Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier). All time yielded during consideration of this rule is for debate only.
I yield myself such time as I may consume. I also ask unanimous consent that all Members be given 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on House Resolution 1197.
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would like to begin by expressing my great appreciation to my very dear friend, the distinguished and very able Chair of the Committee on Rules, my friend from Rochester (Ms. Slaughter).
And with all due respect to my distinguished committee Chair, I am compelled, not surprisingly, to rise in the strongest possible opposition to this rule.
Over the last 1 1/2 years, my colleagues Messrs. DIAZ-BALART, HASTINGS, and SESSIONS have stood right here at this lectern and opposed many, many deeply flawed rules. We began this Congress very inauspiciously as the leadership jammed through the opening week agenda before even bothering to set up the Rules Committee, allowing Ms. Slaughter to become Chair of that committee. From the very outset, there has been no pretense of concern for due process, not an inkling of
respect for the rules of this House.
While we started at a low point, we have sunk lower and lower with each subsequent rule. One by one the Democratic leadership has trampled the rules and traditions of this body in an effort to shut down debate, cut both Republicans and Democrats out of the process, and jam through poorly constructed bills that rarely, rarely, if ever, become public law. I frequently marvel at each new low and assume that we have reached the rock bottom. As we have considered new forms of restrictive rules crafted
under an ever-more restrictive process, I have often thought, ``This one takes the cake. The Democratic leadership couldn't possibly stoop any lower than this.'' Until the next comes, shutting down due process to an even greater degree.
So this time I'm not going to say that this rule is the absolute bottom of the barrel. I don't doubt that with a little more time and effort, based on the track record we've seen, the Democratic leadership will find a way to trample the rules and traditions of this House even more thoroughly. I will say that this is clearly the worst example that we've seen in the last 17 months since they have been in charge.
But before I get into the details of this egregious rule, Madam Speaker, I think it's important to discuss why it even matters what kind of a process is used to craft legislation and hold votes. I know the inner workings of the Rules Committee are thought to be so arcane that even some of our colleagues consider them to be a little too ``inside baseball.'' In fact, the distinguished Chair just spent all of her time talking about the bill itself. She didn't talk about the fact that they're trampling
on the rights of Republicans and Democrats. Start talking about rules and procedure and regular order, and most Americans' eyes, and even some of our colleagues', start to glaze over.
So to illustrate why process matters, I will use another set of rules that are [Page: H3893]
more widely understood as an example. Even before the advent of the television show Law & Order, most of us were familiar with the basics of our criminal justice system. We're all familiar with our basic rights enshrined in the Constitution. We cannot be held without a charge. We're protected from self-incrimination and unlawful searches and seizures. We must be read our Miranda
rights when placed under arrest. These basic rights are fundamental, fundamental, Madam Speaker, to American democracy. We know that there can be no justice without a fair process, and we know that the protection of the rights of the individual is more important than the outcome of any one particular case.
The Bill of Rights and the laws that have been enacted to uphold it aren't just a cryptic system of rules and regulations. They guarantee, Madam Speaker, they guarantee our civil rights and they guard against tyranny. Without a fair process, power is abused and rights are abridged. Process matters, Madam Speaker. Process matters because process is democracy.
The rules of the House were established for the very same reason. They ensure that the American people, through their elected representatives, have a say in the crafting of laws that govern them. The rules guard against abuses of power, and they ensure that the legislative process is transparent and fair. Thwarting due process is not just arcane political maneuvering around obscure, complicated rules that no one should care about. It subverts the principles of representative democracy. Let me
say again, Madam Speaker, the rule that we are considering at this moment very clearly subverts the principles of representative democracy.
The Democratic leadership's casual disregard for these rules and principles has faced growing criticism in the media. Last week the Politico accused them of ``breaking promises,'' promises for an open legislative process that followed regular order and the rules of the House. Not surprisingly, the paper cited today's underlying bill, the supplemental appropriations, as Exhibit A in the Democrats' assault on an open and inclusive process, which was promised at the beginning of this Congress. That's
not my saying that; that's an independent newspaper that made that statement.
