Thursday's "The Washington Post's" top-of-the-fold front-page story entitled "House opens up budget process; Some unlikely winners, losers in legislative free-for-all" exemplies Republican Speaker John Boehner's democratic leadership style in sharp contrast with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's dictatorial style when she ran roughshod over the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives these past four years.
In the land-mark legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last night, the "Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011," H.R.1 -- which is this Congress' first designated bill signallying to the American people that the Republicans intend to keep their promises to make dramatic spending cuts in the bloated federal government -- Speaker Boehner allowed an open amendment process (something Pelosi's dictatorial rule did not allow in the last Congress.)
Indeed, close to 600 amendments were offered and most were debated by Democrats and Republicans during the past few days way into the early hours of each morning. The House members earned their pay this week. Speaker Boehner's 87 new Republican freshmen came to Congress with a mandate from the American people to make deep cuts, and last night's vote was a downpayment made by them doing just that.
Today's "The Washington Post" reports: "In a rare early morning weekend vote, the House approved an aggressive plan Saturday to eliminate dozens of federal programs and offices while slashing agency budgets by as much as 40 percent, drawing out more than $60 billion in deficit savings....During the bleary-eyed final roll call at 4:35 a.m., 235 Republicans were joined by no Democrats in support of dramatic spending reductions that they said were needed to address a soaring annual deficit of $1.6 trillion; 189 Democrats -- as well as three Republicans -- opposed it, accusing Republicans of writing the bill with a 'double meat ax.'
"Before the historic vote, Speaker Boehner, in an impromptu, triumphal press conference off the House floor just past 9 p.m. Friday, said: 'It's democracy in action.' Boehner reveled Friday night in both the impending victory and the unusually open process that stretched through most of the week, allowing hundreds of amendments to be proposed and nearly 150 of them to receive votes."
Speaker Boehner's transparent and open amendment process caused him to suffer a loss for his congressional district. The "Post" reported: "Such a free-for-all can have surprising results, and one of the biggest Wednesday was a victory for President Obama and a defeat for a Boehner-backed initiative. Many tea-party-backed freshmen broke ranks with their GOP leaders and joined liberal Democrats in voting to cut funding for an alternative engine for a fighter jet. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine project has long been a frequent but elusive target, as well as one that provided jobs in Boehner's home state of Ohio."
"The Washington Post" reported on Thursday that "In trying to pass a bill that would fund the federal government through September, Boehner has kept a campaign promise to give everyone a voice in the process. But the engine vote showed that no one can quite predict how it will turn out. That didn't seem to bother some House Republicans, though. Rep. Steve King (Iowa) said the debate has been so intense because Republicans and Democrats have 'years of pent-up frustrations' after floor amendments were previously not allowed for such spending bills.
'This constitutional, republican form of government is messy and debate is messy, but I think it's so important that for the first time in how many years now members can actually take their argument to the floor, have a debate, force a recorded vote on their issue,' King said."
It is beyond comprehension that the imperious Nancy Pelosi -- during her short-lived 4-year dictatorial rule of the House -- would have allowed an open amendment process, especially one which would have hurt her San Francisco congressional district. However, even some Democrats, whose leaders treated their opposition with absolute disrespect during the 111th Congress, gave credit to the Republicans for conducting an open-amendment process.
Thursday, on National Public Radio's website, Frank James reported that "Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a long-time ally of fellow Californian, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, likes the way the House is operating under Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), at least when it comes to how the debate over another stop-gap spending bill is being considered. Boehner has let the debate over the continuing resolution to fund government spending past March 4 occur under a so-called open rule that gives House members the chance to offer amendments.
"Miller said, 'it was a pleasure working around the clock last night. This is the way it was when I came here. This is an open rule. This gives people a chance to throw up their amendments. I don't agree with them but we can debate them and decide one way or the other. It's rather retro. We haven't operated this way in probably a decade. But I think it's encouraging so you can air out these issues so people can have a chance to speak on them and represent their constituents in this more open debate.'"
This is the first of many battles the Republicans in the House of Representatives will have with the Democrat-controlled Senate and with Barack Obama. The "Post" article said it this way today: "This debate is the first of several showdowns between the resurgent House Republicans and the Democratically-controlled Senate, including a pending dispute later this spring over Obama's wish to raise the federal debt limit above the current ceiling of $14.3 trillion as Republicans demand budgetary reforms that would restrain government spending."
Speaker of the House John Boehner, who came from a background that the overwhelming majority of the American people can identify with -- he had to fight his 11 siblings for the use of the one bathroom in his Ohio childhood home -- is well on his way to becoming one of the nation's greatest speakers.