05-12-10, 02:53 PM #1
US Legislature: No Riders for You, Bill
Rider- NationMaster.comIn legislative practice, a rider is an additional provision annexed to a bill under the consideration of a legislature, having little connection with the subject matter of the bill. They are usually created as a tactic to pass a controversial provision which would not pass as its own bill. Occasionally, a controversial provision is attached to a less important bill not to be passed itself but to prevent the bill from being passed (in which case it is called a poison pill). Use of riders is customary in many legislative bodies, including the Congress of the United States.
Riders are most effective when attached to an important bill, such as an appropriation bill, because to veto or postpone such a bill could delay funding to governmental programs, causing serious problems.
The practical consequence of this custom is a limitation of the veto power of the executive: because the veto is an all-or-nothing power, the executive must either accept the riders or strike down the entire bill. In the United States, the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, a law struck down by the United States Supreme Court as unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York, allowed the President to veto single objectionable items, without affecting the main purpose of bills.
Where I live, "normal" people still hitch-hike. I still stop to offer a lift when I'm driving along and notice someone who appears to want a lift. I've never stopped to pick up a rider in D.C. though, because it's not like my neck of the woods.
Our legislature should be forbidden from picking up riders on official business. It's much too dangerous for democracy inside the Beltway. Riders picked up in legislation too often are not what they seem. Sometimes riders sabotage a bill that is on track to become a necessary law, even though the rider-assailant has no relationship. Sometimes a small dose of poison is injected in a bill that does pass- in a technique of "gotcha" politics we often hear during election season that "Senator ____ voted for _____ ! What a _____!" Riders are most commonly used to insert "pork" into legislation, routinely opening our treasury to uncontrolled federal spending.
Our Constitution bestows a democratic republic, but this long-accepted back-channel in the legislative process blatantly undermines the principles of representative democracy in the USA. Like threads in a forum, things go better one issue at a time: If an issue does not fall under a clear and specific definition that must be required at any bill's introduction, then the same process (as distilled for basic civics education in an old Schoolhouse Rock song) should begin again for any separate issue- from the beginning, and even if the tune seems tiresome. Separate bills for separate issues, each to stand or fall on their own merits. If such reform should slow down the process of lawmaking, then all the better, so be it.
Schoolhouse Rock- How a Bill Becomes a Law (full original clip 3:01 youtube)
Last edited by hypewaders; 05-12-10 at 02:58 PM.
05-12-10, 03:16 PM #2
There is little doubt that legislative riders have been abused in the past. But I am not sure that outlawing them is the right approach. Have you ever tried to get 500 plus people to agree on something? It is a monumental task...especially when you have each of those 500 plus people be pressured by every special interest in town to do this or that.
The rider, used correctly, can be used to help speed up the legislative process...a short cut if you will. And that can be a good thing. Riders should be fully disclosed and debated, too often they are not....placed in bills hours before voting with no notice and no disclosure.
So I don't think we need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
05-12-10, 04:34 PM #3
Throw out the baby, the bathwater, and the whole damned tub.
05-12-10, 05:09 PM #4
You can have ridders and transparency. It is not an either or nothing proposition. Too often in the past, these little ridders get packaged into legislation in the 11th hour with no disclosure and that is wrong.
05-12-10, 08:25 PM #5
Kenny Brockelstein: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Democracy just doesn't work."
I think the real problem is that people need to elect better leaders.
05-12-10, 09:20 PM #6
I'm going to have to agree with our resident charlton heston here.
Fuck the riders, simplify our corrupt legislative system.
05-13-10, 12:08 AM #7
someone should sneak in a rider that fires all of congress and the legislature.
05-13-10, 08:30 AM #8
Our national government DID once have the ability to eliminate those riders (also called earmarks) through something called the "line item veto" that was briefly enacted by Congress during Bill Clinton's presidency. It was a very useful tool, which allowed president Clinton to selectively strike out individual portions of each bill that came before him, so that he could better shape the law. Its primary purpose was to reduce spending. It worked well... until a jealous Mayor Rudy Giuliani filed a lawsuit against Clinton and caused the line item veto to be struck down in the supreme court. Thanks paisan.
source: I am well-versed in Con Law, and this all happened over ten years ago, as an FYI for those who have just "come into the fray," as it were.
Last edited by WillNever; 05-13-10 at 08:37 AM.
05-13-10, 08:31 AM #9
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