SOMETHING revolutionary occurred Thursday in Washington: A major piece of legislation with bipartisan backing and the strong support of the president failed to pass the Senate.Why? Because major legislation in the form of the immigration bill made it to the Senate floor with the backing of the Majority Leader (and the President), and was defeated on its merits. It consisted of 400 pages of revisions to the U.S. Code, and up until now, no one, outside the Congressional staffers who wrote it, would know enough about the legislation, soon enough, to defeat it on its merits. But an army of lobbyists, lawyers, and bloggers went to work on it, tore it apart, and showed that it wouldn't do what was being advertised, but rather would make the situation far worse.
Now, if we can just overcome conference committee earmarks. The problem there is that the earmark process has apparently moved to conference committee in order to shield it from just this sort of scrutiny. Now, instead of being able to vote to remove them, all Senators and Representatives have available is an up or down vote on the entire bill, massive earmarks and all.