Search This Blog

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Deliberation and Regular Order

Former Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN)  reiterates a point that he has made before, writing that the congressional "regular order" can be complicated and slow.
This can take months, if not years. Why bother?
Because the process may be convoluted, but its values are not. It is designed to ensure fairness, attentive deliberation, and a bedrock concern for building consensus that avoids riding roughshod over the concerns of the minority and throwing wrenches into the plans of the majority.
Different voices get heard through the regular order, opposing views get considered, and our representatives get the chance to ask hard questions, consider the merits of various approaches, propose alternatives, smooth out problems, build consensus, knock out bad ideas, and refine good ideas to make better laws.
These are not minor things. As a general rule, the better and fairer the process, the higher the quality of the legislation that comes out of it — and the higher the likelihood that it will find broad acceptance in the nation at large and be  effectively implemented.
Sadly, the reverse is true as well. When those in positions of power within Congress start acting as though the process does not matter, the institution loses legitimacy among its own members and, more importantly, among the American people.
He says that the increased use of omnibus bills and filibusters has undercut regular order and institutional legitimacy.