The legislature’s failure to pass a farm bill in 2013 “serves as a poster child for congressional dysfunction,” Norm Ornstein inveighed in the National Journal Thursday. Ornstein helpfully traced the origins of the odd couple that is the bill: Its bloated farm subsidies are tied to the essential food stamps program because of the historic friendship that developed in the early 1970s between George McGovern and Bob Dole.
Yesterday I argued that John Boehner's (apparently) successful taming of the right-wing insurgency within his party represents an important step toward the eventual solution of the debt ceiling crisis. Jonathan Cohn is more cautious, and guest posting Norm Ornstein is downright morose: [A] speaker can only go to the well once or twice to get his or her members to walk the plank. In this case, Boehner’s tactical maneuvers mean that he is asking two dozen or more of his colleagues to walk that plank in return for something that has no chance of becoming law.
The big news about Congressional reform lately has been over on the Senate side, but I’ll remind everyone that Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein’s The Broken Branch, published just before the Democratic sweep of 2006, probably spent more time on the House. Will House reform return? I’ll begin with the punch line: since about 1975, the House of Representatives has been the one part of the US government in which party majorities rule. That’s not going to change in 2011-2012.
Norm Ornstein on the new practice of routinely filibustering or placing holds on executive branch appointments: The partisan nature of the confirmation process has even worse side effects when it comes to executive nominees — in this case going beyond defeating some to simply preventing them from getting into their offices for as long as possible. Way too many nominations are hung up by pernicious anonymous holds (the perniciousness is not just in the anonymity but in the holds themselves).
Norm Ornstein on the absurd Sestak "scandal": If what the Obama administration did was impeachable, then Rep. Issa might want to consider retroactive impeachment action against Ronald Reagan, whose White House directly suggested to S.I.
Today's Wall Street Journal editorial page has one of those sentences that make the Wall Street Journal editorial page such a daily delight: "Last week President Obama sanctioned 'reconciliation,' a complex tactic that would jam ObamaCare into law on sheer power politics." The beautiful thing about this sentence is that it has no argument (nor is there any support for the argument in the sentences that surround it.) It's sheer hand-waving, an attempt to muster every adjective in the writer's power to make the process of voting sound frightening and sinister. Likewise, I could write, "This morn
Yesterday, Judd Gregg sent around a memo to his Republican colleagues detailing the procedural tactics they have at their disposal to hold up the health-care bill on the Senate floor. Sam Stein sums up some of the measures that Gregg describes as being at the foundation “the minority party’s rights” in the Senate: He highlights the use of hard quorum calls for any motion to proceed, as opposed to a far quicker unanimous consent provision.
Facing humungous challenges to passing strong health care reform this year, Democrats are starting to talk up the idea of reconciliation again. Republicans--shock--don’t like the idea. This March, Senator Judd Gregg compared reconciliation with “running over the minority, putting them in cement, and throwing them in the Chicago River.” But is the Senate process really that brutal? A few months back, Thomas Mann, Norm Ornstein, and Molly Reynolds wrote a piece for us (with a handy graph!) describing each instance of reconciliation since 1980. It’s a really useful historical corrective.
Amid the celebration over passage of the intelligence reform bill this week, one dissonant voice could be heard through the self-congratulatory din. The new reform bill "practically invites terrorists to come into our country," said one speaker on the House floor Tuesday evening. It is "a recipe for a disaster--the same kind of disaster that occurred on 9/11. ...