Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

12/28/2004

Roll Over, Tom Jefferson

With a likely race looming in Minnesota between a member of the House (Kennedy) and Senate (Dayton), the proposed House rule change brought to light by today's St. Petersburg Times could affect the way campaign 2006 is conducted. True, it would only be seen by those of us who find ourselves watching CSPAN 2 at 11PM but would constitute a significant parliamentary change nonetheless:

Thomas Jefferson was looking for a way to promote civility between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate while maintaining each chamber's independence. So he figured each body should all but ignore the other.

Now, more than 200 years after Jefferson crafted a parliamentary rule barring legislators from disparaging their esteemed colleagues in the "other chamber," House conservatives are seeking to overturn it.

The change would be largely symbolic. But in the context of today's contretemps at the Capitol, where the Senate often tempers or ignores bills passed by the more conservative House, it would give frustrated House members an outlet and, some hope, hold the offending senators more accountable.

The rule change, proposed by Florida Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, is one of 10 sought by a growing cadre of House conservatives, called the Republican Study Committee, that's pressing for more clout in the upcoming session of Congress.

Most of the proposed changes would make it more difficult, procedurally, to increase spending. None would alter history like Feeney's proposal.

He said the Jefferson-era prohibition stifles debate. "We ought to discuss current events, including what is happening or is not happening in the Senate. And, in regards to individual senators, we should be able to cite voting records, and quotes. ...


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