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House Republicans Rigged Rules To Continue Shutdown

October 15, 2013

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This story is picking up steam and moving from ‘in the weeds’ to out front so everyone can start talking about it.

As my readers know when it comes to the process of government I can be rather particular.  Bitchy might be the other word.  There is a need for a clear and transparent process to government for it to function with credibility.

So it caught my attention when over the past couple days a story about how the GOP made a rule change about how the federal government shutdown could end, (or be lengthened) started percolating.   At first I thought it was not accurate and just another in a series of attempts to sway partisans without the facts.  But as I read more and came to better understand the matter it is clear that the process of government has really been turned upside down.

And steering the topsy-turvy ride are Republicans.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has been fuming in recent days about Republicans quietly changing the House rules to prevent a clean funding bill from getting a vote, guaranteeing the government would remain shut down.

But two weeks ago, in the middle of a largely unnoticed House Rules Committee hearing, it was Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) reacting in disbelief to what Republicans had done.

House rules typically allow any member, Republican or Democrat, to call up a Senate-passed bill for a vote. But on Sept. 30 — the eve of the government shutdown — Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed the rule so only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could call up a Senate-passed clean funding bill — a bill that has the votes to pass the House and would end the shutdown, if it were given a vote. The move to prevent lawmakers from bringing up the bill came as part of Republican leaders’ strategy to try to extract concessions from Democrats in exchange for reopening the government.

A video clip from that hearing, which surfaced Monday, shows Slaughter, the ranking Democrat on the committee, trying to comprehend why Republicans would make such a significant change to House rules.

“It was just pointed out to me that under regular order of the House, any member can call for a vote on the Senate proposal,” Slaughter says to Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). “But you have changed that regular order under this resolution so that only the majority leader can do it. Can you tell us why you did that?”
“In fact, that is correct,” Sessions said. “What we are attempting to do is to actually get our people together. Rather than trying to make a decision, we are trying to actually have a conference. … So we think this is the quickest way to get that done.”

They went back and forth several times, with Slaughter asking why Republicans would alter House rules and Sessions confirming only that the rules had been changed. They both established that, under normal circumstances, any lawmaker would have the right to make a “privileged motion” to call up the Senate-passed bill, at any time.

“I think you have taken that away,” Slaughter said.

 “That is what I am saying,” Sessions said. “We took that away.”

 “Then how can we do it at any time?” she asked. Sessions replied, “I said you were correct we took it away. And the reason why is because we want to go to conference.”

 “Oh, mercy,” Slaughter said. “I think it is an atrocity to the rules of the House.”

3 Comments
  1. October 17, 2013 8:11 AM

    Seriously? All of this mess happened, thousands of people out of work, just so that House Republicans can hold a conference? I may change my vote.

  2. October 16, 2013 12:35 PM

    Many Republicans say that changing the rules of the Senate would be a “nuclear option”. How is this any different?

  3. Margy Rydzynski permalink
    October 15, 2013 6:57 PM

    Reblogged this on Collectables and commented:
    it just goes from bad to worse.

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