Friday, 16 October 2009

Why Procedure Matters

The Rules and procedures of legislative bodies seem a bore to most people - even many legislators themselves. However the canny legislator (and staffer; and campaigner) takes time to learn the rules. Why? - a few choice quotes -

Representative Bill Steiger (A Congressional Reformer) “procedure is substance.”

House Republican Leader Bob Michel, “Procedure hasn’t simply become more important than substance—it has, through some strange alchemy, become the substance of our deliberations. Who rules House procedures, rules the House—and to a great degree, rules the kind and scope of political debate in this country.”

Dean of the House, Democratic Congressman John Dingell of Michigan “"I'll let you write the substance . . . and you let me write the procedure, and I'll screw you every time."
(Hearings on H.R. 2327 Before the Subcomm. on Admin. Law and Governmental Relations of the House Comm. on the Judiciary, 98 Cong., 1st Sess. 312 (1983)).

...and it can be quite interesting too!