November 29th, 2010
12:22 PM ET
3 years ago

American Sauce: What exactly is the GOP changing?

Washington (CNN) - November's vote for change (2010 version), starts becoming reality this week. Exiting members of Congress lose their office space and the small army of new members and Speaker-elect John Boehner can openly measure and order their drapes.

But that's just the cosmetics. What are Republicans doing to make good on their version of the promise to change how Washington works?

In this week's American Sauce (our podcast devoted to substance without the political games, but with a hint of irreverence), we'll lay out specifically what Republicans are doing right now to change day-to-day business in the House of Representatives. Listen here:


Not to be all tease and no teeth in this Ticker post, below we list many of the changes.

Also in this Sauce episode, as the holiday leftovers wane, we take a look at national holidays in the U.S. There are 10. Many countries in Europe and Asia have 12, 13, 14 or 15. Japan has the most at 16.

Americans work more but we also make more. So we ask if the trade-off is worth it. We talk to a labor expert who proposes that: a) Americans actually take more of our holidays from work (see Columbus Day) and b) we add three more national holidays, including one tied to a single sport.

If you want to know what is happening in Washington, what is truly involved in the big issues of our time, but you don't have hours to read legislative language or watch hearings, American Sauce could be your answer.

As promised, here's a look at some of the specific changes Republicans are considering or making to the way the House of Representatives works:

- Done: Republicans have agreed to block all "earmarks," or pet projects, from bills in the next two years. BUT, they have yet to define "earmark" and some members, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), want to allow exclusions on things like bridges and roads from the ban. (Amount a total earmark ban could save is in the podcast.)

- Done: No more "omnibus" or comprehensive bills. House Republican leaders have pledged to vote on issues "one topic at a time" and do away with bills that combine many issues, often unrelated to one another, into a single bill.

- Done: Allow all members to offer more amendments to bills, especially spending bills. This is a pledge confirmed by Republican staffers, but we do not know how it will work in practice.

- Done: Bills will be released to the public (and other Congressmen) 72 hours before a vote. Republicans have committed to make this rules change. Note that Democrats made this same pledge but did not carry it out on every bill. It is one to watch.

- Considering: A major schedule change. Republican leaders are looking into longer work weeks with rotated weeks off in between. They're looking at two or three weeks of time in Washington followed by one week for lawmakers to spend in their home districts.

- Considering:
An end to some committee grandstanding, er, speeches. Currently, most House hearings begin by allowing each member to give a five-minute speech. This could mean hours of speeches before expert witnesses say a single word. Republicans are considering cutting those speeches down to just one or two from each party.

- Considering: Limiting the noncontroversial or "suspension" votes to a single day or time. Currently, the House floor is frequently occupied with series of votes on post office names or congratulations to sports teams. Members do not have to attend such votes, but they happen instead of potential debate time.

More details on these in the podcast here.

You can also listen to the American Sauce podcast on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast here.


Filed under: American Sauce • Congress
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Someone had better be getting to work on jobs in this country, if they want to avoid anarchy.

    November 29, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    - Done: No more "omnibus" or comprehensive bills. House Republican leaders have pledged to vote on issues "one topic at a time" and do away with bills that combine many issues, often unrelated to one another, into a single bill.

    - Done: Allow all members to offer more amendments to bills, especially spending bills. This is a pledge confirmed by Republican staffers, but we do not know how it will work in practice.
    -------------------–

    Hmmm. Doing away with bills that combine many issues and allowing members to offer more amendments to bills is counterproductive ... rather an oxymoron approach, actually. I suspect when all is said and done, nothing will have changed ... more GOPer in-fighting, and more obstruction, yes, but less actual improvements.

    November 29, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. T'sah from Virginia

    WHERE are the Repeals???? Where are the JOBS?????????? What does DONE mean??? Was all of this DONE and agreed upon with the rest of the FOLKS? Or, DONE in the minds of RepubliCAN'Ts? Oh, I see – it's DONE in their minds!!

