Monday, January 4, 2010

Playing Ping Pong With The Constitution

Is this what the founders of this republic and the authors of the Constitution envisioned when creating a representative form of government?

Did they ever imagine that bill a that transforms a sixth of the US economy would be reconciled and passed without any input of the minority party?

Apparently this is what is about to happen in Congress where, as The New Republic reports, the process of reconciliation will be "informal" so that they can bypass any input from the Republicans. As TNR reports:

Now that both the House and Senate have passed health care reform bills, all Democrats have to do is work out a compromise between the two versions. And it appears they’re not about to let the Republicans gum up the works again.

According to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps--not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate--that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.

“There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference,” the House staffer says. “There are too many procedural hurdles to go the formal conference route in the Senate.”

One reason Democrats expect Republicans to keep trying procedural delays is that the Republicans have signaled their intent to do so. On Christmas Eve, when the
Senate passed its bill, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell memorably vowed in a
floor speech that “This fight isn't over. My colleagues and I will work to stop
this bill from becoming law."

“I think the Republicans have made our decision for us," the Senate staffer says. "It’s time for a little ping-pong.”

“Ping pong” is a reference to one way the House and Senate could proceed. With ping-ponging, the chambers send legislation back and forth to one another until they finally have an agreed-upon version of the bill. But even ping-ponging can take different forms and some people use the term generically to refer to any informal negotiations

What the Democrats are failing to realize is that eventually the pendulum will swing and the Republicans in power will emulate the methodology they are using today. The losers of all these shenanigans are "we the people." Shame on them!

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