Tonight is the high-visibility State of the Union address, but this afternoon before our annual national rite, a quiet revolution may be taking place on the floor of the House of Representatives. There for anyone to see will be a revolution in legislative openness. And it won’t be symbolic like Republicans and Democrats sitting together.
In a refreshing act of democracy, the Republican leadership is recommending an open rule to govern passage of the massive government’s funding bill, called a Continuing Resolution or CR. An open rule means anyone can recommend an amendment to the bill. Open rules never happened on major bills under the closed door leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA). This is a revolutionary change in the way the House will work.
As House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-V) confirmed yesterday in his weekly presser with reporters: “For the first time ever, I’m told, the CR will come to the floor under an open process. I expect members from both parties, from the RSC [Republican Study Conference] to the progressives, to be able to participate and offer their ideas on how we can cut spending and right the size of government in terms of its balance with the private sector.”
Cantor did not say how long he thought it could take to enact a new budget. But this determination to open the floor to the opposition is courageous and it suggests real change is underway, at least on one side of the Congress.
Today’s rule change is far more important than tonight’s symbolic Kumbaya moment. It is substantial change, a big story that so far has eluded the mainstream press.