Democrats To Start Without GOP Input
Quick Passage of First Bills Sought
As they prepare to take control of Congress this week and face up to campaign pledges to restore bipartisanship and openness, Democrats are planning to largely sideline Republicans from the first burst of lawmaking.Republican John Cole's reaction reflects my feelings:
House Democrats intend to pass a raft of popular measures as part of their well-publicized plan for the first 100 hours. They include tightening ethics rules for lawmakers, raising the minimum wage, allowing more research on stem cells and cutting interest rates on student loans.
But instead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.
And I agree 100% with this decision. While this will give the cheerleaders on the right some early cannon fodder (“See- the Democrats are no different!”), this can be completely countered with the simple statement- “Hey- we are just using your rules.” Politically, it might be damaging to the Democrats in the short run, but the alternative is to let the Republicans participate early on, defeat or screw up all the initiatives the Democrats plan to pass, and have the Republicans then claim the Democrats didn’t change anything.It took 6 years to destroy bipartisanship, don't expect it to reappear overnight.
So shut ‘em out. Let them sit on the sidelines, pass your bills and fulfill your promises, and then, after the dust has settled, let the Republicans play ball. Maybe, by then, they will appreciate the fact that the Democratic practices for debate are the better alternative to the past 6 years of one party rule, and will not use the Democratic willingness to work with the opposition as a weapon.