By Greggory Sullivan, PA
Combining proposals can be a great way to help committees get through bills more quickly and efficiently. The purpose of offering delegates the opportunity to combine proposals is to prevent any one committee from debating the similar ideas more than once, as this becomes boring for all involved. However, the current system for combining proposals may be flawed. Delegates work incredibly hard to prepare their proposals for the conference and it can be disheartening to find out that another delegate had the same idea, even more so if that delegate’s proposal is chosen as the base for the combined piece. Therefore, some delegates choose not to combine their proposals. This maintains each delegate’s pride and ability to present their original work for debate, but if too many delegates in a single committee abstain from combining their proposals, committees end up debating a great number of similar topics, leading to boredom, apathy and distraction in the committee rooms.
The Presiding Officers prefer to refrain from encouraging or discouraging the combining of proposals, as it is the right of each and every delegate to make that decision on their own. The Mountain Manual does not require that similar proposals be combined, and similar proposals cannot be dispersed across multiple committees because the topics are required to remain in one committee to maintain consistency.
Delegates have expressed the opinion that more time should be allotted on the first day of the conference for combining proposals, as a majority of the committee orientation time is consumed by instruction and introduction to the program. Because of this, delegates believe that they may have combined too hastily and were left ill-prepared, while others don’t think that they were given enough time to work out a compromise with or to find the other delegates that have similar proposals. Because the proposals are posted prior to the conference, delegates can contact each other before arriving on the mountain via social media, or, once they get here, they can try to find their potential combination authors before First Committee.
Although delegates who decide not to combine out of pride or principle, may be setting their proposal up to fail, First Committee did serve to root out many duplicate proposals resulting in more enthusiastic delegates.