The Salmon Rule


About the author: Becky is a conservative citizen activist who grew up in the 1980's Reagan era. During that time it was not unusual for American's to hear a great deal about the Cold War and to be concerned about the possibility of a nuclear war. When the Cold War ended, American entered an era of peace and prosperi ... [read 's FULL BIO]

A Michigan Democrat by the name of John D. Dingell once said “I’ll let you write the substance…you let me write the procedure, and I’ll screw you every time.”

Representative Matt Salmon, a Republican from Arizona, has proposed a new, self imposed rule. It is not one that he can force his fellow congressmen to follow but he is hopeful that they will follow suit. It is being called the Salmon rule on rules, and it is a simple beginning to finding solutions to our fiscal crisis.

Have you ever tried to figure out the procedures by which the House of Representatives pass legislation? I have. Woof. In order to give you some background about the Salmon Rule on Rules I am going to try to give you a very brief outline of the process. But we warned; even congressmen new to the house struggle to understand it all. I confess that this is extremely simplified and I cannot guarantee that I have it perfectly right. Then again, I’m not sure you could find a congressman who could tell you for sure either.

1. A congressman has an idea and sponsors a bill.
2. The bill is assigned to a committee where it is studied and considered.
3. If said bill is released from committee it is then sent to the Rules Committee.
4. The Rules Committee applies the rules to that bill that dictate how much time can be spent debating the bill and how many amendments, if any, can be applied to it. The House votes to approve the rules applied to any bill and the applied rule is generally approved without opposition.
5. The bill is put on the calendar for vote. If passed it will go to the Senate.

Seems simple enough, right? It is anything but. Let’s take a look at the Rules Committee. Things get sticky there. You see, the Rules Committee is very powerful. It is controlled by the majority party. So imagine what the majority party can do with this power. There are four different rules they can apply to the bill in question, and that will determine the success of the bill and the ability of those in opposition to challenge it. The four types of rules that may be applied are;

An “open” rule permits general debate for a certain period of time (one, two or three hours or more depending on the importance of the legislation and the legislative schedule) and allows any Member to offer an amendment that complies with the standing rules of the House and the Budget Act under the five minute rule.

A “modified open” rule permits general debate and allows any Member to offer a germane amendment under the five minute rule subject only to an overall time limit on the amendment process and/or a requirement that the amendment(s) be pre-printed in the Congressional Record.

A “structured” or “modified closed” rule permits general debate for a certain period of time but the Rules Committee limits the amendments that may be offered to only those designated in the special rule or the Rules Committee report to accompany the special rule or precludes amendments to a particular portion of a bill, even though the rest of the bill may be completely open to amendment.
A “closed” rule permits debate for a certain period of time, but allows no amendments to be offered to the bill.

What Salmon argues is that most congressmen vote to approve the rules even if they vote against the bill. The problem is that those rules dictate the amount of debate that can happen over the bill and how many amendments can be applied to it, if any. So if you are opposed to the bill, why would you give the majority party the assured success of the bill by voting yes to the rules they applied to ensure its success?
Thus the birth of the Salmon Rule. Rep. Salmon has pledged to vote NO to the rules applied by the Rules Committee for any bill that pushes for more spending without equal cuts to something else. The goal is to stop Congress from passing legislation that increases spending or debt. He will also vote no to rules that do not have the support of the majority of the GOP Conference. If enough fiscal conservatives join him in this stand they might just be able to get the out of control spending under control. It’s a good start, if they can achieve it.

Folks, I don’t care which party you affiliate yourself with. Personally, I am becoming more and more disgusted with political parties et al. I hope we can all agree on this though. That fiscal cliff that everyone is talking about? It’s looming. Remember the riots in Greece? Remember the images of mass riots, people starving, begging for work, begging for food and medicine? While politicians argue about how much they can take from us this year we are all suffering under the heavy hand of their greed and hubris. There are as many theories as there are people but it’s hard to argue when it comes to our unsustainable debt and ridiculous annual deficits. I encourage you to contact your Congressman, or visit him or her in their district office over the Easter break. Ask them to stand with Representative Salmon and his rule on rules.
The politicians keep writing the procedures, and they screw us every time.

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  • billygeturgun

    Here’s an idea Mr. Salmon: Submit a bill on it’s own merits and WITHOUT any add ons or amendments! That is the problem with laws now is that every time a bill is put forward, you folks add all kinds of amendments that have absolutely nothing to do with the original bill. If you want amendments, MAKE THEM BILLS TO BEGIN WITH and vote on them then.

