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House spends 2 days on non-binding resolution, gives PATRIOT Act 1 hour

February 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Just in case you need more evidence that the floor of the House of Representatives has devolved into little more than a political sideshow, let’s take a look at how they’re allocating their time these days. On Wednesday the Rules Committee got together for 10 minutes to decide that extending the three most controversial provisions of the PATRIOT Act would be allowed 1 hour of debate on the floor. The day before that they met for more than an hour and decided to give 9.5 hours of debate to …wait for it… a non-binding resolution directing committees to hold hearings on regulations that businesses don’t like.

That’s right. One hour for debate on allowing the government to continue demanding that libraries and businesses turn over individuals’ private records without being allowed to notify the individual, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. One hour for debate on allowing the government to continue using “roving” wiretaps on multiple phones and devices that suspects may possibly use, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. One hour for debate on allowing the government to spy on supposed terrorist suspects that aren’t part of a terrorist group, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. You get the picture.

By the way, H.Res.72, the bill calling on committees to hold hearings on regulations, passed this afternoon by a vote of 391-28. That’s not the kind of roll call result you expect to see from a bill that merits 9.5 hours of debate. Obvously, regulations are an important issue and there is a strong need for honest, bipartisan debate here. But 9.5 hours on a non-binding bill calling for hearing is not an honest debate, it’s a forum for slinging talking points at the C-SPAN cameras. Let’s save the 9.5 hours for when there are actual regulatory reforms on the table.

(h/t @KagroX)

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