Remember watching “Schoolhouse Rock,” in which you were taught how a “Bill” becomes a “Law,” going through committees and all those other legislative processes until it gets passed and signed? That’s called “regular order,” and it hasn’t been used in the House of Representatives for years. Mostly today, bills instead are initiated, negotiated, brought to the floor–or not–by House leadership of both parties.
The “Freedom Caucus” of recently-elected conservatives is routinely accused of undermining former speaker John Boehner and creating legislative paralysis for ideological reasons. But, as political scientist Ross K. Baker explains, what they are actually fighting for is not ideology at all, but rather a return to “regular order.”
As it is, these junior Congressional representatives are given almost no say in legislation, contrary to the wide participation and transparency made possible by the traditional “regular order.” (Yes, the members of the Freedom Caucus are conservative, but this is because they mostly came in with the anti-Obama landslide of the last Congressional election.) The new speaker, Paul Ryan, is said to be sympathetic to the Schoolhouse Rock approach to government, but we shall see. [Read more…]