There Are Leaders and Followers in Both Houses

Manila Bulletin, April 16, 2005 | Go to article overview

There Are Leaders and Followers in Both Houses


PEOPLE who have always been critical of Members of Congress in general for what they thought was their grossly self-indulgent extravagance found confirmation the other day when they read about the Country Governance Assessment conducted by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.

The study which is an assessment of the quality of governance of the country, shows that to pass a single bill into law, Congress spends some R11.4 million with R3 million spent by the House and R8.4 million by the 24-member Senate.

The estimate is based on the annual outlay for Congress corresponding to the number of bills it passed and signed into law by the President.

***

Of course, how a bill becomes a law or the "dance of legislation," so called is relatively simple if only because it passes through specific procedure; the complexities occur when the details get into the process of the broad congressional agenda.

As you may know, a bill can be altered in substance and content at any phase of the congressional process and those who wish to influence legislation do it for their own purpose, thus amendments are made repeatedly and often fuzzily slow and at times, incomprehensible.

***

It has been said that "Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, while Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work."

It was Woodrow Wilson who said that more than a century ago of the United States Congress but it holds true today in the US and probably in all Congresses in the world, particularly in the Philippine Congress, except that here, committee meetings are not all work at all with television, they are also public entertainment, in aid of legislation. …

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