A Majority of the Minority?
If there's one Republican who can't be accused of obstructionism, it's Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Two years after gaveling the House into session, members noticed a significant difference between John Boehner and his liberal predecessor. Unlike Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who used the majority to bludgeon the other side, this class of House leadership has surprised a lot of people -- including conservatives -- by rolling out the welcome mat for a parade of liberal bills. Unfortunately, that means that Republicans aren't always leading with the mandate voters gave them to limit government, protect freedom, and champion values.
After a frustrating year of tax hikes and spending, this "open process," as Speaker Boehner calls it, is starting to anger conservatives, who didn't elect Republicans so they could enact the minority's agenda. "I've allowed the House to work ... well, more than any speaker in modern history, to the point where there are some bills that have passed with a majority of Democrats in favor, and a minority of Republicans," Boehner told "Good Morning America," yesterday. "And I've been criticized for it. What I'm committed to is a fair and open process on the floor of the House, so that all members have an opportunity." To his critics, he said, "It's not about what I want. It's about what the House wants."
With all due respect, that view hasn't prevailed on a number of conservative measures, which were intentionally put on special order (requiring two-thirds vote for approval). Conservative members have also been constrained from offering amendments on the House floor -- so the process hasn't exactly been "open" to everyone. A coalition of respected conservative organizations said as much in a letter to the GOP leadership yesterday. The Conservative Action Project (CAP), of which FRC is a part, is urging Republicans to stop bringing legislation to the floor that divides the party and empowers liberals.
Back in the early 2000s, politicians actually named a rule after House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), who refused to bring a bill to the floor without guaranteeing the majority of Republicans would vote for it. Tuesday, CAP urged the GOP to stop playing into the Democrats' hands and resurrect the "Hastart Rule." Too many liberals have House leaders to thank for their recent gains. It's past time, we write, to govern by a "majority of the majority."
More than 40 organizations agree: "Recently, House Republicans have passed bills that are inconsistent with its mandate from the American people... The fiscal cliff tax increases, increased pork spending buried into the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, and the [pro-homosexual] Violence Against Women Act reauthorization all passed the House over the opposition of a majority of House Republicans... We are writing to you to today to encourage you to boldly use your majority, not only to present a positive conservative vision, but also as the last backstop against the worst excesses of liberalism and Washington deal-making. Liberal Democrats control the White House and the Senate. We should not help their cause by handing them the keys to the House as well."
With gun control, immigration, and debt ceiling debates looming, it's important for Republicans to use the majority voters gave them to their advantage. Governing openly is a worthwhile goal, but there are ways to do it without yielding to every policy that comes along. It's more important than ever for conservatives to be united. Join us in calling on House leaders to support rules that will show the America people that Republicans are serious about stopping the erosion of liberty in America!
House Hits Its Pain Threshold
Passing a bill with a simple majority is tough enough in this Congress. But passing a bill with a two-thirds majority? That's almost impossible. Fortunately, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) isn't facing those odds this year, as he tries for the second time to narrow the window for legal abortions. Last spring, Rep. Franks had his hands full when the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act was brought up under a suspension of the rules, which requires overwhelming House support to pass. This month, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has promised to give H.R. 1797 an up-or-down vote as early as next week.
Today, members of the House Judiciary debated and passed the bill, which would ban abortion on pain-capable children across America after 20 weeks. Stacks of medical research confirm that these tiny babies not only feel pain -- but feel it more acutely at the five month-mark. And while the country may be divided on abortion, it is united on the rights of suffering children. In a survey by The Polling Company, 64% of Americans agreed that we can't turn our backs on the agony that babies experience during an abortion.
"...[I hope] we can agree that, at the very least, we are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment," said Rep. Franks. It's time to end the culture of violence and inhumanity, which for 40 years has gripped our nation. In the words of FRC's Anna Higgins, "We need to face the fact that what Gosnell did to those children outside the womb is no different than what is done to children, legally, inside the womb on a regular basis in this country." Help Congressman Franks rescue thousands of children from a brutal execution by urging your representative to vote yes on H.R. 1797!
Must-See TV! Dr. Rosaria Butterfield's 'Train Wreck Conversion'
FRC produces some of the finest public policy material in the country, but today's lecture by Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield went beyond analysis and prescription. Dr. Butterfield was a tenured professor at Syracuse University -- and also an open and avowed lesbian who helped draft the university's domestic partnership policy. Through the gentle but truthful testimony of a local pastor and his wife, and through intensive, transforming study of the Bible, she came to Christ more than a decade ago and is now a homeschool mom and pastor's wife.
As she shared her story today, and answered frank questions about faith, homosexuality, and repentance, she told of how her life had been grooved by patterns of what she called "deep sin." Yet in Christ, she said those grooves and holes have been filled with grace and new life. An overflow crowd came to hear her at FRC today, and you can watch, at no charge, Dr. Butterfield's compelling presentation below.
** The disappointment continues for pro-lifers -- and parents in general -- after the President's decision to stop fighting for Plan B restrictions. Read more about the consequences in Anna Higgins's new Washington Times piece, "Surrendering to Politics on the Morning-After Pill."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.