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The House GOP's Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown

Unitedwestand13

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Late on the night of Sept. 30, with the federal government just hours away from shutting down, House Republicans quietly made a small change to the House rules that blocked a potential avenue for ending the shutdown.

It went largely unnoticed at the time. But with the shutdown more than a week old and House Democrats searching for any legislative wiggle room to end it, the move looms large in retrospect in the minds of the minority party.

"What people don't know is that they rigged the rules of the House to keep the government shut down," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told TPM in an interview. "This is a blatant effort to make sure that the Senate bill did not come up for a vote."

Here's what happened.

The House and Senate were at an impasse on the night of Sept. 30. The House's then-most-recent ploy for extracting Obamacare concessions from Senate Democrats and the White House -- by eliminating health insurance subsidies for Congress members and their staffs -- had been rejected by the Senate. The 'clean' Senate spending bill was back in the House's court.

With less than two hours to midnight and shutdown, Speaker John Boehner's latest plan emerged. House Republicans would "insist" on their latest spending bill, including the anti-Obamacare provision, and request a conference with the Senate to resolve the two chambers' differences.

Under normal House rules, according to House Democrats, once that bill had been rejected again by the Senate, then any member of the House could have made a motion to vote on the Senate's bill. Such a motion would have been what is called "privileged" and entitled to a vote of the full House. At that point, Democrats say, they could have joined with moderate Republicans in approving the motion and then in passing the clean Senate bill, averting a shutdown.

But previously, House Republicans had made a small but hugely consequential move to block them from doing it.

Here's the rule in question:

When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.

In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That's how House Democrats read it.

But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion "may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee."

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.

"I've never seen this rule used. I'm not even sure they were certain we would have found it," a House Democratic aide told TPM. "This was an overabundance of caution on their part. 'We've got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.'"

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.
I've never heard of anything like that before," Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

"It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders," Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. "That's not typically how the rules are written."

Republican staff on the House Rules Committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But here's what House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) told Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) when she raised those concerns before the rule change was approved.

"What we're attempting to do is to actually get our people together rather than trying to make a decision," Sessions said. "We're trying to actually have a conference and the gentlewoman knows that there are rules related to privileged motions that could take place almost effective immediately, and we're trying to go to conference."

"You know that there could be a privileged motion at any time...," Sessions continued as Slaughter continued to press the issue.

"To call for the vote on the Senate resolution," Slaughter interjected. "I think you've taken that away."


"I said you were correct. We took it away," Sessions said, "and the reason why is because we want to go to conference."

The House GOP's Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown

i don't think the founding father's envisioned the house creating rules that give power to the leadership.
 

Fenton

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Elections have consequences.
 

Unitedwestand13

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what elction gave the house leadership the ability to create a rule that benifits only the leadership of the party in charge?
 

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yeah but this rule change is unprecedented, because congressional historians have never heard of this rule stating that the house majority leader decides what motions make it to the floor for a vote.

The house and the senate get to make their rules, that's how it works and has always worked. All their rules were unprecedented at one time.
 

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what elction gave the house leadership the ability to create a rule that benifits only the leadership of the party in charge?

It's called the US Constitution, at least the SCOTUS seems to believe it's in there.
 

Unitedwestand13

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The house and the senate get to make their rules, that's how it works and has always worked. All their rules were unprecedented at one time.

i find it odd that the republican leadership took a existing rule:

"When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged."

and decided to add language dictating that any motion "may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee."

why did the house leadership decide to add such launguage to a rule that could have allowed any member to propose a motion to end the gridlock?
 

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i find it odd that the republican leadership took a existing rule:



and decided to add language dictating that any motion "may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee."

why did the house leadership decide to add such launguage to a rule that could have allowed any member to propose a motion to end the gridlock?

Really, you can't see why a minority party (as in they don't have the senate or the presidency) would make such a rule? Really?
 

Unitedwestand13

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It's called the US Constitution, at least the SCOTUS seems to believe it's in there.

that rule change prevented the democrats to motion for a vote on the senates version of the continuing resolution, i find it convenient that republicans altered a rule that meant to give any member of either party to issue a motion of any kind that would have ended the gridlock.
 

Unitedwestand13

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Really, you can't see why a minority party (as in they don't have the senate or the presidency) would make such a rule? Really?

and the democrats are currently the minority party in the house. the republicans created this rule to block the house democrats from motioning to vote on the senate's version of the continuing resolution.
 

