From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog: Laying the House smack down

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Laying the House smack down

Atrios links to this press release from House Minority Leader Pelosi. The opening paragraph:

The Republican majority promised after the 1994 elections to manage the House in a way that fostered "deliberative democracy," which they defined as the "full and free airing of conflicting opinions through hearings, debates, and amendments." They also pledged in their Contract with America to "restore accountability to Congress" and to "end its cycle of scandal and disgrace." Instead of sticking to their word, they have broken their promises, betrayed the public trust, and abused their power. Specifically, they have undermined the ethics of the House, abandoned any principle of procedural fairness or democratic accountability, and overreached into private family matters and the federal judiciary.
I like the idea of hoisting the house Republicans on their own pitard with the Contract with America. In addition to hanging them with their own supposed ideals, it also helps bind the current house Repubs with the ousted House leader of the time, Newt Gingrich. A nice way to tie in the idea that the current House corruption has run full circle.

Couple of other choice bits I liked:

Republicans effectively shut down the ethics process. Republicans made their first order of business for the 109th Congress to attack the Ethics Committee, rewriting many of its bipartisan rules in favor of rules that will make ethics investigations more difficult to pursue. The new rules seriously weaken enforcement by automatically dismissing any ethics complaint after 45 days unless a majority of the bipartisan committee votes to begin an investigation. The GOP rules change allows one party to block the Ethics Committee from investigating the facts of the complaint. The former Republican chairman of the Ethics Committee said: "The rules package adopted by the House in January stands to undermine the committee's mission, not to mention the integrity of the House." (Congress Daily AM, 3/16/05) That the GOP's first priority for the 109th Congress has been to lower the bar of integrity should be a warning to the American people.

Not only did Republicans undermine the ethics process, but they stacked the Ethics Committee. At the beginning of the year, the Republican Leadership dismissed Republican Members of the Ethics Committee, even the Chairman, who had refused to compromise the ethics rules for the party leadership. And then, the newly appointed Chairman unilaterally fired non-partisan Committee staff who assisted in the ethics work in the last session. In a statement to the press, the departing Chairman of the Committee stated "(t)here is a bad perception out there that there was a purge in the Committee and that people were put in that would protect our side of the aisle better than I did," and a replaced Republican Member noted his belief that "the decision (regarding his dismissal) was a direct result of our work in the last session."
Helps counter the charges by DeLay that this has been some kind of partisan witch hunt. It also really brings to the fore just how much they've contorted the rules to try and circle the wagons to protect their own. Hopefully a sign of things to come from the minority leadership as they try to take back the House and Senate.