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Dysfunctions of the House Financial Services Committee

December 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney, who have been doing great reporting at the Huffington Post, have an absolute must-read piece today — “The Cash Committee: How Wall Street Wins on the Hill.” The main takeaway is that the ever-increasing need to raise campaign funds isn’t just creating more situations where lawmakers are influenced by the money, it’s actually creating an environment that discourages lawmakers from being good at making laws. Here’s just one of many excerpts that caught my attention:

“It creates a culture where people don’t have to show up,” says freshman Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) about the combination of the committee’s size and the ever-pressing fundraising concerns. Speier, a freshman on the committee, says she began to think she was stupid for showing up to every single hearing when she first arrived on the Hill. “I don’t know if it’s just an unspoken rule around here — because I’m still very new — but it appears you don’t have to show up for the hearing. You just show up to vote… I think for really thoughtful discussion and review to take place, you have to be an active participant. You can’t just be the vehicle to whom one of the special interests throws an amendment with a statement attached and feel that you’re doing the people’s work.”

Do yourself a favor and read the whole piece.

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