During his fall 2010 campaign to retake Congress for the Republican Party, House Minority Leader John Boehner decried the dysfunction of a House in which the Rules are repeatedly ignored:
Leaders overreach because the rules allow them to. Legislators duck their responsibilities because the rules help them to. And when the rules don’t suit the majority’s purposes, they are just ignored. There’s no accountability, and there are no consequences. Whether we here in Washington believe this or not, the people clearly do. Think about how our constant flouting of the rules sits with a small business owner who has to spend his or her day complying with all the mandates and regulations our government sends down. The dysfunction in Congress is not new; both parties bear the blame for it. But the dysfunction has now reached a tipping point — a point at which none of us can credibly deny that it is having a negative impact on the people we serve.
Since John Boehner took the reins as Speaker of the House, 57% of bills brought to the floor for consideration have had House Rules suspended to get them there. That’s a very quick post-victory flop: you might call it electile dysfunction.
This includes the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which is being brought up for a vote today without any consideration in committee and without any opportunity for amendments. Amendments and committee consideration would bring in new ideas, which would block the path to easy passage.
And here’s the really exasperating part: you can expect congressional Democrats to howl about it and scream “abuse of power” through the 2012 election season. Then, if they retake a House majority, you can expect them to do just the same thing as John Boehner cranks up his orange-faced teary outrage all over again.