Even before the new lows of the supplemental, another publication, Investors Business Daily, reported recently on the leadership's ``widening power grab,'' accusing them of ``anti-democratic'' behavior, running a ``dictatorship,'' and ``showing little or no concern for holding actual votes or building consensus on issues.'' Now, Madam Speaker, those are pretty harsh charges coming from a newspaper that is clearly a very independent publication. And they go on to say that this is all being done
in an effort to ``manipulate Congress.'' Madam Speaker, ``dictatorship'' and ``anti-democratic,'' those are pretty harsh words, but they are clearly warranted.
The process used to craft the underlying supplemental appropriations bill has been atrocious. Committee work was completely abandoned. Without a single hearing, without a markup, without so much as consulting Mr. Lewis and the committee members, this bill was concocted behind closed doors. Zero input, zero deliberation, zero consultation. The Senate, of course, won't stand for that kind of treatment and intends to hold a markup later today before proceeding with its floor debate. But
the Democratic leaders in this House apparently deem this to be a lesser body, with no right to due process.
The Democratic leadership intended to bring this bill up last week. They had to pull it from the schedule because fiscally conservative Members within their own caucus were outraged at the contents. A week later, Madam Speaker, a backroom deal has now been struck, bringing the remaining Democratic Members on board. How? Bringing Members on board by imposing a tax on small businesses in this country, which is exactly what this is. You see, Democrats love to stir up class warfare by justifying
the small business tax as just a tax on the rich. Unless, of course, we are talking about millionaire farmers, and then they like to give them massive government payouts, which is what they did just yesterday in the farm bill.
To add to their inconsistency, they actually waived their own PAYGO rule to fund the farm bill subsidies, and today they refuse to waive the same PAYGO rule and use it as an excuse to levy massive tax increases on small businessmen and women in this country. Only in Washington would such logic be employed.
We became aware of the rough outline of this tax increase, along with every other provision of this bill, only through press reports. Some have reported a $183 billion price tag on this bill. Others have said it would be costing at least $250 billion. Various outlets reported on various provisions. But we didn't get a chance to see for ourselves what was in this massive bill until 3 p.m. yesterday. In fact, the distinguished former Chair of the Committee on Appropriations, the now ranking member,
my good friend, Mr. Lewis, came before us. Within the hour before that 3 p.m. meeting, he had just gotten the copy of the measure.
Most egregious of all, we're not actually considering a bill here today. We will be voting on three amendments to a Senate amendment to an old House bill that has already passed but was never enacted. Did you catch that? If it sounds gimmicky and underhanded, that's because that's exactly what it is. In fact, this morning I heard our colleague Mr. McDermott on National Public Radio, where he said the crafting of this is tantamount to JOHN KERRY's very famous line in which he said
``I voted for it before I voted against it.'' The Democratic leadership knows that a vote on their full package would never pass; so they plotted a way around an actual vote on final passage.
For anyone who missed that, let me repeat. The House of Representatives will not be permitted a vote on the full underlying proposal. When Investors Business Daily calls this a dictatorship, they seem to have a point.
So what exactly is in this $183-250 billion bill that comes to us without any due process and will pass without a vote? Who can say for sure? But I know that at least $62 billion in new entitlements are included; $11 billion in unemployment insurance, and our friend Mr. Weller will be talking about this in a few minutes; and at least $51 billion in benefits for veterans. Clearly, these are very, very important issues that need to be addressed.
I don't doubt that the Democratic majority will try to claim that Republicans don't care about our veterans or those facing economic hardship. We hear that time and time again. To the contrary, these are such critically important issues for us that we passionately believe that we must address them in a serious and deliberative way. It is simply not good enough to slap together a proposal without a single moment of testimony or debate, throw some money at our problems, and call it a day.
