Jan. 22, 2013
Back in the 1960s, a group of House Republicans was guided by the axiom “Procedure is substance; process is policy.” The Young Turks recognized that those who make the rules control the policy outcomes.
They therefore set out to change Congress to give the minority party more influence in policymaking. The minor victories they eventually achieved in the early 1970s — abolishing proxy voting in committees and increasing minority committee staff — were reversed at the beginning of the next Congress by majority Democrats in adopting House rules.
In recent times that process/policy axiom has produced a corollary: Process is policy except when it is used to delegate, divert and delay tough policy choices. Nowhere has this become more evident than in Congress’ struggles over the past several years to bring spending under control.
Don Wolfensberger is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.
Read the full op-ed here
Democracy Project, Congress