Kitty Felde |

Democracy or chaos? The House floor debate

It has been a wild week in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers are debating whether to continue funding the government for a few months - called a continuing resolution. It's not even the big battle to come over next year's budget. But they've been debating ammendments almost 16 hours a day. And it's turned into a debate over exactly what the government should pay for. Backup fighter engines? No. The arts? Not so much. Cops? Of course.

But it's the pace of the debate that amazes. Big issues tackled and tossed aside - sometimes it seems like channel surfing. Late last night, Democrat Barney Frank put it this way: “To debate the whole government, under the guise of a budget and the constraints of a government debate, in not a whole week – two and a half days so far – we have dealt with the most fundamental questions." The Democrat from Massachusetts even referenced the protests spreading throughout the Middle East. "We are the model of democracy, the next thing you know, they’ll be rioting in parts of the world so they can have 10 minutes per issue to debate fundamental issues, this is a travesty!”

The flood of ammendments are just the pent up demand from Republicans - and Democrats - whose ability to tack on special projects or intentions was extremelly limited when Nancy Pelosi was House Speaker. 

Expect more of this speed debate.  It could last through part of the weekend.