The very critical issues addressed in this bill, from funding for Iraq and Afghanistan to international food assistance to the tremendously important domestic programs, all of these deserve a substantive, deliberative process. We should have an opportunity to examine which of these are truly emergencies and which should be included in the regular appropriations process. And all of them should have the benefit of an open debate to ensure that we are addressing our priorities effectively.
This rule allows for none of this, Madam Speaker. It thwarts the rules and traditions that were put in place to guard against abuses of power, and it blocks consideration of even a single amendment, including the very thoughtful and responsible alternative proposed by the man sitting to my right here, the distinguished ranking member of the committee, Mr. Lewis. He's offered a clean supplemental appropriations bill which simply provides our troops the funding they need without bogging
it down with all kinds of unrelated items or adding new policy that prevents them from carrying out their mission.
Our hope is to get this critical funding to our troops before Memorial Day, which is fast approaching. That's not an arbitrary deadline and it's not a gimmick. Our military commanders have told us that they desperately need this funding now, and we want to be able to go home for Memorial Day and tell our veterans and our military families that we passed a clean bill that funds our troops and their mission. We [Page: H3894]
want to tell them we crafted a bill without
regard to politics, without regard to providing political cover or fodder for political ads. We simply gave the troops the funding they desperately need. Now, Madam Speaker, that's exactly what the distinguished ranking member, Mr. Lewis, should be able to provide, and I'm going to seek an opportunity for him to do just that.
But, unfortunately, the Democratic majority can't advance their flawed policies without shutting down the process. So they prefer closed rules to open debate. They prefer backroom deals to the transparent committee process. They prefer hollow, ill-gotten victories that die after the House vote to substantive, bipartisan legislation that is enacted into law. That's exactly what we need to do, Madam Speaker.
So I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule, and I am going to urge a ``no'' vote on the previous question.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts, a member of the Rules Committee (Mr. McGovern).
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, I notice my colleague doesn't spend any time at all talking about the rule which is being considered at this time and shutting down democracy which we all aspire to in Iraq and other places in the world.
With that, I would like to yield 4 minutes to the author of the very important measure that will be made in order if we are able to defeat the previous question, a clean supplemental, my good friend from Redlands, the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. Lewis.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate my colleague yielding me this time.
Perhaps the most important counsel I have ever received came from my dear friend and mentor, Dr. Adeline Gunther. ``Gram,'' as we called her, was the founder and guiding light of the University Religious Conference located near the UCLA campus. Gram said to me, ``Always remember, Jerry, what you are not willing to do in order to win.''
Think about that. What you are not willing to do in order to win.
Those running the Democratic leadership of the House need desperately to learn that lesson. So enamored with their power after 12 years out of the majority, the Democrat majority is now moving rapidly in the direction of reinventing the authoritarian system that was a part of their control for the previous 40 years.
The outrageous movement of the Iraq supplemental to the House floor, without consideration by the Committee on Appropriations and under a closed rule, is the case in point.
The supplemental began as a $108 billion request for funding requirements for the troops for the remainder of 2008. This must-pass emergency legislation has now grown to somewhere near $250 billion. A whole array of legislative provisions has been added that could have been and should have been addressed by way of regular order during the appropriations process.
Unfortunately, the supplemental will bypass the Appropriations Committee altogether, and through use of parliamentary trickery, avoid the inconvenient input of Democrat and Republican Members who have real expertise in the subject areas involved.
Regular order is designed to ensure that people's voices and interests are heard on serious public policy questions as they move through the legislative process. To have the Democrat leadership cut off the people's right to be heard by such a crass parliamentary set of maneuvers results in great harm to the Appropriations Committee and seriously undermines the credibility of the world's most admired legislative body.
Only three or four Members, at most, have provided serious input throughout this misguided process. All Members, Democrats and Republicans alike, should be enraged by this arrogant demonstration of dictatorial control. I know from private conversations with many of my friends on the other side of the aisle that there is a great deal of frustration among Democrats with Chairman Obey and Speaker Pelosi for their excessive and abusive control of this process.
