Elections really do make a difference.
Last November 2nd, with the power of our vote, a Republican majority was voted into the House of Representatives. In the Senate, though not a majority, their numbers are increased. Not in office yet, the newly elected GOP representatives and senators are already flexing their muscle.
Fulfilling one of their most prominent campaign promises, House Republican leaders unveiled a new rule requiring each bill filed in the House “cite its specific constitutional authority.” Republicans have organized four staff briefings prior to the Jan. 5 start of the 112th Congress to provide guidance on compliance with the new rule. The first session will be Monday at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center
Now we learn that Republicans have proposed another most excellent new rule — that the 112th House of Republicans will begin on January 6 with a full reading on the House floor of our country’s founding document!
As reported by Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times on Dec. 23, 2010, “‘We the people’ to open next Congress“:
The goal…is to underscore the limited-government rules the Founders imposed on Congress – and to try to bring some of those principles back into everyday legislating.
“It stems from the debate that we’ve had for the last two years about things like the exercise of authority in a whole host of different areas by the EPA, we’ve had this debate in relation to the health care bill, the cap-and-trade legislation,” said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, who proposed the reading. “This Congress has been very aggressive in expanding the power of the federal government, and there’s been a big backlash to that.”
…The biggest changes would make it easier to cut spending and harder to create entitlement programs, while imposing restrictions that could keep leaders from jamming massive bills onto the House floor before lawmakers have had a chance to digest them.
“To begin to restore trust with the American people, Republicans have pledged to operate Congress differently: with real transparency, greater accountability and a renewed focus on the Constitution,” said Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who led the GOP’s transition team. “The sweeping reforms offered in this package make clear we intend to keep that promise.”
The Democrats, of course, are putting up a resistance. They’re not happy with House Republicans’ new rule requiring new spending to be offset by corresponding budget cuts.
In the Senate, where Demonrats will retain a majority by a much smaller margin, all returning Demonrats have signed a letter asking their Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to change the chamber’s operating rules in order to rein in repeated Republican filibusters.
Liberal legal scholars praised the movement to curtail filibusters. Happily, it’s unclear how much room there is for major changes, since Republicans are likely to be united against anything that would constrain their rights as the minority party.
We the People must stay informed and engaged, and continue to watch Congress with an eagle eye! Remember these words of warning by Thomas Jefferson
“If once they [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, 1787.