Thursday, August 2, 2018

Red, Blue? Conservative, Liberal? Democrat, Republican? No Labels!

The No Labels organization, of which I am a member and of which I have spoken before, in conjunction with the Problem Solvers' Caucus in the US House, released a significant initiative designed to break the partisan logjam in Congress. I am committed to helping, and, in so doing, I've written to a TV station that is getting the candidates' positions on various issues, asking them to find out their position on this initiative. Another thing I planned to do is write a letter to the editor, but I made it too wordy for a simple letter. It's long enough to be a commentary and looks something like this:

The U.S. Congress has become, or seemed to become, completely dysfunctional. The Republicans are in charge and the sole thing they've managed to do is enact a tax cut for the very top of the economic class. In the prior administration, the Democrats still resorted to, for example, passing the Affordable Care Act in such a way as to shut out the Republicans. Virtually no legislation makes it to the floor with broad ( i.e.,
bipartisan ) support.

Do you ever wonder why?

A significant contributor is the rules governing the House of Representatives. These rules make it virtually impossible for bipartisan legislation to make it to the floor. And, each time these rules are considered, members rubber-stamp them for the coming session.

Two rules stand out …

Members of the Tea Party, several years back, ( re ) discovered an old House Rule (  the "motion to vacate" rule ) that allows any individual member of the House to call a vote of no confidence in the House Speaker. Any. Individual. Member. No speaker wants to face such a vote. The practical effect of this rule is that no bipartisan legislation, however popular, has a chance for consideration

Another significant problem is the ability of the Speaker to control which legislation is considered using "Regular Order" and which not. ( You might recall Senator John McCain complaining about the failure to use Regular Order at the time of his NO vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017.  ) When Regular Order is used, ordinary members of the House can suggest amendments, debate the merits of the bill, and hearings can be called. Almost no legislation today is considered using Regular Order.

A bipartisan group called No Labels was born ten years ago. It spawned a recognized caucus in the US House, the Problem Solvers' Caucus. This caucus, its history, constituent members, and rules are beyond the scope of this letter. Suffice to say it is made up of approximately 40 members from both parties, and is committed to addressing the problems faced by the U.S.

The caucus proposes a set of House Rules changes aimed at the problems mentioned as well as others. The House considers its rules right after the mid-terms and the caucus's changes could be made then.

I urge everyone who considers voting for members of the House of Representatives to be aware of the Problem Solvers' Caucus initiative, to educate themselves and other voters about it, and, especially, to tell all candidates for the House that your vote is contingent on their backing the proposed changes.

The No Labels web site has details of all this, see

If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to

No comments:

Post a Comment