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Process Foul

Dems Pledge “Spirited Debate” on Tax Hikes in the One Place They Can’t Lose – The Rules Committee 

September 16, 2010 

Dems Pledge “Spirited Debate” on Tax Hikes in the One Place They Can’t Lose – The Rules Committee 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi - “[W]e promised the American people that we would have the most honest and open government and we will.” (Press conference, December 6, 2006).

As more and more House Democrats publicly oppose the coming tax hikes being pushed by their own leadership, the Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee has pledged to hold a “spirited debate” in the one venue where the Majority is confident in their ability to rig the outcome – the House Rules Committee.  With a super-majority margin of 9-4, the Rules Committee Majority has a guaranteed ability to win any debate that takes place there, no matter how “spirited” it is.  Is this empty promise a sign the Democratic Leadership is running out of options to deal with the mounting mutiny over the tax hike debate?

It all began early this week when the Republican members of the Rules Committee wrote to Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) asking that the Rules Committee allow a “full-fledged debate that considers all policy positions seeking to lower the tax burden for all Americans and getting our economy back on track” on the House floor.  Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) followed up on this request with a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asking for an “open and fair debate when the House considers legislation to extend tax relief for all Americans.”   

Chairwoman Slaughter’s response?  We can have a debate, but only in the Rules Committee.  According to Congress Daily A.M. today, “Slaughter says she will permit ‘spirited debate’ between Republicans and Democrats – at least within her committee – on the issue.”   As Chairwoman Slaughter surely knows, this hollow offer of “spirited debate” in the Rules Committee means nothing.  After all, it was she who attempted to use her super Majority there to circumvent an up-or-down vote on the Majority’s unpopular healthcare legislation with the infamous Slaughter Solution.  The public outcry was so great that even Democratic members of the Rules Committee were relieved when it was abandoned, proclaiming that “sanity” had prevailed. 

House Rules Committee Ranking Republican David Dreier (R-CA) said this empty promise of “spirited debate” from Chairwoman Slaughter may be an indication that the Majority knows it’s on the losing side of the tax hike argument.  “Every day, more and more Democrats are pleading with their Leadership to let them vote to prevent a tax hike on families and small businesses alike.  The bipartisan consensus that tax hikes are bad for a struggling economy is only growing.  Yet Chairwoman Slaughter and Speaker Pelosi refuse to see the obvious.  We need to have a fair and thorough debate on the floor of the House on this critical issue.  The American people deserve nothing less.”

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