Madam Speaker, let me assure you that my colleagues and I will continue to exercise every tool available to us to protect the established traditions of the House and the fundamentals of our democratic system. It is clear that Speaker Pelosi is willing to do anything, including stifling the voices of nearly every Member of the House, to win.
I urge all of my colleagues to remember the words of my mentor, Dr. [Page: H3895]
Adeline Gunther, who said, ``Always remember what you are not willing to do in order to win.''
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. I thank the Rules chairwoman for yielding to me.
Fourteen million dollars in an hour, 24/7, over 5 years, $10 billion per month, 4,000 dead Americans, tens of thousands of wounded warriors, untold sacrifice of military families, innocent civilians in Iraq killed by the hundreds of thousands, and one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. That is the cost of this war.
And do you know, the President says that he has sacrificed, too. Yes. He has sacrificed. He has given up golf.
And the President has determined to veto the bill when it gets to him because it includes really a patriot tax on people who make over $1 million. They are going to help to pay for things like an expanded GI Bill for our veterans that come back, a GI Bill that will cost about 5 months in Iraq over 10 years, and yet the President has said that he wants to----
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, at this time I am very happy to yield 3 minutes to the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on the Budget, my friend from Janesville, Wisconsin (Mr. Ryan).
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, let me say in the name of saying they are taxing the rich, the facts show it. Eighty-two percent of the people who fall in that category are small businessmen and women. That's just the facts.
With that, I am happy to yield 3 minutes to my good friend from Morris, Illinois (Mr. Weller), the ranking member of the Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee of Ways and Means.
Mr. WELLER of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I rise to oppose this rule. I also rise to oppose the way that the House majority, the Democratic majority, is managing this legislation, bringing forward a fiscal year irresponsible supplemental bill.
I would note, as I recall, on January 29, the Speaker of the House made a statement on the bipartisan economic stimulus package that was about to pass, and Speaker Pelosi said, ``Let's hope for the Senate to take their lead from us and be disciplined, focused, fiscally responsible, and act in a timely, temporary, and targeted way on behalf of meeting the needs of the American people.''
I agree with the Speaker that we should act in a way that is timely, temporary and targeted.
Unfortunately, that's not what the House is being offered today. In addition to a large tax increase, the bill before us today includes an untargeted and overly expensive extension of unemployment benefits.
Consistent with the Speaker's call for targeting help to those who need it most, I introduced legislation and offered an amendment in the Ways and Means Committee to focus extended unemployment benefits on people and States with relatively high or fast-rising unemployment rates.
Combined with regular unemployment benefits available in all States under my amendment, a total of 39 weeks of benefits would be available to unemployed workers whose jobs are hardest to find. On Main Street U.S.A. that helps those who need the help most. Yet this targeted approach was rejected by our Democratic colleagues, the majority on the committee.
Why target benefits? Why target benefits to only relatively high unemployment States? For the same reason, the Democratic legislation proposes longer benefits in high unemployment States because workers there have a harder time finding new jobs and thus are in need of extended benefits.
Targeting is especially important today since today's national unemployment rate is a low 5.0 percent with a third of all States having unemployment rates below 4 percent. That national unemployment rate is well below the lowest prior level when such a program was created in the past. I have a note in 2002 it was 5.7 percent, and, again, today's unemployment rate is 5 percent.
This targeted approach that I offered is also more fiscally responsible. The untargeted Democratic approach costs at least twice as much as a targeted approach and, as the Congressional Budget Office has reported, the Democrat legislation will require State tax increases to pay those additional costs.
The bill before the House would require State tax increases, State tax hikes, totaling $1 billion over just next 5 years.
If this program is extended, as all such temporary programs have been, the tax increases required will only grow. The Speaker was right, we need to act in a way that is fiscally responsible and targeted.
Unfortunately, this legislation before us today achieves neither of these goals and adds to budget deficits and requires payroll tax increases. We can and should do better than this.
