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PA State House Explodes, New Rules Limit Minority Party Participation

The first major partisan brawl of the new session is underway, as House Republicans institute new rules for debate which severely limit Democratic participation.

In summary, Republicans are now able to defer amendments to committee and Democrats have lost a seat on each of the major House committee. The situation arose after Democrats attempted to bog down progress on the GOP’s reform package with 43 separate amendments (a tactic often used by the Republicans while they were in the minority).

GOP Majority Leader Mike Turzai

Democrats, understandably critical of the move (similar to actions they themselves took while in the majority), said that it hearkened back to the brass-knuckle tactics of former GOP Majority Leader and Speaker John Perzel.

The blowout generated bad headlines for both parties, but it serves as one more reminder of the new Republican majority.

From PA Public Radio’s Scott Detrow:

“Majority Leader Mike Turzai and Caucus Secretary Mike Vereb just came up to the press room to announce their shock – shock – that Democrats had filed 43 different amendments to the bills today. This move, which Republicans employed time after time when they were in the minority – slows down debate, since each and every amendment would need to be discussed and voted on the floor. Turzai said the GOP has negotiated with Democrats in good faith, and Republicans are angered by what he called an obstructionist move. Therefore, Turzai said the House Rules committee will meet later today to consider changing the way the House can table amendments, and to tweak the committee structure so that each panel has one less Democrat.

And indeed, that’s exactly what they did.

From John Micek at Capitol Ideas:

“Republicans.. came up with rules changes reducing minority composition on committees from 15-10 to 15-9, citing past precedent.

“They also came up with a proposal that makes it easier to get rid of unpopular amendments by exiling them to committee. This is kind of the political equivalent of being sent to Siberia, sans mukluks.”

3 Responses

  1. I am outraged,sickened, shocked and saddened at what I witnessed on that video. Is this what the majority party thinks is democracy? God help the state of Pennsylvania if this continues. Our government was designed to make sure the voices and opinions of those in the minority were heard and weighed before decisions were made and laws enacted. This action by Republicans appears to nothing less than a power and control move to ensure that their opinions and laws are the only things heard and passed.
    I am ashamed to be a PA resident after watching this.

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