One of the things new House Speaker John Boehner said he intended to do was to give up some of the power the majority holds in the House, to spread around some of the power he and his party holds. He didn’t give out too many details, but the general idea was to make the House a bit less of a pure democracy, and more of a republic — majority rule, but recognition of the rights of the minority.
Kind of like the Senate, in a sense, where a simple majority isn’t enough to do much, but needs a supermajority to get things done when the minority puts up a stink.
This is happening at the same time when the Democrats who run the Senate are talking about changing their own rules. Initially, they were discussing the abolition of the filibuster entirely, but now they are just proposing changing it a bit — making it a wee bit tougher to sustain, requiring that filibusterers actually put some work into their efforts, but preserving it as an institution.
Which makes me wonder if there’s some interesting back-deal negotiations going on within Congress. I’ve no inside sources, or even access to vague rumors and innuendos, but I find myself speculating: could Speaker Boehner or his people reached out to Majority Leader Reid and his people, and said, in effect, “you take it easy on our people in your House, and we’ll take it easy on your people in ours?” Could Boehner’s offer of granting more rights and powers to the House minority party been in exchange for the Senate cutting back on how much they wanted to curtail the power of their minority party?
I have no idea. But I think that it’s a distinct possibility — and if it wasn’t, it should have been. It would demonstrate a bit of pragmatism and bipartisanship, and set a good tone — that this Congress is willing to go beyond strict partisanship and find ways to get along and get things done over the next two years.