Boehner's new House rules -

Boehner’s new House rules

Some potential problems with the changes


The just-sworn-in Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, has introduced new rules for how the House will work.

One congressional rules wonk, Norman Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute, sees problems with some of the changes.

Boehner’s new schedule will give the House two weeks of work followed by one full week off during which lawmakers will spend in their districts.This is supposed to keep them close to their constituents and prevent them from becoming creatures of Washington, but Ornstein sees a big downside to such frequent trips home:

“The concept is a good one. But it leaves me queasy. I have long called for a three weeks on, one week off schedule for two reasons. The first is I want to find ways to encourage members to spend more time together, and to move their families to Washington. The best way to encourage civil discourse is for people to get to know each other as people; it is very hard to call a colleague a treasonous pig if you have spent time with his or her family on the sidelines of a kid’s soccer game. The second is to provide the long and continuous stretches of Congressional sessions that encourage real deliberation and debate, and do not provide the kinds of disincentives for the regular order that the disjointed and limited schedule has set in place.”

In addition, Boehner has made it easier to adopt spending cuts. He will deputize the chairman of the House Budget Committee to unilaterally create spending and revenue limits and caps by committee and enact them simply by publishing them in the Congressional Record.

“This is breathtaking: It demolishes the Congressional budget process in one fell swoop, and it takes away the accountability, openness and deliberation that a regular budget process provides. This is the opposite of accountability; Members, by voting in lockstep to enact a package of rules, will implicitly vote for a budget they have never seen. It will be binding in the House.”

“When individual appropriations come up, any proposal that changes the edicts of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) by restoring cuts in spending will be ruled out of order. Dramatic and Draconian budget cuts without votes or debate. That is the new open and deliberative House?”

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Boehner’s new House rules

  1. I hope he had a box of tissues handy, so he didn't get his lapels wet.

  2. That's a great idea for spending cuts.

    • A great idea? Did you read the article?

      How about this one:

      This is a recipe for institutionalized gross financial mismanagement – basically encoding Bush fiscal policy in House rules. My god, when the Republican right is so extreme as to lose the American Enterprise Institute, it's really worth a second thought.

  3. Why has no one asked why Republicans voted AGAINST closing loopholes that allow Corporations to outsource jobs and get tax breaks for doing so? Why are Republicans and Tea Partiers lowering taxes for the rich and killing education – education by the way is the only way to compete against Asia as they are far smarter than we are and speak multiple languages. Instead they are lying to their blind sheep followers and ramping up the race to the bottom as more and more companies prepare to outsource this year and only keep low paying and low skilled jobs in America. Until you raise taxes on the rich and force corporations to give back – your country is headed for bankruptcy. Once the poor suckers that backed the Tea Party millionaires realize they won't have any health care nor any jobs other than Wal Mart greeters – it will be interesting to see if all the money Palin and her cohorts are stealing from the public will protect them from the wrath of the peasants.

    • That was quite a socialist screed. Thank you.

  4. I don't see how spending caps eliminates accountability and deliberation. Every individual, family and company in the world has a limit on spending. It's only government that seems to have no known limit.

    It's a great idea. Somebody has to create the caps, and it cannot be the committees themselves because they'll have an incentive to award themselves as much as they like, at the expense of other committees. So having an official involved with the budget committee set the caps is a good start.

    Anything could be better than the spendaholic closed-door session Pelosi house.

    • "Whenever a demagogue wants to whip up hysteria about federal budget deficits, he or she invariably begins with an analogy to a household's budget: “No household can continually spend more than its income, and neither can the federal government”. On the surface that, might appear sensible; dig deeper and it makes no sense at all. A sovereign government bears no obvious resemblance to a household. Let us enumerate some relevant differences."

      The Federal government of the USA has been in debt ever single year since its existence (1776), save once in 1835 that was immediately followed by one of the worst depressions in American history. I believe it was Dick Cheney that said "Ronald Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

  5. I want to close my subscription #0148183775 as I have been given a gift subscript. for 2011 this past xmas. Please send copies asap…Murray Whipple

    • I'd be curious if anybody at Macleans actually responds to this….