How to label the Congress “Republican”
    in the voters’ minds

Why not a motion to expel DeLay?

Amy Sullivan points out that voters are increasingly unhappy with the performance of the Congress. With Republicans firmly in control of both Houses, that ought to be good news for Democrats.

Unfortunately, as Amy also points out, the voters mostly don’t have a clue about which party runs the Congress whose performance they’re unhappy with, which means that the discontent may not do the Democrats much good. (Indeed, there’s every possibility that the Republicans will continue to run against “Washington,” even though they now are “Washington.”)

So we need ways of converting generic discontent with Sentors and Congressfolk into specific disgust at the Republicans running the show. We need a partisan showdown in which Democrats attack Congressional corruption and malfeasance while Republicans defend Congressional corruption and malfeasance.

My suggestion of a couple of days ago that the Democrats in the House file a motion to expel Tom DeLay and use the rules to force a floor vote on it was intended to create just such a showdown.

Note that the showdown on expulsion needn’t be a one-day affair; nothing in the rules prevents such a resolution from being filed repeatedly, and since the evidence against DeLay will likely continue to accumulate there will be ample justification for the claim that last week’s vote didn’t take into account this week’s evidence.

To date, as far as I can tell, no one has blogged either support for, or criticism of, that proposal. As the author of many bad ideas, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be one of them: either operationally infeasible due to some aspect of the House Rules I didn’t reckon on or politically inexpedient. But I’d like to hear why.

DeLay richly deserves to be expelled. His party, under his direction, has deliberately disabled the Ethics Committee, which would be the ordinary vehicle for considering his misconduct. Why shouldn’t the Democrats use the rules to force a vote, or multiple votes, on the question? After a month or two of that, the voters would have an excellent idea which party is presiding over the mess, and which party is trying to clean it up.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: