Tony Blankley, Newsmax, July 2011 - How have we arrived at this place where the fate of our federal budget — our economy, indeed our capacity to have a functioning federal government — seems to depend on what two men (the speaker of the House and the president) may or may not be secretly talking about in an interior room in the White House?
representatives and senators, kept ignorant of those life-and-death
discussions, are forced to wait. When the two men are finished —
doubtlessly mere hours before "the world will end" — our elected
representatives and senators will be stampeded to vote yes for a deal
about which no one knows the details. Cattle may need to be stampeded;
elected representatives of the American people never should be so
Government by the elected representatives of the
people is coming to be government by two (or three or four) men in a
secret room pronouncing the new law that will be rubber-stamped — or
Regular order is a Washington term of art that means the
exact opposite of the writing of a bill in secret by a few congressional
leaders and the president. It means letting each house of Congress
introduce bills, hold open committee hearings, mark up the legislation
in public, vote for it, and then send it to the floor, where it is
discussed openly and then voted for and sent to the president for
Both former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and current Speaker Boehner have called for "regular order," as opposed to secret deals.
said a few years ago: "We need to stop writing bills in the speaker's
office and let members of Congress be legislators again. Too often, in
the House right now, we don't have legislators; we just have voters . . .
The institutions of the House that have grown up over 200 years of
trial and error are the best to test those ideas and policies. We don't
need five members sitting behind a closed door writing a bill," as they
did with the stimulus and Obamacare. "It's nuts."
ago, that would have been a commonplace observation. But in the past two
decades, both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses have
increasingly resorted to secret meetings and forced deals…
time we have one of these secret deal negotiations — instead of regular
order — the magnitude of the proposed change in our way of life gets
bigger, and the process gets more exclusive and sloppier. This is not
only bad legislating but also dangerous to our constitutional process.
Roman Republic eventually, during the first century B.C., gave way to
imperial dictatorship, as the Senate more and more yielded to generals
and strongmen to fix the various financial and land distribution
problems; the Senate lost the will and capacity to fix itself.