Something's Missing From Pelosi's Reform List

Monday, October 09, 2006

Something's Missing From Pelosi's Reform List

The House Republican leadership has been far too willing to use the undemocratic practice of extending the allotted time for floor votes so they could twist arms or cut deals to narrowly win these votes. The GOP leadership added 23 minutes to the voting period to defeat an amendment to the Patriot Act.

This should lead Dems to end such practices instead of trying to use such practices against the GOP. By ending this practice, Dems would not only be doing the right thing; they would gain a lot of goodwill among voters who are fed up with partisan shenanigans. But I'm worried that Democrats aren't learning the right lessons.

Nancy Pelosi recently outlined a Democratic plan for reform, and there were some worthwhile proposals (details to come) on her list. But nowhere did I see a proposal for ending the use of undemocratic vote-extensions.

In 1987, then-House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) used a vote extension to enable the majority Dems to pull out a victory on the floor.

Moreover, I am reminded of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's very unsatisfactory answer when he was asked two years ago whether Democrats would vow never to use vote-extending maneuvers.

How 'bout it, Dems? Do yourselves and democracy a favor by vowing to end vote-extensions in the House.

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