Opinion

Felix Salmon

The House of Representatives vs automaker bankruptcy

By Felix Salmon
July 10, 2009

I’m no great fan of the Senate, and especially of the way in which you seem to need a 60-40 supermajority to get just about anything passed these days. But then along comes the House to make the Senate look great:

A majority of House members have signed onto a bill to reverse the closing of 789 Chrysler dealerships and block General Motors Corp. from closing more than 1,300.

Notes Kevin Drum:

This is a wholly nonideological porkfest, with 133 Democratic cosponsors and 88 Republican cosponsors. (So far.) Which just goes to show: under the right circumstances, bipartisanship isn’t dead after all.

In our bicameral system, this is exactly the kind of thing that the Senate was designed to stop becoming law. Congressional districts are small enough that individual auto dealers can wield a lot of power with their Congressperson; states, by contrast, are large enough that individual auto dealers have little if any clout with their Senators. But it’s still utterly depressing that Congresspeople are out signing the Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act of 2009, which is designed to do an end-run around one of the most successful bankruptcy proceedings in living memory, and which would singlehandedly put the US auto industry onto yet another road to ruin.

I can hope only that this is gesture politics: safe in the knowledge that this act will never become a law, politicians can sponsor it without fear of its repercussions. Ah, the circus that is DC.

Comments
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The only problem is that it works the other way as well. When the House (albeit rarely) passes something useful, it often gets either (a) very watered down to pass or (b) stalled indefinitely.

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