Jun 07, 2004
From CQ WEEKLY - EMPLOYMENT & LABOR (June 5, 2004):House Into Summer Reruns With GOP’s Procedural Gambit
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., the minority whip, dismisses the current House Republican agenda as “cud,” the regurgitated food that cows chew a second time. More politely, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls it “warmed-over stew.”
At the very least, House floor action the week of May 31 had an unmistakable air of summer reruns…
Democrats responded to the GOP tactic by reviving one of their top labor priorities, using the floor debate on the re-employment accounts to propose extending supplemental benefits for jobless workers who have exhausted their customary 26 weeks of state aid.
House Republicans have passed three such packages in the last month. The bundling of similarly themed bills has become so common that GOP aides refer to it as “MIRV-ing,” after the military abbreviation for multiple-warhead nuclear missiles.
But the tactic mystifies and increasingly annoys House Democrats. They note that the Senate has yet to act on any of the House-passed bills, before or after they were combined.
Democrats contend that the rules bundling the bills stifle debate. And they say the pattern of revisiting old proposals wastes floor time that could be better spent considering new bills.
“I think they’ve run out of ideas, I think they’ve run out of gas, I think they’ve run out of initiatives,” said Rep. Robert Menendez, of New Jersey, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “Their way is to regurgitate that which we have already passed, but not achieve legislative success. [The strategy] is the equivalent of trying to sit on the ball at the end of the game and hope you win.”
The gist of what he has to say in his weekly meeting with reporters? John Kerry is going to be president, Nancy Pelosi is going to be speaker, and Tom DeLay is going to have to deal with a Majority Leader Hoyer. Those are not Hoyer’s exact words—“My own view is that John Kerry is going to win this election” is all he’ll say—but they are the true sentiments among Hill Democrats who are beginning to feel invincible, like they have just hopped up on the mother of all political waves and that it is going to take them all the way to victory in November.
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