I'm generally impressed by incoming Majority House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's reported plans for House scheduling for 2011. It's been a longtime suggestion of many that Congress work longer, but fuller, weeks, and Cantor is planning exactly that. It's also smart to plan in advance for the session to end in December, instead of setting a phony early target for adjourning only to have it slip several times. Now, I expect some slippage, and particularly in claims about open rules and full debate. But for the most part, I don't blame House majorities for using procedural advantages to achieve majority party rule, and it's nice that at least coming in, Cantor is willing to make gestures in the direction of procedural fairness. While the main people affected by scheduling policies are Members, staff, and others who work on or around Capitol Hill and their families, it's still good to see positive, appropriate change.
In particular, it's nice to see that unlike in 1995, Republicans appear at least in this instance to be putting an emphasis on making the House work well rather than indulging petty grudges or scoring ephemeral debate points. Now, that's not true on everything; for example, the business of citing specific Constitutional authorization for bills is just silly, if they decide to follow through with it, although it's also harmless. It also remains to be seen what they'll do on ethics -- and, more importantly, whether they'll need the ethics process as much as they did the last time the GOP ran the House. (And I haven't seen whether they're going to change the committee names again, which I really hope they don't, for the selfish reason that I'm terrible at remembering the changes). But Cantor deserves credit for a solid step in the direction of helping the House function better.