I'm sure glad the Democrats have been so successful in eliminating the petty bickering and partisanship as they promised during the election. Here's an example of how things have improved:
Debate finally got under way on the measure late Thursday, after a two-day skirmish in which Republicans lodged repeated protest votes and dilatory amendments over what they termed an unfair process for debating an unrelated children's health insurance bill. Democrats resorted to closing down the floor, limiting amendments to about 12 and incorporating six others into the rule.
One of those amendments tucked into the rule was by Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., and Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., to block $1.5 million in funding for three earmarks Mollohan requested for the Canaan Valley Institute, a nonprofit in his district that does ecological work.
The government is reportedly investigating Mollohan's ties to the group, including earmarks he has obtained.
In a statement, Mollohan said he agreed to the move to allow the Institute to "carry on its critical work undisturbed by the fallout from a shameful slander campaign."
On the floor, Obey said including the earmarks was a mistake and he and Mollohan "had determined that because they were in controversy, for the good of the house, they should not be considered at this time."
Republicans howled, arguing they had never closed down debate so early in consideration of an appropriations bill. Democrats pulled the bill Tuesday after four hours; Republicans did the same only after much-lengthier debate in the late 1990s, GOP aides said.
"They are shoving it up our a**," one aide said. The rule passed, 224-194.
Democrats said they were resorting to the tactic only because Republicans went back on a prior agreement to allow appropriations to proceed, after Democrats in June agreed to list earmarks up front in spending bills.
Democrats complained that Republicans were delaying an unrelated bill in protest over the healthcare measure, but Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Democrats' hands were not clean in that regard.
On the floor, he cited an instance a decade earlier where Pelosi and others, including Obey and Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., delayed consideration of the fiscal 1998 Agriculture measure for nine hours after Republicans refused to allow Pelosi to offer an abortion-related amendment to another bill.
"The rule that we have before us that shuts us down, it's unfair, it's unwise, it's un-Democratic, and it does not deserve the support of any member of this House," Boehner said. Slaughter said she did not recall the incident. "I don't really go around thinking about what happened in 1998. I've got my hands full with 2007," she said.