Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Daily Strike-1/25/09-Vocab Word I

Sunday's are usually slow in politics, so today's Daily Strike will be the first in a series of vocabulary lessons that can help us understand the ins and outs of Congress. Today's term is "Special Rule." When the House of Representatives considers a bill, it first must pass a rule that governs debate. The rule originates in the Rules Committee, which is an arm of the Majority leadership. The current chairwoman is Louise Slaughter of New York, and the ranking Republican is David Dreier of California (you'll frequently see him debating the rules and complaining about how the minority has been shut out of the legislative process). The Rules Committee customarily is heavily weighted in the majority's favor. There are three types of rules that govern debate. An open rule allows for any member to offer amendments. This is pretty unusual, because you don't want your members to have to take tough votes on amendments proposed by the other side. A modified open rule allows amendments predetermined by the rules committee. A closed rule allows no amendments. Most bills these days are considered under closed rules, which the minority party often complains about. The rule must be voted upon before debate can officially begin on a bill. The vote on the rule usually is along party lines. Why is this important? The rules committee can help the majority achieve its will by limiting the minority's power to affect legislation.

Elsewhere today:

-Not much news coming from the Sunday talk-shows, except that John McCain claims he will not support the stimulus bill in its current form. This is not surprising, although it could be a sign that McCain's renewed maverick streak is coming to a close.

-The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, talked about the appointment of Gillibrand, saying that her one concern was that the Democrats may lose her House seat. This concern, of course, is very valid. There were rumors that Gillibrand and Pelosi had a less than harmoneous relationship, but both vehemently deny any tension.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the Weekly Strike, an overview of the coming week in Congress, and tomorrow's Daily Strike.

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