    Okay – let's get the DONES to work!! Take the CONSIDERINGS and pick your teeth with it....... Mention all of the REPEALS you promised to do (Health Care, Financial Reform, etc.) and put all of this together and as of January 31, 2011 – the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE will drop a whole 1%.............YOU GO PUBS!!!

    Please – Let's continue to Move America Forward with our current leader, President Obama, and with some CONCRETE policies that will produce JOBS!!

    November 29, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Squiggs

    They're changing more wealth from the 98 % of us to the 2% of the people they really care about. Thats the only change you'll see with this bunch in power.

    November 29, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Let's continue to pull America back from the brink of financial ruin at the hands of a clueless Obozo. Let's continue to CUT government workers, government spending, government control and government intrusion. Let's continue to allow our free market capitalist system work as designed, after all it has created the greatest country in the history of the planet. Why exchange it for failed european socialism?

    November 29, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. gypsyalso

    why are they just now getting back to work? wasn't the election a few weeks ago? and the christmas holidays will soon be on us – and they will leave for home. they waste too darn much time.

    i think i like that work three weeks and take the fourth week off. seems to me they work very little now.

    but i can dream!

    November 29, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. kyle

    Thoe GOP will try to give the rich more money by extending tax cuts for rich, take from the poor by ending unemployment extension, repeal healthcare for the sick, and let big banks and big oil run wild again, send more jobs to China!!!!!!!!!

    November 29, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    But where are the jobs? I don't care about their pompus attitudes. WHERE ARE THE JOBS REPUBLICANTS?

    November 29, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Looks like Boehner and his boys are sketching out more time to tan and play golf and you better figure out how to get your own job. You've been had people and I dare you to get mad, live with it.

    November 29, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    ...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    November 29, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Jon T

    I notice most of the Republican ideas are process oriented, not policy oriented. The best thing Republicans in Congress can do is to emulate Democratic administrations. Since our national debt now exceeds $13.7 trillion, since it was less than $1 trillion when Reagan became president, and since Clinton set our fiscal house in order by taking the $350 billion in annual deficits he inherited and turning them into surpluses, the GOP should look at the Democrats' model for fiscal prudence. Republicans should completely disavow their own fiscal recklessness and their habitual tax pandering. If they want to find a place to cut, they should cut where it can really make a difference: defense spending. The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 27 countries combined (and 26 of those are our allies), and 55% of our federal discretionary budget is "defense" spending – "protecting" less than 5% of the world's population by incurring 44% of the world's military spending.

    The other area where Republicans can emulate the success of Democratic administrations is in economic performance. Democratic administrations are much better for financial markets and the economy for two main reasons: they believe in broad prosperity, not the narrow prosperity of the wealthy few, and they believe in appropriate regulation of the financial sector. This is why stock indexes (as measured by the S&P 500 index and its predecessor, the S&P 90) were up 5% over the last 40 years of Republican administrations vs. an increase of 4,375% (875 times as much) over the last 41.7 years of Democratic administrations (as of last week). If Republicans would concentrate on spending cuts where they can really make a difference – earmarks are a relative pittance – if they would support Obama as he guides us out of the economic catastrophe that the GOP led us into, if they start to realize that broad prosperity is best, and if they come to grips with the fact that the financial sector must be tightly regulated, then they might be able to help get our country on the right track. Don't hold your breath. They seem to be more interested in obstruction for political gain.

    November 29, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Todd M

    How about a limit on how long a judicial nominee can be held up. Shouldn't they be required to get an up or down vote rather than limbo forever. Both parties are guilty of this.

    November 29, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Doug in NYC

    Wow, they got just over 50% of their work done, don't see any improvement in the job situation yet! Where are the jobs Boner??? And that earmark thing didn't last too long, 72 hours after they self-imposed it, one RepubliCANT couldn't help himself and stuck one onto a bill!!

    November 29, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Jilli

    Enough of this crap – nothing will change with the republicans, they'll continue to be as corrupt, deceitful and fiscally careless as they've always been.

