Pelosi Already Agreed to the Minority Bill of Rights

Think Progress points us to a June 24, 2004 article by Charles Babington:

House Democrats’ anger at heavy-handed Republican tactics reached a new level yesterday, with the chamber’s top Democrat asking the House speaker to embrace a “Bill of Rights” for the minority, regardless which party it is. In keeping with the general atmosphere of the House these days, aides to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he will not respond to the two-page proposal from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). For decades, the party in power has used House parliamentary rules to limit the minority party’s ability to amend bills and shape debates. But Democrats – in the minority for 10 years after four decades of control – say Republicans have gone to unreasonable lengths in recent years. GOP leaders dispute this, but congressional scholars and even some rank-and-file Republicans agree in whole or in part. Pelosi’s document, which she vows to honor if Democrats regain the majority, says: “Too often, incivility and the heavy hand of the majority” have silenced Democrats and choked off “thoughtful debate.” She called on the majority to let the minority offer meaningful amendments and substitutes to important bills; to limit roll-call votes to the normal 15 minutes rather than keeping them open to round up needed votes; and to let all appointees to House-Senate conference committees participate in meetings and decisions.

Now you might be wondering why I bring up such old news as everyone knows that the former Speaker was truly a jerk leading similar jerks. Justin Hood tells us:

Republicans aren’t yet an official minority in the House, but they’re already beginning a campaign to portray themselves as victims of a heartless Democratic majority. In a “Dear Colleague” letter circulated to fellow Republicans, three House GOPers are trying to push a “Minority Bill of Rights” – based on a two-year-old proposal by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) … “Unfortunately, as you are well aware, the Democrats’ forty-year reign over the House was plagued by consistent, systematic efforts to usurp the rights and privileges of the Republican minority,” write Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Tom Price (R-GA). They don’t mention their party’s own strongarm tactics – which is striking, given that since 2002 Cantor himself was a member of the House GOP leadership, which was known for ruthlessly engineering legislative victories. “[R]eveling in the power they have, [Republicans] are using techniques to jam bills through even when they don’t have to . . . simply because they can,” is how congressional expert Norman Ornstein characterized the GOP’s screw-the-minority tactics from 1994 to the present, according to a 2004 Washington Post article. Republicans “have taken every one of the techniques that Democrats employed when they were in the majority, and ratcheted them up to another level,” said the American Enterprise Institute scholar.

Credit to Norman Ornstein for calling Eric Cantor on his hypocrisy and mendacity. But these three Republicans should relax is Nancy Pelosi is not the Democratic equivalent of Dennis Hastert.