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Paul Ryan's Latest Power Grab

When Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul was in Congress, one way he forced votes on issues (like cutting foreign aid, or stopping federal agencies from imposing regulations) was offering amendments to appropriations bills. The reason Dr. Paul was able to do this was because appropriations bills are considered under an "open rule" allowing any member to offer any amendment as long as it concerns federal spending.

This allowed representatives to offer amendments such as placing limits on the NSA by forbidding it from spending money on warrantless wiretapping and mass surveillance. The process forced Congress to address issues that the House leadership would have preferred to ignore, so now they are threatening to change it.

Several weeks ago, the House passed a controversial amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that dealt with the employment policies of federal contractors. This amendment was considered a "poison pill" and was opposed by many conservative representatives. As a result, Republican leadership, with the support of some conservatives, is no longer bringing appropriations bills to the floor under an open rule. Instead, representatives will be forced to seek permission for their amendments from the House Rules Committee (i.e. the speaker's committee) before being offered on the floor.

Speaker Ryan supposedly assured the GOP Conference that this would only limit "poison pill" amendments. This should be of little comfort, considering that many amendments favored by supporters of liberty, such as the Masie-Lofgren amendment forbidding the NSA from spending money on warrantless wiretapping, may be considered "poison pills."

In addition, even if Speaker Ryan does not abuse the new power, there is no guarantee the next Speaker will not use this new process to stop representatives of liberty from offering amendments.

This is clearly another centralization of power in the House leadership that can (will?) be used to disenfranchise constitutional conservatives and libertarians.

(H/T Politico)


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