“This lack of transparency speaks to a larger problem where the Speaker’s office has the capacity to unilaterally draft a bill and send it straight through to the Rules Committee.
Woodrow Wilson once said that ‘Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, while Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.’ If Wilson went from committee room to committee room today, he might take that statement back. Because the truth is, much of the work of committees has been co-opted by the leadership. In too many instances, we no longer have legislators; we just have voters.
In my view, if we want to make legislators legislate again, then we need to empower them at the committee level. If Members were more engaged in their committee work, they would be more invested in the final products that come to the floor.”
– Speaker of the House John Boehner, September 30 2010
The House of Representatives has set a vote for Tuesday, February 8 to reauthorize the Patriot Act for another year. The vote on H.R. 514 will come despite the fact that neither of the committees to which the bill was sent on January 26 have met to consider it. The House Intelligence Committee will not hold its first meeting until Thursday February 10, and no markups or hearings on H.R. 514 or any other Patriot Act legislation has been scheduled by the Judiciary Committee at all.
How can this be? In order to pass H.R. 514 tomorrow and reauthorize the Patriot Act so quickly, the Republican majority has suspended the Rules that it put in place to such fanfare just last month.