Sunday, January 09, 2005

Left Behind 

Nine months ago we told you about two competing models for post-apocalyptic governance: the Doomsday Bill (which establishes the ground rules under which a depopulated Congress would run the country) and the Armageddon Plan (which would streamline the process considerably by eliminating Congress altogether).

Now Zemblan patriot J.M. sends word that the House of Representatives, ever alert to the prospect of its own irrelevance, has unsurprisingly thrown its support behind the Doomsday Bill:
With no fanfare, the U.S. House has passed a controversial doomsday provision that would allow a handful of lawmakers to run Congress if a terrorist attack or major disaster killed or incapacitated large numbers of congressmen.

"I think (the new rule) is terrible in a whole host of ways - first, I think it's unconstitutional,'' said Norm Ornstein, a counselor to the independent Continuity of Government Commission, a bipartisan panel created to study the issue. "It's a very foolish thing to do, I believe, and the way in which it was done was more foolish.''

But supporters say the rule provides a stopgap measure to allow the government to continue functioning at a time of national crisis.

GOP House leaders pushed the provision as part of a larger rules package that drew attention instead for its proposed ethics changes, most of which were dropped.

Usually, 218 lawmakers - a majority of the 435 members of Congress - are required to conduct House business, such as passing laws or declaring war.

But under the new rule, a majority of living congressmen no longer will be needed to do business under "catastrophic circumstances.''

Instead, a majority of the congressmen able to show up at the House would be enough to conduct business, conceivably a dozen lawmakers or less.

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