Thursday, July 7, 2016

the virtues of "regular order"

Two cheers for Congress! Despite its many failures to overcome gridlock on numerous bipartisan issues -- Zika funding, sentencing reform, gun purchases by terrorist sympathizers -- segments of the legislative branch are doing valuable work. The armed services committees have shepherded their defense authorization bills through their chambers and are now starting to reconcile differences so that there will be a defense bill for the 54th year in a row.  As part of that process, the House Armed Services Committee today has a hearing  with former Pentagon officials on defense reform.

In another welcome sign, that committee is pairing with a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee for a hearing on South China Sea issues. All too often, congressional panels jealousy guard their turf. Yet here is an issue with both military and foreign policy factors, and both are getting reviewed. 

And while House appropriators can't pass their bills because of minor flaps over issues like Confederate flags, the Senate Appropriations Committee has now reported every one of the annual appropriations bills. This still may not prevent a last-minute omnibus before adjournment in October, but it is good news.

When Congress follows the regular order, and puts enacting legislation above forcing the opposition to cast embarrassing votes, the country is better off.

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