Ping pong process previously used rarely and for minor differences between houses

Realclearpolitics has this discussion on how unusual it has been to use the so-called "ping pong" process to reconcile different House and Senate versions of legislation.

In the 109th Congress (2005-2006), the last under GOP control, the House and Senate reconciled major bills through a conference committee 18 of 19 times, according to a report by congressional scholar Don Wolfensberger that was cited in an August 2008 Congressional Research Service analysis of the committee process. In the 110th (2007-2008), major bills were reconciled in conference just 11 of 19 times -- meaning Democrats negotiated eight times as many bills outside of conference as their Republican predecessors.

"While the conference bypass approach is just as legitimate under the rules as going to conference (and sometimes advisable when there are only minor differences to iron out), the procedure is more suspect when used on major bills on which numerous substantive disagreements exist between the houses," Wolfensberger wrote in his April 2008 column, printed in Roll Call. . . .



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