Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Senate Rules Committee Continues to Undermine Reform

Without notice, discussion, or explanation, the Majority in the Senate Rules Committee introduced a resolution yesterday to change the rules of that chamber that will give greater power to the Senate Majority. Likely gearing up for an upcoming budget battle, the resolution seeks to do three things:

1) Increase the membership of the Finance Committee and the Rules Committee with members from the majority party;

2) In the event of an excused absence from a meeting, allow for a member to fill in for a Senator on the Finance Committee and Rules Committee; and

3) Allow budget bills from the Finance Committee to bypass the Rules Committee and go straight to the third calendar reading.

The resolution passed committee and is headed for the Senate floor. Capitol Confidential reports that when the Minority objected to the introduction of the new rules, the Majority presented a letter from counsel overruling the objection stating that this was a “privileged resolution” that did not require advance notice.

Whatever the actual substantive impact of these changes (time will tell), the process sure makes it look like a simple power grab.

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