The Legislation Gap

Posted by | September 1, 2010 16:25 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The Hill reports on the huge number of bills passed by the House this year but not yet by the Senate.  Care to guess the #?

When the Senate returns from its summer break in September, lawmakers will have quite a full plate of legislation to address: 372 bills, to be exact. . . A large legislation gap between the House and Senate is not unusual; the Senate was designed, in the famous description by George Washington, as a cooling saucer. But food left out to cool too long will spoil, and so will federal legislation: By law, if a bill is not passed by both chambers in the same Congress, it must be re-introduced in January.

We can scream about ending the filibuster all we want but it ain’t gonna happen.  Too many Senators feel that they may want to use it one day.  But what we can insist on is a more transparent process.  Instead of merely requesting cloture, and then moving on if it isn’t granted, Democrats need to force the Republicans’ hand.  Shut down the Senate over a bill likely to gain public sympathy (and one where the Democrats are close to united).  Don’t proceed on any business until the Republicans cave.  Then do this again. And again.  And again until the filibusters stop.

The Democrats should have done this earlier in the year.  Of course next year, if they want to pass any legislation, they may have no choice.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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