Friday, December 22, 2006

Blocking of Votes on Amendments in Congress

The practice of legislatures both state and federal of blocking votes on amendments to bills before the House of Representatives or Senate is a practice that should make voters angry. The representatives or senators have the right to have their amendments placed before the full Senate or House of Representatives. Denying proposed amendments does not allow the process to work for all the constituents of the applicable senator or representative. Granted there are times when the submitting amendments to bills being generated are an attempt to water down the original proposed bill. This kind of action by any senator or representative does not serve their constituents best interest. They are there to make sure that the interest of their constituents and/or our country is best served.

The process of submitting amendments to proposed legislation should not have limits. This right as discussed above is where senators and representatives have a right to place an amendment to legislation that is being processed. This right includes the right of a vote by the entire legislative body to which they belong, not just a committee. The process should be specific and the rules followed for all proposed amendments. Denying actions by representatives and senators to propose amendments violates their rights and duties in their respective offices. Proposed amendments should not be rejected simply for the reason that the committee disagrees with the content. Within reason, amendments should be limited if it can be determined that the amendments are an attempt to water down the overall purpose of the original piece of legislation. This can be hard to determine in some cases. One example where amendments may be restricted is where they are intended to be applicable to only a specific segment of society such as the district to which the representative or senator is serving.

Senators and Representatives should only propose amendments to legislation that add value and/or is in the best interest of their constituents and our country. Any proposed amendments should be to add value and/or clarify vague conditions contained in the original. Many times when legislation is written subjects are not covered that are important to the content and success of the legislation. This, I believe, is the purpose of having amendments to legislation. Amendments should enhance legislation.

To summarize I would like to add that any senator or representative who proposes amendments to legislation should consider if they are adding value. They should not be an attempt to dilute the legislation. If amendments do not add value, then they do not deserve to be recognized. This statement is made without restriction to party affiliation. Amendments by any party should be reviewed on the basis of merit not because a party not in power does generate them. This is the only way a senator or a representative can truly serve the best interest of the public they serve.


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