    The republicans stick to their claims of being "fiscal conservatives" and being concerned about decreasing the deficit while insisting on the addition of over $700 billion to the deficit in gifting tax cuts to the top 2%. Meanwhile, the remaining 98% continue to stuggle, and the unemployed, well....screw you, Merry Christmas from the GOP.

    Nothing changes but the liars telling the lies.

    November 29, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Publius13

    The earmark ban is a joke. Without defining an earmark, it means nothing. But in any event, earmarks are a red herring–they don't add any significant expenditures to the spending side of the budget. Moreover, they put spending control in the hands of the people's representatives, instead of the bureaucrats. I thought TEA party types and Republicans were against bureaucratic control from Washington, but I guess not. If they really implement their earmark ban, civil servants are going to be directing $16 billion of spending they weren't directing before.

    The only real, good idea in this list is the schedule change. It would probably be better for the representatives, their families, and the taxpayers if the Congressional workweek were extended and off-weeks were inserted. More work would get done, Republican evangelical lawmakers would have less time to pursue Congressional aides and sexual affairs in general, and less Washington-to-district travel would be necessary. They should try it.

    November 29, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Truthmonitor

    Talk about "smoke and mirrors' – to look like they'll really do something. Nothing here, especially the 'earmark ban' will lead anywhere. The GOP, and Dems for that matter, will never agree to shed their beloved earmarks if they want to get re-elected. (I can hear the States scream now – with no fed $ rolling in for basic services). There will be infighting until the whole idea is silently dropped. Besides, the earmarks don't amount to a fraction of govt expenditures which we simply can't afford without greater revenue from those who can afford them. And, yes folks the super-rich CAN afford it. Say good-bye to Medicare and SS for your future if you're under 60. Hope you have another retirement and elder health plan in the wings. (You can be sure your beloved Congress-person won't go without govt health care). GOP claims they'll cut spending, but can't name a single thing to cut. And neither spending cuts (still waiting to hear what) nor offering tax breaks to the wealthy will lead to JOBS! PS: If one dime of my taxes go toward GOP office drapes, there will be screaming. How about starting with office decorating-reduction, hypocrites?

    November 29, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. LYNETTE IN CA

    Repugs do nothing but smoke screen. Unfortunately, there are many who are quite inept when it comes to politics and believe anything they're told. Don't extend the bush cuts for the middle class w/o extending for the rich ...really?

    Shout out to the middle class ...wait until you get that first check in Jan. 2011 and see how much less your check will be!

    Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Bill Gates were on a Sun. talk show saying they don't need the money and wasn't sure why Congress thinks they do. Maybe Paris Hilton needs new shoes and, of course, a handbag to match. Sure we'll help you pay for it. No problem at all.

    If you believe that the wealthy needs tax cuts, please keep your head in the sand.

    November 29, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. beevee

    The party of 'NOs" will be coming to take charge of the Congress. They will continue to say NO anything the US public wants as they have done in the past. So do'nt expect much from them.

    November 29, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Funny...I've never seen CNN bother to list all of Obama's and the Dems actual achievements from over the past 2 years...wouldn't help push the needle on the "controversy meter" into the red if people had a list of what has actually happened I suppose. No no...let's just keep the blinders on and pretend that they did almost nothing except for the ACA, since that's the biggest wedge issue available to the corporate "news" media for helping tear down anyone who threatens the establishment.

    "- Done: Republicans have agreed to block all "earmarks," or pet projects, from bills in the next two years."

    Non-binding fluffery. ENACT IT or it doesn't count.

    "- Done: No more "omnibus" or comprehensive bills..."

    Again, NON-BINDING. Moreover, for a bunch of demogogues who complain that "teh guvmint is teh broken," one would think that agreeing to do things in the most ponderously slow manner conceivably would be anathema to their stated ideological purpse. That is...one would think that until one realized that they complain about broken federal government and then do everyrthing they can to break it, because that proves them right and what they really want is a loose conglomeration of nation-states without a federal government telling them who has rights and that religion isn't allowed in our laws.

    "- Done: Allow all members to offer more amendments to bills, especially spending bills. This is a pledge confirmed by Republican staffers, but we do not know how it will work in practice."

    Remains to be seen, but given that THESE SAME GOPers used Reconcliation whenever they could from 2000-2008, using it to pass multiple tax cuts that constitute the alrgest contributing factor in the national debt and deficit, I tend to doubt this is anything but lip-service. They'll say it they're going to do it and so their fact-phobic base will believe and insist that they actually did it...no matter what they do in reality.

    "- Done: Bills will be released to the public (and other Congressmen) 72 hours before a vote..."

    We'll see. ENACT IT and it will be a mild accomplishment, but that's about it...MILD. I'd rather see them cease and desist with respect to their lying and misinformation campaigns about what actually exists in proposed legislation...which, of course, is why one must wonder whether they'll follow through with something like this, since it would work against their primary political tactics. "Death panels" says it all.

    "- Considering: A major schedule change. Republican leaders are looking into longer work weeks with rotated weeks off in between. They're looking at two or three weeks of time in Washington followed by one week for lawmakers to spend in their home districts."

    Of course...Issa has planned almost 300 witchhunt hearings...they're going to be VERY busy trying to find a way to impeach Obama, after all.

    '- Considering: An end to some committee grandstanding, er, speeches. Currently, most House hearings begin by allowing each member to give a five-minute speech. This could mean hours of speeches before expert witnesses say a single word. Republicans are considering cutting those speeches down to just one or two from each party."

    Of course...now that the GOP is in control, we wouldn't want opposing sides to get an opportunity to get their viewpoints or some facts into the hearing record, now would we? No no no...gotta keep that record clean of any questioning of the hearing process and any opposing opinions...especially while the GOP is in charge. Oh, and, Issa has planned almost 300 withchhunt hearings.

    "- Considering: Limiting the noncontroversial or "suspension" votes to a single day or time..."

    Well of course...couple this with their plan to force everything to be considered piecemeal and you've got yourself a great bottle-neck for the legislative process. Nothing would make them happier than the federal government being capable, beacuse of myriad unrealistic and impractical rules, of doing almost nothing because of a logjammed legislative process. Well, maybe the complete collapse of the federal government except for the military...but give them time...they're hard a work on it.

    November 29, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Tracy

    Maybe we could at least wait until they take office to start bad mouthing them about not following up on promises. as i see it, we let the Dems run things into the ground for two years straight while not actually fixing a single campaign promise. Maybe we could at least give the newly elected officials the same courtesy.

    November 29, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Yep...so the GOP does almost nothing whatsoever in less than a month, except for a couple NON-BINDING resolutions and threats to change the rules of the House in order to slow down the legislative process further, facilitate their planned witchhunts and prevent opposing opinions from getting on the hearing records, and CNN is selling a list of their achievements. Obama and the Dems spent 2 years getting more done than any Congress and WH since Carter (learn your history GOPers before you attack that just because it has the word "Carter" in it)...and we've never once been treated to a story listing, well, any of it really...unless mentioning one thing here or there helps create more controversy and division to help ratings and ad revenue that is.

    November 29, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Lyle

    Will the GOP agree to fuction as legislators and act responsibly and not just act politically for their party's agenda, over the interests of the American people?
    Will they agree to read the bills that they get 72 hours before a vote and not just send it over to the FOX propoganda network so that it can be massaged and distroted in order to please the GOP's corporate masters?
    If they are caugth in an outright lie will they agree to resigning immediately?
    Those would be some meaningful reforms.

    November 29, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. jjh

    The republicans have a plan to increase the number of jobs: join the armed services to fight overseas. If you live in a country where American corporations have outsourced jobs, you can look for one there. If you are stilll in America, just pray to Jeeezus and hope you might get one. If not, you are SOL but you have plenty of time to listen to Rush Limbaugh and his speeches against Socialism. Don't worry, the only way you can get America back is to convince Wall Street that American wages are less than that in India and China. Other than that, back to the failed policies of George W. Bush. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    November 29, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |