Bush-like administration at least somewhat accountable!

    One way would be to give today’s GOP minority what they never had the maturity to give you — the general power to summon witnesses and demand some answers, even when a party is out of power.

    There is no way that Speaker Pelosi and the leadership will want to do this, now that the GOP is reduced to an irksome nuisance. Still, please think about it. Just giving them the right to grill a few people won’t let them do much mischief to an open and honest and competent Obama Administration. Meanwhile, such a precedent could guarantee we’ll never again have an era as dark as the Bush years, without the other side getting to light some candles.

    Here’s an idea. Allow any three representatives to jointly issue one subpoena per year, beyond those voted by committees — and provide a venue with some staff support. One for every three members — that’s 140 member-chosen testimonies… maybe sixty a year from the minority party. A large enough number to make sure that pokes-at-truth will keep going on, even during eras when a single party machine dominates every branch of government. And yet, it’s small enough not to disrupt House business too much. See details.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Now is the time to set permanent precedents, that ensure you’ll still have a little power to poke after truth, when that happens. Establish processes NOW so that even a congressional minority can hold some future Bush-like administration at least somewhat accountable! [...] such a precedent could guarantee we’ll never again have an era as dark as the Bush years, without the other side getting to light some candles.

    The problem is, precedents are not permanent, and are not binding. The Democratic majority has no means of setting any rules that a future Republican majority would be in any way compelled to respect.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    There is no way that Speaker Pelosi and the leadership will want to do this, now that the GOP is reduced to an irksome nuisance. Still, please think about it. Just giving them the right to grill a few people won’t let them do much mischief to an open and honest and competent Obama Administration.

    Unless, of course, Speaker Pelosi is not planning to operate as openly and honestly as Obama’s supporters suppose. In which case she does have something to fear, and is treating this proposal accordingly.

  6. 6
    MisterMephisto says:

    Ahhh Ron…. what would Alas be without your unfounded innuendos and not-so-subtle and baseless accusations?

    It’s almost as if you’re planning a secret coup to take over all the governments of the world and masterminding a way to personally commit 100,000 crimes-against-humanity while you do it, instead of just shilling for the Republican party.

    (See how silly it sounds when other people do it to you?)