Mr. LEVIN. Amendment 3 concerns unemployment compensation. It's estimated that in the first 6 months of this year, 1.3 million Americans will exhaust their benefits. The number of long-term unemployed Americans is almost twice as high now as it was in the last recession.
This is targeted at the long-term unemployed wherever they live. The Republican approach, Mr. Weller's approach, the President's opposition, it's not targeted. It misses tens of thousands of people who are unemployed for more than the 26 weeks. I come from Michigan with a high unemployment level. I want all the unemployed long-term to be covered wherever they live.
I think it's time that the minority and the President get out of the offices they reside in and get into the shoes of typical American families.
I read a letter that came from a person in Roseville whose husband had lost his job as a machinist:
``With the job market as bleak as it is today, the fear that unemployment benefits may run out is something no family should have to face. My husband has been actively seeking work since his layoff, but there's simply nothing to be had right now. I've never seen him look so sad and upset in all our nearly 30 years of marriage. The President and Congress must be made to understand that what is happening to the workers of this country, and most especially, to the people of Michigan is not something
they've chosen for themselves.''
Opposition to extension of unemployment compensation is unconscionable. I urge support for amendment 3.
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, I understand that my good friend from Cleveland was unable to get time from his side of the aisle.
And so at this time I am happy to yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Cleveland, the Democratic Presidential candidate, Mr. Kucinich.
Mr. KUCINICH. Madam Speaker, I regretfully oppose this rule, not because I lack appreciation for the work of my colleagues in trying to craft a bill that would get consensus, but because we are right back to where we were in January of 2007. We made a commitment that we would take control of this Congress and would end the war. Now, with this bill, we are saying we will set a goal of 18 months from now. So what happens 18 months from now? We have to end this war by stopping the funding.
In this bill we are telling the Iraqis they are going to have to pay for the reconstruction. We are telling the Iraqis they are going to have to give a discount price for oil, so they are going to subsidize the war against their own country.
We are losing a lot in this war, not only hundreds of billions of dollars, not only the lives of our troops, not only the injuries, but we are also losing our sense of humanity and compassion. There have been over 1 million innocent Iraqis killed as a result of this war.
Vote against this rule.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Inslee).
(Mr. INSLEE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. INSLEE. Madam Speaker, I support this rule, in part, because it allows Congress to finally rein in an out-of-control policy by the administration in Iraq.
For too long our Congress has stood by while an administration has pursued a course in Iraq fraught with peril, with no plan for its conclusion, with no plan for resolution, with no meaningful plan for international involvement, to end this problem in Iraq. While Congress has not reined in this administration, the American people have been raising a hue and cry for relief from this negligent lack of plan in Iraq.
I came across, a few weeks ago, some work that some citizens had done to provide an exit strategy from Iraq. This is a plan called A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. It was organized by a group of citizens, a woman from Carnation, Washington, named Darcy Burner. It is endorsed by considerable military thinking, endorsed by Major General Paul Eaton, U.S. Army, retired, former Security Transition Commanding General in Iraq; Dr. Lawrence Korb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the
Reagan administration; Brigadier General John Johns, specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building; Captain Larry Seaquist, U.S. Navy, retired, former commander of the USS Iowa and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning.
Here is a plan that has considerable parallels to the amendment we will be allowed to offer to finally having some responsible plan to end the war in Iraq. A meaningful timetable, a statement about permanent bases, meaningful requirements for not overburdening our military. It's time, simply, for Congress to act. This rule allows us to do so. We should pass it.
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, with that, I am happy to yield 1 minute to the very distinguished gentlewoman from Brooksville, Florida (Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite).
Mr. DREIER. Let me yield to my very good friend from Wichita, who is a member of the Appropriations Committee and who has worked long and hard here, for 1 minute.
(Mr. TIAHRT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. OBEY. No. I didn't interrupt you. You always ask someone to yield in order to interrupt their train of thought. I would appreciate if you would stop doing that with me.
