Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Beltway Business as Usual

The incoming Democrat-controlled Congress continues to live the mantra "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

They promised bi-partisanship. But in their first "100 hours" they'll sideline the Republican minority using House rules. Why?

So they can pass bills that serve their party's interests without any opposition counter-measures.

The WP has more:

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.

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.

Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who will become House speaker, and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who will become majority leader, finalized the strategy over the holiday recess in a flurry of conference calls and meetings with other party leaders. A few Democrats, worried that the party would be criticized for reneging on an important pledge, argued unsuccessfully that they should grant the Republicans greater latitude when the Congress convenes on Thursday.

The episode illustrates the dilemma facing the new party in power. The Democrats must demonstrate that they can break legislative gridlock and govern after 12 years in the minority, while honoring their pledge to make the 110th Congress a civil era in which Democrats and Republicans work together to solve the nation's problems. Yet in attempting to pass laws key to their prospects for winning reelection and expanding their majority, the Democrats may have to resort to some of the same tough tactics Republicans used the past several years.

Democratic leaders say they are torn between giving Republicans a say in legislation and shutting them out to prevent them from derailing Democratic bills.

Weren't Democrats themselves flustered by Republican House leaders efforts to exclude them from the Agenda? More importantly, didn't they promise a new way to do business?

I thought so.

As long as any party controls a branch of government through the promise of action and the delivery of a contradiction, the mess will remain. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.