One of the reasons Washington works so well for the well-connected is because opaque congressional procedures often determine the real policy outcome well in advance of the actual policy debate.
This afternoon will provide yet another example of such duplicitous maneuver.
The House will vote on a rule to govern debate on a seemingly innocuous pro-life bill introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc. On the merits, Duffy’s bill is a good one. It would explicitly allow states to deny Planned Parenthood access to state Medicaid money.
The Obama administration has fought states that have sought to take this defunding approach.
Here’s the problem: the rule governing debate for that pro-life bill will also grant the House what is called “same day authority.”
If the rule is adopted, the House will have the ability to consider any bill at any time during the next three days with virtually no notice.
In 2010, House Republicans, including current Rules Committee Chairman
Pete Sessions, R-Texas., decried Democrat’s use of this (also called “martial law”) saying that it was “the ultimate tool to avoid accountability.”
The report went on to say that martial law “was designed to stifle debate, rush legislation through with little or no scrutiny, and keep the American people out of the loop.”
What does all of this mean from a practical standpoint?
Adoption of “same day authority” will allow the House to expedite consideration and passage of the continuing resolution (CR) that continues Planned Parenthood funding once that bill passes the House.
Put another away, the pro-life lawmakers are being asked to vote in favor of a rule that paves the way for an anti-life bill becoming law for a show vote that will die without a vote in Mitch McConnell’s Senate.
House Republican leaders should not be putting their pro-life members in this position.
Sessions was correct back in 2010 when he and his colleagues criticized Democrats for “employing heavy-handed tactics, parliamentary maneuvering” and thus “by ignoring the will of the American people.”
The clearest way for pro-life members to register their objection to this heavy-handed maneuvering is to oppose that rule vote later today.
In the immortal words of former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving member in the history of Congress, “If you let me write the procedure and I let you write the substance, I’ll [beat] you every time.”