Mr. OBEY. We pay for that by providing what the majority leader refers to as a patriots' premium, a one-half of 1 percent increase in taxes for the most fortunate people in this society who make more than a million bucks a year.
If you think that is even a close question, whether we ought to put the GIs before those fortunate folks, then it is no wonder you lost the seat in Mississippi 2 days ago.
Mr. DREIER. Madam Speaker, let me yield myself 30 seconds.
Let me begin by apologizing to my friend from Wausau. The notion of engaging in debate on the House floor is something I feel strongly about, and I am always happy to yield to people when they make requests for me to yield. I was simply asking my friend to [Page: H3901]
yield because of the fact that the $40 billion post-9/11 supplemental about which my friend complained and referred to as ``this crowd'' came to this floor under unanimous consent, a bipartisan agreement.
And the three supplemental appropriations, Madam Speaker, about which my friend referred, never, never, denied a motion to recommit to the minority. And I ensured as chairman of the Rules Committee at that time the right of the minority would, in fact, be maintained.
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to yield 1 minute to my friend from Auburn, Washington, the former sheriff, DAVID REICHERT.
Mr. REICHERT. Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this rule. Yesterday the Culberson-Reichert-Shays Iraqi reconstruction amendment was offered and subsequently ruled out of order before the Rules Committee.
The intent of this amendment was to allow for the recent gains in Iraq to continue and at the same time reduce the burden on American taxpayers. Since April 2003, United States taxpayers have spent more than $46 billion in reconstruction in Iraq.
This amendment would have allowed us to begin to reduce American taxpayer dollars going to Iraq for reconstruction. This amendment would have directed that U.S. taxpayer dollars going to Iraq, to come to Iraq in the form of a loan. It would have enabled the Iraqis to still have a steady flow of reconstruction funding should they be unable to draw down their own funds.
Now is the time, especially with skyrocketing oil prices, for the Iraqis to stand up and take responsibility for their own reconstruction. In order for the Iraqi Government to stand up their economy, they must take the responsibility, they must bear the costs for reconstruction of their own country, not the American taxpayer. I oppose this rule.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, let me say to my colleagues, voting for this rule gives the President not only what he has asked for the funding of the troops, but allows the people in the House who oppose that to have an opportunity to vote ``no.''
We also note, in response to Mr. Reichert, that it does have an orderly withdrawal of troops beginning in December 2009, ending in 18 months.
This is a well-crafted piece of legislation of which I am extremely proud. I urge everyone to vote for the bill and rule and the underlying bill.
The material previously referred to by Mr. Dreier is as follows:
Amendment to H. Res. 1197 Offered by Mr. Dreier of California
Strike section 2, re-designate section 3 as section 2, and add at the end the following:
SEC. 3. Prior to consideration of the motion specified in section 1, and without intervention of any point of order, it shall be in order for Representative LEWIS of California or his designee to offer the motion specified in section 4. Such motion shall be separately debatable for one hour equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to its adoption without intervening motion.
SEC. 4. The motion referred to in section 4 is a motion to concur in the Senate amendment to H.R. 2642 with an amendment striking the matter proposed to be inserted by the Senate amendment and inserting in lieu thereof the text of H.R. 6026 as introduced on May 13. 2008.
(The information contained herein was provided by Democratic Minority on multiple occasions throughout the 109th Congress.)
The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means
This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Democratic majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.
Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, (VI, 308-311) describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the
previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry,
asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.''
Because the vote today may look bad for the Democratic majority they will say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution ..... [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the definition of the previous question used in the Floor Procedures Manual published by the Rules Committee in the 109th Congress, (page 56). Here's how the Rules
Committee described the rule using information form Congressional Quarterly's ``American Congressional Dictionary'': ``If the previous question is defeated, control of debate shifts to the leading opposition member (usually the minority Floor Manager) who then manages an hour of debate and may offer a germane amendment to the pending business.'' [Page: H3902]
Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to
the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.''
Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Democratic majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.