<center><h2><a href=http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/07/16/curbing_gops_iron_rule_in_congress/>Curbing GOP's iron rule in Congress</a></h2></center> <blockquote>By Marty Meehan | July 16, 2004 LAST WEEK Congress held a critical vote on whether the FBI should have the power to search people's library records without a judge's approval. The vote began in the usual manner, with every member having 15 minutes to record an "aye" or "nay." After 15 minutes, a majority of members voted to pass the legislation. Under normal circumstances, the chair would have brought down the gavel and announced the final vote tally. Instead, the Republican leadership kept the vote open for an additional 23 minutes. During the time, Republican leaders twisted the arms of rank-and-file members to switch their votes until eventually they were able to bring about a defeat. Unfortunately, such abuses of power have become the norm in Congress. The Republican leadership governs with an iron fist, laying down the law and bending the rules to ensure the outcomes they want. Worse, Congress often operates in secrecy, shutting out the minority and the American people while the door remains open for special interest lobbyists. The abuse of power in Congress reached new levels with last year's Medicare bill. How that awful bill became a law is instructive of all that has gone wrong in Congress: First, the bill was written with the heavy support of industry lobbyists, who spent an unprecedented $140 million to lobby Congress. An army of nearly 1,000 lobbyists stormed Capitol Hill -- nearly half of whom enjoy special access because of past government service. Republicans refused to allow Democrats to participate in the negotiations on finalizing the bill. Not known at the time, two of the key Republican negotiators were at the same time interviewing for high-paying jobs with the drug industry and its lobbying firms.</blockquote> And so we come to one party rule in America. No discussion...no debate...just march in lockstep and do what you're told. Oh and, by the way, ignore that cliff you're coming up to and just keep marching.