Speaker Vote Highlights US House’s Unchecked Procedural Corruption

by | Jan 6, 2015


It seems unlikely that the current members of the United States House of Representatives will effectively rise up against their Democrat and Republican leaders to require that the House be run in a fair and honest manner. Yet, the potential of more Republican members opposing on Tuesday the reelection of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as speaker of the House than the 12 Republican representatives who chose not to vote for Boehner in 2013 is helping bring to light the crooked process by which “the people’s House” so frequently operates.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) on Saturday lifted the veil some on corrupt House process, explaining in a press release why he will join other Republican House members in voting against Boehner’s reelection as speaker. Massie, who joined the House in November of 2012, states:

During my first two years as a congressman I discovered a significant source of the dysfunction. I watched the House Leadership:

• Schedule a fiscal crisis in a lame duck session on the last legislative day before Christmas to get maximum leverage over rank and file members,

• Mislead members into thinking that a vote on an unpopular bill was postponed, only to then conduct a rushed voice vote on the $10 billion unfunded spending measure with fewer than a dozen members present,

• Give members less than 72 hours to read bills over 1,000 pages long, and

• Remove members from committees simply because they voted for the principles upon which they campaigned.

Massie thus presents a disturbing though incomplete list of instances of procedural corruption. Other recent examples include:

Quickly passing by a voice vote on December 11 expansive legislation escalating US conflict with Russia and increasing US military and economic involvement in Ukraine after the conclusion of legislative business for the day, when almost all members of the House were away from the House floor, so that nobody was present to demand a debate and recorded vote,

Altering a bill regarding the US government’s mass spying program in secret after committee approval of the legislation and then preventing consideration of any amendments to the bill on the House floor in May,

• Applying House rules to favor or disfavor particular political agendas, for example, allowing an appropriations bill to restrict Washington, DC from reducing penalties related to marijuana while barring Massie from seeking in July to amend the bill on the House floor to restrict DC’s enforcement of its firearms-related prohibitions, and

• Boehner declaring for months that the House should vote the ongoing war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria up or down, while all the while refusing to schedule a vote on the matter.

The list goes on. And the procedural shenanigans are nothing new. For example, back on November 22, 2003 a 15-minute vote — called in the middle of the night when constituents were sleeping — regarding approval of a pharmaceuticals industry-backed Medicare bill was held open for about three hours as leadership twisted arms until enough votes were switched to pass the bill. Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was the speaker then.

Neither are Democrat leaders blame free. Much of Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders’ process manipulation would go nowhere without the support or acquiescence of the Democrat leadership. Plus, we should expect a new Democrat speaker and assorted leaders to behave in much the same way Republican leaders have with a majority over the last four years. As Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Chairman and former Republican Representative from Texas Ron Paul commented regarding the transition to a Republican majority in the US Senate, “it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.” Paul elaborates that leaders like Boehner in the House and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are “bipartisan on the wicked things” including military interventions.

Whether the “R” or “D” team wins control of the House or Senate, as well as who are named as the leaders, is ultimately not of great importance in the quest for ensuring respect for individual rights and promoting peace. As Paul has explained on many occasions, positive change in American politics can arise only with expanded education of the people in the “ideas of liberty.” When that education crosses the threshold where a core of people are firmly committed to advancing liberty and the majority of people are open to that transition, Paul explains, dramatic changes can occur.

As Paul says, “an idea whose time has come cannot be stopped by any army or any government.” Neither can it be stopped by politicians like Boehner and Reid, or the out-of-view special interests with whom they work.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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