Washington vs. Minnesota lawmakers


Say what you want about the Minnesota Legislature, but it’s a fine example of the difference between state lawmakers and those who work in Washington.

The U.S. House of Representatives “debated” the recently-reached budget deal, but there was no give-and-take because there were virtually no congresspeople there to hear it, as this screenshot from C-SPAN shows just as the vote started this afternoon,

In Minnesota, meanwhile, it was a full boat at the Senate when it voted in favor of lifting restrictions on siting coal-burning power plants today (roll call here).


There’s little indication having to be present and listen to people with whom the senators may disagree has any impact on one’s positions, but at least they had the opportunity to hear all of the debate.

  • Erica

    That’s riduculous. As you said, they may not change their minds, but I still believe they are being PAID by taxpayers (whose money they all claim to care so much about spending wisely) to be PRESENT and do their jobs.

    Maybe I don’t know enough about ‘how it works’ in Congress, but it doesn’t seem right to me.

  • Jonathan

    Every year C-SPAN requests the ability to point their cameras anywhere in Senate and House chambers during debate, and every year their request is denied. The Congressional leadership (in both parties) is embarrassed to show the public how empty the room always is.

  • http://www.cleanairchoice.org Bob Moffitt

    My organization (the American Lung Association in Minnesota) strongly opposes the pro-coal bill passed by the Senate today.

    We will contine to speak out against the compainion bill in the House and take our case directly to Minnesota residents.

    This fight is far from over.

  • matt

    At the Federal level:

    How many hours of testimony do various congressional committees, subcommittees hear each day? How many bills need to be read, how much time must be spent communicating with constituents, special interest groups, staffers etc?

    To think you are going to get 435 in the room for each debate is just silliness. Especially when you are talking about a bill that was negotiated among 5 people and their staffs.

    The important lesson though is that each time we take power from a more local branch of govt and consolidate it to a higher the level of care and scrutiny is reduced. This is why a State should not negotiate teacher contracts for school districts and Medicare/Medicaid should be block grants as Ryan proposes. Both parties violate this simple maxim to the peril of all that they supposedly serve.

  • JackU

    Oddly enough the tool that shows there are no Representatives in the House chamber is the tool that allows them to stay out of the chamber working in their offices, C-SPAN. With C-SPAN covering the debate any member not involved in the proceedings can watch them from their office while engaging in “constituent service” or preparing for the debate on a bill that they are involved in.

    So I don’t think it’s safe to say that just because they are not there they are not paying attention to the debate.

  • Bob Collins

    //Especially when you are talking about a bill that was negotiated among 5 people and their staffs.

    I was just joking with someone today that we might as well cut the size of Congress to about 425 people since only about 10 or so matter.

    I’m not sure the legislature is much different.