CONGRESSŐ RULES
HARLAN M. SMITH
3/4/00

Congressional rules permit several practices that are completely undemocratic and that cause endless trouble. There should be a mass citizen movement to force proper changes in Congressional rules to end those practices.

1. The filibuster.
This enables a single senator to defeat the will of a majority. Once a senator has had ample chance to present his view on a bill and to engage in proper debate with others over it, the senator should remain silent on the matter. Filibuster and obvious prolonging of action after issues have been aired should be absolutely prohibited and a vote taken. Upon appeal after the vote, a senator can be given an additional hour to argue his case if he has something different to say, and then a second binding vote taken when at least as many members of the chamber are present as before.

2. The power exercised by the chair of a committee over holding hearings.
Evidently the committee chair can even refuse to hold hearings on a bill. There should be ample opportunity for open hearings on any bill subject to the committeeŐs jurisdiction.

3. The power of a chair to block opposition to the chairŐs view on an issue.
It appears as though the committee chairŐs view on any matter before the committee is almost never overruled even though a majority of the committee could overrule the chair and present a majority report of the committee that the chair would prefer to block.

4. Irrelevant riders on bills.
A bill on any subject can have attached to it irrelevant riders on different subjects in the hope that they can sneak by since the majority will support the bill. If it is not an amendment, no separate vote is required on adding the rider.

5. Absence of hearing on riders.
Riders are attached to bills without having separate hearing on the riders.

6. Riders attached late.
Riders are attached to bills so late in the process that many members are unaware that riders have been attached to which they might object.


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