How many Reps. does it take to pass a resolution?

It apparently takes less than a handful of state representatives to pass a House Resolution, as two resolutions were approved today in the Iowa House — after House leaders said yesterday that there would be no floor action.  Resolutions are generally non-binding documents, although some resolutions do call for action, like a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage or impeachment of four of the justices on the Iowa Supreme Court.

Today’s resolutions passed quickly, as the House convened, prayed, said the Pledge, and passed the two resolutions in the span of four minutes according to the Iowa General Assembly’s website, which says the House convened at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 10:16 a.m.

At the national level, House Speaker John Boehner has tried to enforce tighter rules so the U.S. House will no longer consider “frivolous” resolutions that are symbolic or congratulatory — especially those commemorating athletic exploits — like Congratulations to the World Champion (fill in the blank)!  Boehner has even been reluctant to pass a resolution honoring the Navy Seals & the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Iowa House in the past when Democrats were in control had taken steps to avoid passing commemorative or “making a statement” resolutions, too.  Such resolutions generally must have been bipartisan and either statewide or national in scope, but there’s no mention in House rules of any limitations on resolution topics this year under Republican control.  This year the House has honored bacon, among other things, along with some athletic exploits.  The House also marked the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth (in a resolution sponsored by Republicans) and the 100th anniversary of IBM’s founding (in a resolution sponsored by Democrats and Republicans from the Dubuque area where IBM now has a facility).  There’s even been a resolution marking the Wuchang Uprising.  Really.

The most recent House Debate Calendar is for Wednesday, May 4 and there were no resolutions listed on it. Two resolutions were passed this morning. One articulates Texas Congressman and two-time (perhaps three-time) presidential candidate Ron Paul’s call for an audit of the Federal Reserve System.  It was cosponsored by 18 Republicans.  The other resolution, sponsored by just one Republican, calls for a two-year moratorium on enforcement of air quality rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The top Democrat in the Iowa House issued a statement on today’s developments:

STATEMENT FROM HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY ON CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION APPROVED IN VIRTUALLY EMPTY HOUSE CHAMBER

“Once again, House Republicans are governing in an extremist fashion.  Because of the budget standoff, all representatives in the Iowa House were sent home this past Wednesday.  However, this morning to a virtually empty House Chamber, Republican Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer brought up and passed a controversial measure calling for a “two year moratorium” on plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curtail efforts to stop polluters.

House Resolutions relay the will of Iowans and are almost always non-partisan, like the resolution honoring WWII veterans.  Since the measure was approved, the Iowa House is also directed to inform Iowa’s congressional delegation about its passage giving the false impression that it had unanimous, bi-partisan support in the Iowa House.  House Democrats will be submitting our own letter to Iowa’s congressional delegation to let them know we did not support this controversial legislation and it should not have been called up for debate in our absence.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.