Members of both parties, in both chambers, stung by abysmal approval ratings and a lackluster legislative record in the last Congress are agitating for action this year by forming ad hoc gangs of (pick a number) to craft bipartisan solutions on a range of issues. At the same time, nervous committee chairmen are pleading with party leaders not to cave to gang activity and instead to honor the regular order of marking-up and reporting bills through the normal committee process.
Yes, it is spring and regular order shoots are springing-up everywhere. The trick is for the leadership to recognize their legitimacy while maintaining a garden that comes to bloom in an orderly and timely manner. The art of gardening, after all, requires strategic watering and weeding for success. Chauncey Gardiner could not have put it better.
Don Wolfensberger is a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.