Yielding the Floor to 'the Loyal Opposition'

* I'd like to thank The Times for publishing reader observations about Republicans who are frustrated by the abusive and dictatorial conduct of the liberal Democrat leadership in Congress (Letters, May 1).

While some of the sarcasm was clever, the crackdown by liberal Democrats on openness and debate is a serious threat to the democratic process, and it impacts every American. For example, during the current Congress, 79% of all bills have been restricted by Democrat-ordered rules that severely restrict debate and amendments.

That means that during consideration of President Clinton's massive tax increase, significant Republican amendments to cut spending and reduce taxes were prohibited. Because there was no debate, liberal big spenders were protected from having to cast recorded votes on many important and worthy proposals. This also happened during consideration of the recent crime bill. Most of the very best, tough-on-crime Republican proposals were blocked from consideration on the House floor.

Republicans can achieve legislative victories, such as the recent passage of Police Corps legislation, which I first introduced in 1989, and passage of my death penalty legislation for treason in cases in which people die. But to do so requires overcoming significant obstacles, many erected by tyrannical, liberal Democrat policy.

Unlike the U.S. Senate, the House is supposed to operate on the basis that the majority always wins. However, that is only on paper. With the extraordinary power granted to committee chairmen who decide what bills will be considered in their committees and the Rules Committee (stacked 9 to 4 in favor of Democrats), which decides what will be considered on the floor in debate, the legislation supported by the majority is easily derailed by a handful of congressmen. This is a powerful argument for term limits.

Should anti-tax, pro-defense conservatives like me join the Democratic Party, a bizarre suggestion made by one of your readers? Of course not. The frustration level for conservatives in the Democratic Party, who are trying to cut taxes and reduce spending, is equally high. Just ask Rep. Timothy J. Penny (D-Minn.) and other conservative Democrats whose beliefs and values are out of sync with the liberal Democratic leadership. Penny is quitting.

No one who runs for Congress ever expects to be in the minority forever. But when you have accomplished as much as I have fighting taxes, savage defense cuts and runaway government regulation, then it's easy to say, as I do: I'm proud to be a member of the loyal opposition.

REP. ROBERT K. DORNAN

(R-Garden Grove)

* Just to set the record straight: At no time did I indicate that I was disillusioned or frustrated with my role as a Republican in a Democrat-controlled Congress (Letters, May 1). Democrats now have control of both houses of Congress, as well as the executive branch. They've used their power to raise taxes, enact costly regulation and pass a crime bill that guts the death penalty. It's exciting to see the Democrats finally unmasking themselves with every new extreme, leftist policy and appointment announced by the Administration. Not only am I not frustrated, I am excited about being a stalwart and offering a positive conservative alternative to the current liberal nonsense.

Also, I couldn't help but notice a letter you printed claiming I'd limited a constituent's right to question my votes at a town hall meeting. My town hall meetings have been open, and no question or short statement has ever been ruled out. The case mentioned was a Democrat who wanted to give a speech and a rebuttal to every answer at a town hall meeting. Courtesy dictates that time at town hall meetings be dedicated to public questions so people will have the chance to hear their elected representatives. This person's insistence on using limited time to give a speech about her concerns was a bit arrogant.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER

(R-Huntington Beach)

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