Saturday, May 28, 2005

Riders on the storm

U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, had a tough choice this week: Either he could vote for "Buy American" legislation that could hurt his hometown's chances of landing a $600 million foreign aircraft plant, or he could be accused of hating the military and, indeed, freedom itself.

One of the flaws of the American legislative process is that you can get almost anything, no matter how silly or unpopular, passed into law if you attach it to the right bill. Thanks to riders, amendments don't even have to be relevant to the measure at hand; any tangential tack-on is just fine.

Riders often are used for pork-barrel spending, so they're common in appropriations bills. And because we're at war, the trend du jour is to add highly controversial or protectionist amendments to military spending bills. That's how Congress approved the national ID system earlier this month, and it's also how the House endorsed the "Buy American" provision that got Bonner in some hot water.

It's a Machiavellian tactic. It's not good for the republic. And without a doubt, it's very effective.


Blogger Hanging by the News said...

Quick link for you: Alabama gets Airbus plant

1:55 PM  

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