    • Saltporkdoc

      What you ae referring to is a “Clean Bill” and, while I agree is a significant problem, there is also the issue of non debate of bills presented. Even a Clean Bill must be debated as no bill is so clear cut that every representative is 100% sure of his/her vote. Debate permits THOUGHTFUL deliberation of one’s position on an issue and persuasion or disuasion on the matter. It is the matter of debate that is also addressed in Salmon’s proposal. Without debate, voting becomes mere rubberstamping which is where we have gotten to today!

      • billygeturgun

        I have no problem with and support a rational debate. Like you, I feel it is necessary to educate each other by the debate. What I have a problem with is trying to pass a defense budget bill and adding an amendment related to a study on whether a frog can give himself an orgasm while under water with a tadpole hanging on his nose! You get my drift?

        • Saltporkdoc

          Or a 2700 page Healthcare Reform bill that “has to be passed before you find out what’s in it!” Yeah we agree 100%

          I think I replied because I am so frustrated at what passes as “debate” these days. Now debate is just a windbag going for a sound bite. There is no effort to weigh the pros and/or cons nor to persuade or disuade. I know better and I wasn’t even on the high school debate team! (We were too small to have one!)
          I felt there would be some who would read your post and forget that “Mr Smith” of the movie succeeded with his filibuster by persuading others to his side of a “lost cause”.
          I truely believe it is a return to that form of legislating that would begin to break the stranglehold of lobbyists as true deliberation of the merits of a piece of legislation were PUBLICLY disclosed in open debate.

          • billygeturgun

            Yes, I agree. That is part of the problem is the back room agreements with no public discourse on how you got there.

          • Saltporkdoc

            I guess we’ll have to take their word for it that this is the most transparent
            administration ever!

          • billygeturgun

            Yep, transparent as mud!

    • Wealth is a social contract enforced by government that it’s holders need to pay to maintain but many things that need to be done to protect wealth can’t be done by government without creating power that will ultimately destroy society.

      Over the last 80+ years Democrats have been implementing socialism and Republicans have played the part of a ratchet, keeping the kluged mess from failing. As time passed the corrupt system has slowly squeezed freedom and liberty out of peoples lives.

      We need to take a bold step, find a different way to solve problems Democrats “fixed” in unprincipled ways while Republicans talked about free markets and let
      large corporate interests trample them.

      The three principles of good government:

      1. PROTECT individual’s property.
      2. PROVIDE stable currency and rules necessary for free markets.
      3. PROMOTE general welfare, by giving credit, NOT by tax and spend.

      Since the beginning of the industrial revolution the means to end poverty has been available, yet the ratio of poor to rich has gotten worse. One of the reasons for the growing disparity is confusion of income for wealth.

      Wealth isn’t a possession, it’s a social contract depending on government that needs to be maintained. Taxing income to protect the wealth of the elite puts the burden on those without sufficient assets to care for themselves and prevents them from accumulating them. Income tax maintains the power of the elite who’ve sequestered their assets in tax exempt foundations and many are nothing more than left wing PACs.

      Income tax on the productive kills job growth and grows unemployment. Only the productive have income, the “rich” can live forever and not produce a thing.

      The best guarantor of rights is wealth and the best way for government to promote welfare is to promote the growth of wealth. The poor, who have insufficient assets to care for themselves shouldn’t be required to pay taxes and most people think they don’t because the taxes are hidden in the cost of living. The truth is In terms of time the poor labor the most of any class paying taxes.

      The left recognizes this disparity and comes up with a solution that makes it worse. The right fails to recognize wealth is a contract and poverty festers no matter which party is in control.

      The way for government to promote welfare is by giving credit to those that do. Corporations and individuals that invest in communities are at a disadvantage when not given credit for what they do and squeezed out by those that don’t.

      1. Require the sum of all taxes contributing to product cost be shown on the sticker.

      2. Return those taxes to the poor in the form on an interest boosting credit on their savings. (assets)

      3. This will lower the cost of living of the Poor to the point an entry level job will provide enough for them to live without need of government handouts.

      4. Give tax credits to those who help the poor and phase out all government charity “designed” to help them. Poverty is primarily a spiritual problem government handouts make worse. What is most needed is jobs and training, give credit to business that do. Paying people not to work with money taken from job producers is evil.

  • Here’s something for all of you in politics and the general public to chew on. How about STOP WRITING BILLS, STOP ADDING LAWS, JUST STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE ENOUGH. JUST ENFORCE THE ONES WE HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then go home and spend time with your family. You people in politics need to do this more, spend time at home with family and friends and constituents, you’ll get a better idea of what they want you to do if your around them more. Remember one thing, this is a representative republic and you represent us, not Washington.

    • billygeturgun

      I agree. If we don’t enforce the laws we have, what good are we doing by creating new ones?