If you’re like me, you probably gave a little sigh, maybe a bit of a jaw rub, perhaps a full facepalm, thinking that the LA Times suddenly is concerned about gridlock now that Democrats are in the minority, because they want to make sure that Democrats are able to get their legislation passed. And that’s certainly a valid thought. But, wait a minute, this is actually a rather good idea. Interesting that they didn’t bring it up when Democrats had some measure of control
(LA Times) There is a far simpler measure reform-minded members of Congress should consider: Replace the committee selection process and seniority rules with a system in which legislators are assigned to committees via a random draw. This straightforward reform, requiring nothing more than a change in each chamber’s rules, would go a long way toward restoring Congress’ power and relevance.
Committees are where much of Congress’ work gets done, where legislators debate technical language in bills and horse trade. Committees shape the legislative agenda, deciding, with limited exception, which bills the floor may consider.
Congress’ practice is to allow the two parties’ leadership-controlled steering committees to assign legislators to committees, which gives the leadership leverage over rank-and-file members. Breaking party leaders’ hold on committee assignments would reduce the pressure legislators feel to vote the party line instead of their personal or district preferences.
As Brian Feinstein notes, this would also reduce fundraising loads, as well as the
ass kissing of Party leaders maneuvering by Congress critters for plum assignments. And, while committees would certainly lose some expertise
Perhaps most important, committees with randomly assigned members would be more likely to draft bills that reflect the broad preferences of Congress, and could therefore actually make it into law. The process would encourage compromise and dampen the influence of special interests.
It’s actually not that bad of an idea, but, I do have to question the timing, in that this idea didn’t come up during the tenure of Reid nor Pelosi and their clenched fist control. Perhaps it’s just serendipity. Ideas happen. Much like instituting a flat or fair tax, limiting the power of Congress over citizens and private entities, limiting the power of Party leaders over rank and file would be a good thing.
Of course, Congressional gridlock is rather a good thing, limiting the effect a far off Congress divorced from the Citizens.