House set to 'cloak' amnesty
May 19, 2002 3:04 PM   Subscribe

House set to 'cloak' amnesty I have long believed that all bills ought to be limited strictly to the major content of the Bill under discussion and not allow for riders and questionable bills to be tacked on in order to slip them through when there seemingly is going to be stiff opposition. This tacking on seems a favorite gambit in Congress, and it does not matter for me what the bill but (that is, whether I like or oppose it) but the priciple: a bill ought to be about a spcific issue and not contain elements not connected, which mayh slip through or help defeat at otherwise decent bill. Am I wrong in this?
posted by Postroad (18 comments total)
why do you hate america so? why do you want the terrorists to win? oh, shit. my tongue is stuck in my cheek.
posted by quonsar at 3:27 PM on May 19, 2002

I agree that this is the most heinous of all of the heinous practices of the legislative branch of the U.S. government. It baffles me that it has been permitted for so long.
posted by rushmc at 4:11 PM on May 19, 2002

Gamesmanship is us. We worship it. Everyone plays. An exit clause for the conscience. Riders, sliders, gliders, and supercolliders. Bidness as usual.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2002

What I find completely disgusting is that people like myself, who are following the rules, will end up getting completely screwed by this. Some guy comes in illegally from Mexico and will now be granted residency, while it's likely that I'll never get it because of 9/11.

There's a message in that, and it speaks loud and clear. Only I don't think that there's a soul in Congress with the IQ to figure it out.
posted by clevershark at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2002

Maybe one soul: Mr. Tancredo [Colorado Republican, chair of the Congressional Caucus on Immigration Reform] says passing the 245i extension is "a slap in the face to all in the world who are waiting to come into the country legally. It tells those who waited and came to us legally that, 'You all are a bunch of suckers. You should just have sneaked in. We will not trace you down. Stay under the radar screen, and we will give you amnesty.' That's the message this sends."
posted by Dean King at 6:06 PM on May 19, 2002

I agree. Riders should be ended. I can't see how it will happen, though.
posted by neuroshred at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2002

Hallelujah... one has been found. Some 450 to go.
posted by clevershark at 6:53 PM on May 19, 2002

I'm pretty sure the House isn't going to "cloak" this one, since, as the story to which you linked indicates, the vote was taken on March 12th.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:54 PM on May 19, 2002

To be the devil's advocate here, I think we should first remember that the original purpose of the organization of government in the US is to PREVENT the passing of legislation.
This is such a laudable goal that one senate of the ancient world didn't pass a law for 200 years, in that, if you proposed a law and it failed to win, you (that senator) would be strangled.
But, if you *must* pass laws, riders are a highly effective manner of *neutralizing* them, and/or including the wants and desires of the minority with what the majority want.

Ironically, even if you do pass a "clean" bill, it can still be disembowled by the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and the executive. ALL of which was intended by the framers of the Constitution, that to me indicates that if their philosophy doesn't make sense, it's not the system that needs to change, it is your knowledge of the system that needs to be improved. For they had a great understanding both of history and the historical failures of government, something many of us could use improvement on in our education.
posted by kablam at 8:12 PM on May 19, 2002

The devil needs to seek new representation, kablam; I'm surprised he can't afford Johnny Cochran.
posted by riviera at 8:50 PM on May 19, 2002

Unfortunately now they have executive orders to fark the whole system up and take it in directions the Founding Fathers wanted to completely avoid.

It seems to me that in order to maximize the principles kablam put forth there should be some regulation mandating that riders should be at least germanely related to the bill they accompany. That'll prevent some congressional dork from, say, adding an abortion amendment to the budget...
posted by clevershark at 9:33 PM on May 19, 2002

"Illegal immigration has always been a problem in America, ask any Indian.

Credit to Robert Orben
posted by scottymac at 10:00 PM on May 19, 2002

It would be nice if every single bill were simple and short and titled to mean exactly what it does and voted up or down on the floor with every legislator on record, but that's pretty far from reality. In effect riders, rules suspensions, and other tactics are things that both sides can and do use frequently. (The most frustrating type to research is when bill A is added by resolution to bill B and bill B ends up becoming law, with the only trail to bill A being a note in the Bill Status file on Thomas!) Sometimes this does mean that bills haven't been properly examined or contain stealth provisions that have been tacked on in committee or even drafted with the help of lobbyists, but that can happen even when the bill is handled completely by the most standard parliamentary rules.

But really, if you're going to object to this sort of thing, you shouldn't use something that's two months old and already superseded by events!

There was opposition in the House to this bill, but since it was considered under a rules suspension it required a 2/3 supermajority, and the 137 votes in opposition were one short of actually blocking it. Still, having passed the House is only part of the battle, and the competing HR 3525 was the immigration bill that passed both houses and ended up being signed by Pres. Bush -- a version that had been specifically amended to remove the 245 (i) extension provisions at an earlier date. It's technically possible but apparently politically unlikely that the Senate will pick up this particular bill and pass it this term.

I don't know why people should be so up in arms over it one way or the other -- it's merely an extension, with significant new limitations, of an amnesty that had been in place from '97 to '01 anyway, and with the limitations very few of the perhaps 9 million illegals in the country would be able to take advantage of it. (Frex, already-married illegals wouldn't be able to get a green-card marriage.) No matter; the issue's moot, as is most of this thread.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on May 19, 2002

I agree that this is the most heinous of all of the heinous practices of the legislative branch of the U.S. government. It baffles me that it has been permitted for so long.

Historical note: Without this legislative practice the Civil Rights Bills of 1964, 1966, and 1968 (amount others) would have never been passed. LBJ needed to be a master at wheeling and dealing to get his legislation through. Tacking on a highway project here and there to ensure the rights of all Americans sounds like a pretty good compromise to me (I'm sure all those airports, highways, etc, had a positive impact on there respective jurisdictions too).
Taken into historical prospective sometimes a little grease to get the wheels moving isn't so bad after all.
posted by Bag Man at 12:07 AM on May 20, 2002

Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of...

Wait a minute, I want to tack on a rider to that bill: $30 million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.

All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?


Bill defeated.
posted by cx at 4:29 AM on May 20, 2002

dhartung, you'll be happy to know that the process of tracking related bills has gotten a bit easier with the addition of the Note field to forthcoming (and some extant) bills on THOMAS. Your tax dollars at work, and all that. (We've had a pretty good discussion of the 245i legislation. The issue of riders, etc., is new, however.)
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:01 AM on May 20, 2002

Yeah, Mike, I had noticed that. I thought it was new. It is most definitely helpful.
posted by dhartung at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2002

I strongly agree with clevershark that executive orders are a Constitutional abomination, and should have severe limitations imposed on them by Congress.
But that very argument goes to *ease*--it is very easy for a president to unilaterally make a simple, clean, easy to understand monster of a law, and yet how perverse is the result? No discussion, no argument, no riders, no amendments, no hearings, and none of the other constraints that protect the people from dictatorship.

And, by the way, who wouldn't object to a Senator or two being strangled each session?
posted by kablam at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2002

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