Thursday, November 4, 2010

New House rules and budget ploys

The likely majority leader in the incoming House, Eric Cantor of Virginia, has set forth some interesting ideas about how he hopes to run that chamber.It adds to ideas included in the leadership's Pledge to America.

Cantor complains of the "3-day work week and the overlapping schedule it creates" but doesn't say precisely how we wants to change it. He does say that vote-free times will be established for committee meetings.

He wants to eliminate most measures now handled by suspending the rules -- congratulatory resolutions and naming of post offices.

He wants to highlight one major oversight hearing each week and even suggests having the House debate and adopt committee reports that are investigatory rather than legislative. He laments the decline in congressional oversight of the executive but fails to note the irony in his chart, ending in 2006, which shows a steep drop in oversight during the recent GOP-controlled congresses.

On budgetary matters, he announces plans for weekly votes on rescission bills -- measures to cancel previously approved spending authority -- outside of the regular appropriations process.

He also says that bills that propose new spending have to say "explicitly" how they will be paid for. Tax cuts, of course, are not included in this requirement.

While he doesn't mention a balanced budget constitutional amendment, I expect that to be added to the Republican budget package.

What we can expect, therefore, is a publicity-sensitive series of spending reduction measures and oversight hearings that, even if enacted, will have little real impact on fiscal policy or management efficiency.

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