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December 08, 2005


Is this the same legislation that includes provisions to curtail any candidate advocacy or fundraising by blogs, cutting blogs out of the press exemption?

Link to the Obey/Frank/Price/Allen package of 14 proposed House Rule reforms, from David Price's House website.

Links to info page and bill text for Meehan's H.R.2412.

Well, there was an rules reform package featured prominently in the Contract with America, so for those Democrats clamoring for an equivalent, this is a good start.

Almost every single one of the proposals is solid. I'm not so sure about the 10th one -- "Ending Two-Day Work Weeks," though. Not because I don't think they should be more productive when they're in session, but because it's so easy to get around with pro forma sessions. You could pretty much just carry on business as usual despite that rule, and all it would require is a quorum call or a journal vote on Monday.

I have a proposal.

Death penalty for all corruption in high place.

Hey, they like to act tough on crime, time to apply same rule.

The Rules package addresses commonly recognized grievances in a way that brings the nebulous welter of congressional dysfunction into sharp focus.

It is concrete, it nationalizes our Congressional District races (we get the majority, you get the reforms), and it is unequivocally deliverable -- Week One, no excuses -- such that voters can hold us accountable.

Thus it has the essential properties of an electoral mandate.

Hardy, how about commuting the sentence to two years in iraq to relieve a National Guardman from their state?

The provisions about lobbying are important, but ones on House governance, such as curbing the vote extensions and earmark abuses, and the measures to curb abuses of the budget reconciliation process are really important. The abuses of the system shown in the Cunningham case are outrageous. He had money funneled to his contributor buddies when the military had to forego vital pieces of equipment. And of course the are the bridges to nowhere. Having the bill available to be read before voting is another of the points that the House members should think twice about voting against.

This is good stuff--even if it goes nowhere the Dems can bludgeon the GOPers who vote against it. It might make a difference in a few marginal districts.

Meanwhile, the fight to extend the dividend and capital gains tax cuts--which don't expire until 2008--continues apace. This should be another defining vote for both Dems and GOPers. Even if we get the gov't back eventually, the coffers will be filled with nothing but IOUs.

I am all for the reforms that have been offered by Meehan, Obey, Feingold, et. al. But unless someone deals with the issue of enforcement in the House, i.e. the moribund ethics committee, more rules will not solve the problem. I wrote a blog on this at : http://www.commonblog.com/story/2005/12/8/144637/563

Mike Surrusco -- The proposed rule changes solve parts of the problem, much of it having to do with abuses of process that are not unethical per se, but simplyt undemocratic.

What do you propose, specifically, other than that people in general should behave more nobly than people generally do?

In particular, how would you de-morbidify the Ethics Committee?

I believe those of us not on the inside of the system need to make and widely discuss much deeper reforms.

One that interests me would be a rule that prohibits fudn raising while the House (or the Senate) is in session from any organization or lobbyist having business before congress. This would allow for a campaign committee to raise maney on behalf of a member or challenger in the district to take place, but it would end the money race in DC while congress is in session. Overall, I think it puts good distance between votes in committee and on the floor and the necessary campaign money grubbing.

Likewise, and as a companion to the above, I think there is a need to set a cap on the amount of campaign money that can be raised outside a district or state. I've always liked a 20% cap on out of district money.

I've always liked a 20% cap on out of district money

Does that exist anywhere already?

Sara, that would make for an interesting debate among Republicans. Well, if the were honest, that is. So we can forget about that.

But seriously, it'd make for a great theoretical fight between the Mitch McConnell "money is speech, let disclosure be your only rule" team, and the traditional conservative, small government team, which might support the proposal as a way to force Congress to sit for shorter sessions.

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