Secrecy in the Senate

tags: Senate, GOP, Legislation

Katlyn Marie Carter is a postdoctoral fellow at the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan. She holds her Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping tax reform bill just before 2 a.m. on a Saturday, mere hours after releasing the full text of the nearly 500-page piece of legislation.

Republicans were immediately lambasted for voting on it “under cover of darkness,” as Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer put it. The bill — polling at 29 percent according to Gallup — is unpopular, something senators were undoubtedly aware of when deciding how, and when, to vote.

Legislators have recently elicited a steady stream of suspicion for working secretively to advance unpopular policies. In fact, the vote on the tax bill followed the playbook Democrats used in 2010, much to the vocal dismay of Republicans, when the Senate passed its health-care bill at 7 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

Withholding drafts of bills from the public, cutting floor debate short and voting late at night or early in the morning are seen today as procedural maneuvers that our elected officials use to subvert the democratic process.

And yet, working in secret, or “under cover of darkness,” is a tactic as old as the republic itself. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post