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that rule change prevented the democrats to motion for a vote on the senates version of the continuing resolution, i find it convenient that republicans altered a rule that meant to give any member of either party to issue a motion of any kind that would have ended the gridlock.

Yeah, so what? How is this news to you? And why would it be a good idea for the house majority to give up their power to the senate majority?
 

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and the democrats are currently the minority party in the house. the republicans created this rule to block the house democrats from motioning to vote on the senate's version of the continuing resolution.

Yes, that's why I qualified the "minority party" label.
 

Unitedwestand13

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Yeah, so what? How is this news to you? And why would it be a good idea for the house majority to give up their power to the senate majority?

you are justifying the republican majority in the house trampling over the rights of the house minority just because the democrats control the senate?
 

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what elction gave the house
leadership the ability to create a rule that benifits only the leadership of the party in charge?

It's so difficult to take you people seriously.

What election gave Obama and the Democrats the abillity to grant over 2000 waivers and put off the employer mandate for a year without going through the legislative process layed out in the Constitution ?

What election gave Obama and the Democrats the right to target Conservative political action groups through the IRS ?

E-Mails were released recently that directly tie top WH officials to what was essentially the violation of peoples civil rights by top IRS officials.

What election gave Obama the right make unconstitutional recess appointments and ignore the rule of law ?

What election gave Obams the right to impliment key portions of his Cap and Trade Act through executive order via the EPA ? A bill that didn't even have the support of the Senate ?

What election gives Obama the right to ignore Court Orders from Federal Judges that supercede his moratorium on new drilling ?

What election gives Obama the right to ignore Federal immigration laws because he needs to pander to a demagraphic for purely political reasons ?

What election gave Obama the right to implement a "green jobs" iniative that looked like and performed like it was patterned after a 5th grade science project ? How much money did he waste trying to build a manufacturing base for a product no one wanted.

A product that so obviously could have been mqnufactured in China cheaper ?


I could continue but you see how ridiculous your argument is.

The House has offered to fund everything but that disastrous bill passed in the middle of night that had little support among the American people.

The GOP is trying to do him a favor, but he 's to much of a egomaniac to realize it.
 

Kobie

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Even if you buy that the Republicans were well within their rights to pull this stunt, this at least dispels the notion that the GOP doesn't own this shutdown.
 

Fenton

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Even if you buy that the Republicans were
well within their rights to pull this stunt, this at least dispels the notion that the GOP doesn't own this shutdown.

They've offered 4 times to fund the Government.

It would take a blind left wing partisan to not see that.

How about the 26 veterns families that didn't recieve death benefits.

When the Fisher House agreed to pay their benefits Jay Carney said " well if they pay it then why should we " ??

No, Americans aren't blaming scenarios like that, purposeful cold and calculated to cause harm, on the Republicans.
 

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you are justifying the republican majority in the house trampling over the rights of the house minority just because the democrats control the senate?

Have you stopped beating your wife?

I'm justifying nothing and your question is absurd framing in action. The point is the house and the senate make their own rules per the Constitution. The rules are made to suit the majority party at the time. This rule makes perfect sense to protect the house majority from being sabotaged by the senate majority.
 

Kobie

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They've offered 4 times to fund the Government.

Piecemeal, and except of course for the part that they don't like.

GOP shutdown. Own it.
 

Fenton

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Piecemeal, and except of course for the part
that they don't like.

GOP shutdown. Own it.

Over 2000 waivers and the employer mandate put off for a year.

Piecemeal and Unconstitutional.

The Democrats own Obama-Care and the 635 Mlion dollar "Rock" that is the Obama-Care web-site, that doesn't work.
 

AlabamaPaul

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that rule change prevented the democrats to motion for a vote on the senates version of the continuing resolution, i find it convenient that republicans altered a rule that meant to give any member of either party to issue a motion of any kind that would have ended the gridlock.

My guess would be that you had no problem with the way Pelosi ran the House from 2007-2010...
 

Kobie

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Then that's not "funding the government," no matter how much the right wing liars claim it is. If I go out for a meal and pay for my beverage, my side dish and my salad, that's not paying for my meal, is it?
 

AlabamaPaul

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Piecemeal, and except of course for the part that they don't like.

GOP shutdown. Own it.

No, there were 3 or 4 CRs that funded everything with conditions relating to Presidentcare...
 

clownboy

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Then that's not "funding the government," no matter how much the right wing liars claim it is. If I go out for a meal and pay for my beverage, my side dish and my salad, that's not paying for my meal, is it?

Yep, but if your main course is so bad you can't stomach it you don't pay for that part do you?
 
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