A Majority Of The Majority, aka The Fringe

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State at 5:45 pm by wcnews

A Majority of the majority. Sounds kind of funny the first time you hear it but it’s the way the US House of Representatives has been run since being taken over by the Republicans in ’94. What it means is that no bill will come to a vote on the floor of the House unless a majority of Republicans are in favor of it being passed. To refresh you memory, a majority of Republicans in the US House of Representatives were against allowing the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to be renewed, and therefore it wasn’t brought to the floor. It also appears to be the reason a vote will never take place in the House on raising the minimum wage.

But now it looks like the vote will be delayed indefinitely. CongressDaily reported yesterday that “the bill would not reach the floor next week” and “there is a chance it would not come up even the following week, and possibly not at all.”

Conservatives are clearly afraid to be on the record opposing a minimum wage increase at a time when 83 percent of Americans support such a move.

In other words a majority of the majority, which translates into a minority of the US House, can keep issues that a vast majority of Americans support, from even getting an “up-or-down vote” because they don’t want to be on the record voting against them.

The key to this strategy for the Republicans has always been to keep their distaste for issues that a vast majority of Americans like quiet. The VRA is too big an issue to use this strategy on. Or as this HChron article from yesterday points out the Republicans are missing their hammer, Disarray on voting rights shows heft of GOP fringe. And fringe it is:

But as the measure was headed to the floor, Hastert allowed the House to be diverted by Republican legislators who object to the very voter-protection mechanisms about which the speaker had waxed so eloquent.

Some Southern Republicans in the House, including some Texans, want to scrap the requirement that changes in voting procedures in nine states, including Texas, must be approved (“precleared”) by federal officials.

From the anti-immigrant lobby came objections to the current requirement that foreign-language ballots be offered some voters.

Both points have been hashed and rehashed over the years and never have attracted enough objections to block their inclusion.

Mau-mauing resurfaced at a private House Republican caucus on Wednesday. Questions were raised whether the bill commanded a majority of House Republican votes, which Hastert has used as a firm but unwritten guide on whether legislation would be allowed to the floor.

The idea that a bill — even one he supports — might pass with a minority of Republican votes causes an inexplicable gag-reaction for Hastert. He knows that in a final full House vote the bill would command a strong overall majority.

House Republican leaders said in a weasly statement that there was enough time to address “concerns” of the renegades, so members would be allowed “the time needed to evaluate the legislation.”

What nonsense. They’ve had months to evaluate the legislation. Some of Hastert’s crew doesn’t like it and will not vote for it under any conditions, virtually regardless of how the measure may be tweaked.

Hastert should have called their bluff, but he caved. The speaker’s office contends that he is committed to passing the measure “as soon as possible.” That’s not true, or it would have happened last week.

We all know that our congressman, John Carter, is in the middle of this fringe. On these two issues, where a vast majority of the American people are for them, they will not be allowed to be voted on because a majority of Republicans in the House are against them. The people’s house is being run by a fringe element.

1 Comment »

  1. Ahimsakid said,

    June 26, 2006 at 8:39 am

    There is another, perhaps less obvious reason for these fringe elements to oppose the Voting Rights Act than unalloyed racism, or anglo jingoism. Greg Palast, writing for the Guardian, [ http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0624-28.htm ]
    notes “This is a strategic stall that is meant to decriminalise the Republican party’s new game of challenging voters of colour by the hundreds of thousands. ” When we look at Florida’s “felon purge” in 2000, and the anti-minority activities in 2004-most notably in Ohio, we can perhaps discern a different reason why some Repugnicans might not favor the preclearance of changes to voting procedures.

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