GOP lawmaker: Enough with the 'comprehensive' already

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) argued Thursday that Congress should get out of the habit of passing "comprehensive" bills because they force major changes and usually don't give members enough time to understand the consequences.

"Instead of a measure-twice-and-cut-once policy, the method of operation has been to take action and then figure out what the measurements should have been," he wrote in a post on his website. "We saw this with the Wall Street bailout, the stimulus bills, and most recently with the Budget Control Act that called for sequestration.

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"The rush to get it done, the gangs of six, 12 or 14, the super-committees, the fight for political points, and the attempt to win a deal are poor cornerstones for the legislative process."

Congress has recently been force to revisit some of the big, broad bills that it passed, particularly those dealing with fiscal issues.

As Forbes noted, Congress this year pared back some of the sequester that was agreed as part of the Budget Control Act in 2011. And after rushing through a budget and spending agreement for 2014, Congress earlier this month reversed a $6 billion cut to the growth of military pensions.

The House has also tried repeatedly to mitigate the impact of ObamaCare, which many Republicans point to as the grandfather of all comprehensive bills that needed a closer look. Forbes pointed out that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) admitted that Congress needed to "pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

While the Senate has passed what it calls a comprehensive immigration bill, House GOP leaders have said they would at most consider piecemeal bills, a prescription Forbes would seem to support on principle.

"We do our nation no good when we attempt these broad comprehensive plans at the federal level," he wrote. "Why? Because we bet the farm. Even if reforms are necessary, going all-in when the stakes are high is incredibly risky."

"Congress' all-in habit is hurting the American experiment," he added. "Our nation is built on the principle that a limited government dependent on the consent of the people secures liberty and creates opportunity."

Forbes is not the only Republican to reject calls for "comprehensive" legislation. Earlier this month, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said Democrats are using the word "comprehensive" to build support for granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

"America now understands that comprehensive immigration reform — CIR, for short — really is three words that encompass one word, and that is 'amnesty,' " he said on February 3.