Republicans Complain About Democratic Procedural Maneuvering

Posted April 29, 2008 at 4:23pm

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on Tuesday railed against what he described as the “no-work schedule” being perpetuated on the floor by Democratic leaders.

For the past four weeks, Blunt said, it is as if “almost everything” that is taken up under a rule should have been put on the suspension calendar, which is typically reserved for non-controversial legislation and allows for no amendments.

In the meantime, Blunt said, some of the bills being set on the suspension calendar are more complex and should be getting more debate time.

For example, one bill being taken up under a rule this week, the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act, received less than a handful of “no” votes when it was taken up on the suspension calendar last year, Blunt said.

“There’s a lack of respect for the process when you vote on things this way,” he said.

But Blunt’s comments echo those of Democrats about heavy-handed GOP maneuvering and lack of real legislative work under Republican Congressional rule in previous Congresses.

In addition to GOP frustration with floor scheduling, Blunt said it was “outrageous” that House Democratic leaders are hammering out an Iraq War supplemental bill behind closed doors instead of introducing a measure and marking it up in committee before sending it to the floor.

While details are still murky in terms of how Democrats plan to move the supplemental, Blunt speculated that they would bypass committee and send the bill directly to the floor, preventing Republicans from making their typical “motion to recommit” on the bill.

One way that Democratic leaders could shut out GOP procedural mischief is by leaning on an unused military construction appropriations bill as the vehicle for advancing the supplemental. That bill passed the House in 2007 but not the Senate, which means Democrats could pick it back up, gut it and replace its language with that of the supplemental.

The possibility of bypassing committee has GOP members of the House Appropriations Committee so frustrated with being shut out of the process that they “are threatening to burn the House down,” Blunt said.

A House Democratic leadership aide could not confirm a plan for the supplemental involving a resurrected military construction bill.

“Options are still being considered. No final decisions have been made on process at this point,” the aide said.

“If it is true, it is stunning in its arrogance,” said Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.). Democrats “always have to invent some new gimmick to get troop funding.”