Rep Burgess: We Are Under Martial Law! As Declared By The Speaker Last Night! (updated)

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Updated: What “Martial Law” means in this case:

To report the martial law rule waiving a requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII with respect to consideration of any resolution reported from the Rules Committee, through the legislative day of September 29, 2008. It does not apply to any specific measure, but rather grants blanket authority.


And another:

July 28, 2006



What is “Martial Law”?

The House leadership is using a parliamentary gambit to evade a longstanding House rule that is supposed to ensure that this kind of obfuscation does not occur.  That House rule (Rule XIII(6)(a)) provides that a resolution (called a rule) reported by the Rules Committee cannot be considered by the House on the same legislative day that the rule is reported (except by a two-thirds vote of the House).  This is supposed to ensure that Members of the House and the public have at least one day to examine and analyze what is in legislation before they have to debate and vote on it.

To maneuver around this House rule and rush the three proposals discussed above to a vote before they have been fully examined, the Rules Committee reported a rule late Thursday afternoon (H.Res. 958) that would waive the application of Rule XIII(6)(a).  Instead, it would allow the Rules Committee to wait until the last minute and not to report the rules governing the consideration of these bills or to release the text of the bills themselves until immediately before debate and votes on the bills, and on the rules governing their consideration, commences.

This extraordinary procedure is known as a “martial law” rule because it suspends the normal procedures and safeguards and allows the House Leadership to operate in a more authoritarian fashion.  It enables the Leadership to seek to ram a bill or conference report through before the Members have the opportunity to fully understand what they are voting on.

Legislation that has far-reaching implications for millions of Americans deserves to be considered under a more democratic process.  Waiting until the last minute to reveal what is in these bills, and then “spinning” or potentially mischaracterizing changes in the bills without Members of the House or the public having an opportunity to obtain a more objective review of what the legislation does, is unfair to Members of the House.  It also is unfair to the millions of Americans whose lives could be affected by this legislation.  It represents a further step in reducing the degree of transparency and democracy in how this country is governed and how decisions are made.  At a time when our leaders preach the goal of promoting democracy abroad, they should not be reducing it at home.


We Are Under Martial Law! Rep Burgess

shane3832 on Feb 5, 2009

September 28, 2008 C-SPAN


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18 thoughts on “Rep Burgess: We Are Under Martial Law! As Declared By The Speaker Last Night! (updated)

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  9. As of Oct. 1, the entire country is under military occupation. Wednesday. Yeah, I think the Beltway Bigshots planned all this and knew that the People wouldn’t take kindly to this Wall Street rip off.

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  11. Let me know what you find, Kellie. My understanding is that this has indeed happened before. See the second link in the “updated” part, it’s from 2006. Saw another one today from 2005.

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