[I]nstead of allowing Republicans to fully participate in deliberations, as promised after the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, Democrats now say they will use House rules to prevent the opposition from offering alternative measures, assuring speedy passage of the bills and allowing their party to trumpet early victories.
Nancy Pelosi, the Californian who will become House speaker, and Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who will become majority leader, finalized the strategy over the holiday recess in a flurry of conference calls and meetings with other party leaders. A few Democrats, worried that the party would be criticized for reneging on an important pledge, argued unsuccessfully that they should grant the Republicans greater latitude when the Congress convenes on Thursday.
During their dozen years in the majority, House Republicans played tough with the rules, but they were building on practices that the Democrats had pioneered. In the 98th Congress (1983-1985), open rules accounted for 68 percent of all floor rules. By the 103d Congress (1993-1995), the Democrats' last turn in control, open rules had fallen to just 30 percent. And in those years, Democrats had much larger majorities than they won in 2006. With fewer votes to spare, they will probably not grant the GOP much latitude in the upcoming Congress.