Home » Nooze » Losing? Change the Rules!

Losing? Change the Rules!

What would it take to end the shutdown or, more importantly, raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid default?  As polling shows that this tactic (not strategy!) has proven to be a terrible disaster for the Republican Party it would seem reasonable that there are enough votes in the House to pass a “Clean CR” or bill to fund the federal government and reopen everything.  CNN has polled the membership and found that indeed if the Senate bill was introduced on the floor of the US House it would pass rather easily with bipartisan support.

So why doesn’t a vote come up?  House rules normally allow any Representative  to bring a bill from the Senate with differences from the House directly onto the floor for a vote.  But in a highly unusual parliamentary maneuver the House simply changed the rules to take that out of the hands of any member and put it exclusively in the hands of Eric Cantor (R-VA).  And so it stands that he is the only person in the US right now that can end this standoff.

It's hard enough normally, even if you know the song

It’s hard enough normally, even if you know the song

Under normal operation having two houses of Congress can be tricky enough.  It’s pretty common for a bill to pass the House and then go on to the Senate only to be amended – and thus be different from the House bill.  Both bodies have to pass the same bill in order for it to move on to the President, so there is a little bit of a safety valve built into the House rules.  Rule XXII Clause 4 allows any member of the House to put the bill without amendments onto the floor for a vote.  This little tidbit is there to clear away amendments the Senate stripped out and let members vote on a clean bill, moving things along.

But late at night on September 30th, into the early hours of the government shutdown, the House Rules Committee put forward onto the floor a Resolution, or little matter pertaining only to the operation of the House.  House Resolution 368 contains within it the following language:

Any motion pursuant to clause 4 of rule XXII relating to House Joint Resolution 59 may be offered only by the Majority Leader or his designee.

That gives Eric Cantor exclusive control over the current bill to fund the government – and when it can be put onto the floor of the House.  Late at night the House made sure that they changed the rules.  Rep. Chris van Hollen (D-MD) explained it well by asking a “Parliamentary Procedure” question:

And so, unlike any other bill that doesn’t quite match between the two houses, government funding cannot be brought onto the floor by anyone other than Cantor.  It’s entirely up to him as to when the bill would even be considered.  This holds despite the fact that CNN has found more than 19 Republicans who have stated publicly that they would vote for the Senate Bill and thus re-open the government – and combined with all 200 Democrats means that such a bill would indeed pass.

But it’s not allowed to come up, at least not by any normal means.

This comes as polling shows that the shutdown has been a terrible disaster for the Republican Party, polling a net favorable rating lower than anyone has ever seen for a political party.  And we haven’t even started to consider the debt ceiling and possible default. The leadership apparently knew this might happen but made sure that a revolt by moderates was not possible, keeping power in their own hands.

Only Eric Cantor  has the power to put funding to a vote that it would surely pass.

Only Eric Cantor has the power to put funding to a vote that it would surely pass.

How long will the shutdown continue?  It’s impossible to say given that it’s up to one person to put an end to it.  To make a prediction, we’d have to read Rep. Cantor’s mind and know just how much he’s willing to let this play out.  As one of the architects of this strategy and a man not known for compromise and negotiation, we can probably assume that there isn’t going to be a vote on this bill for a while.

Meanwhile, the normal function of the Federal Government rests entirely in the hands of one man whom many people have probably never heard of.  The US House has rules to prevent things from getting too bottled up, but they were changed to keep this bill from advancing.

How bad can this situation get?  There’s a good chance we haven’t seen anything yet.  It may go on for a while longer before a majority of the House is allowed to weigh in and put a stop to it.

Our government is not only dysfunctional, it’s dysfunctional entirely by design, with the shutdown carefully planned for months.  And this is still all about the Republican Party desperately falling into something like a murder-suicide action – with the gun pointed straight at the entire nation.

16 thoughts on “Losing? Change the Rules!

  1. Unbelievable! They didn’t even trust this power to speaker Boehner! Just when it seems like the shutdown can’t get any worse they find a way. How did this get past the press in the first place? Why did I first read about it here?

    • That is correct, they kept the power with Cantor. This is a bit of a coup for the Tea Party by any measure. And why didn’t this story get out? I don’t know, but I’m also curious how they got this through the House in the first place.

  2. Suggesting that Republican action is like a murder suicide is repugnant.

    Barataria has hit an all-time low. You are a fraud, Mr. Hare. I thought Barataria was interested in civility.

    • I can’t think of anything else to call it. A default would be a terrible disaster and to even threaten it is utterly irresponsible. If you don’t like calling this for what it is then please go away.

      • You hit the nail right on the head, Erik. Look at their polling go right down to the dumps. Do they think they are heroes? How delusional.

    • No, I think this is a revolt against big business and Wall Street, too. They can’t be happy with the threat of default and this action only shows how hard the position is. We have only a few days before this gets very bad, and that is not good for anyone with a lot of money.

  3. I’ll get personal before I go away, if you keep at it.

    Republicans are just people with different ideas than you. The impasse is just about different goals about policy and budget and tactics that you don’t like.

    Your tactic of likening Republicans to murderers is despicable. You can go away. You write Barataria just to prove that you are political and to wield power. You try to be holier than thou and write about Trayvon Martin, yet you can’t even articulate what it is to be white.

    To be white is to have an expensive house and then falsely rail about socialized risk. You benefited from socialized risk, Mr. Hare. You didn’t refuse it!

    Everyone knows you are an insider in local politics. But I won’t believe your spin when it comes through treating Republicans with disrespect, calling us names.

  4. The idea that we know for certain that a clean CR would pass the House is ludicrous. If a recent count shows that it is close, we don’t know that a few Republicans would not defect.

    To vote on budget bill that would have so few Republican votes is silly. The Republicans have the majority and they want a bill that could garner a majority of Republican votes. Speaker Boehner doesn’t strategize for the 200 Democrats. That’s not how it works.

  5. On Fox News Sunday this morning, George Will had this to say

    WILL: It’s not that simple. The fact is we have a very polarizing president. I’m not criticizing him for this — he’s a progressive, he exists to enlarge the power of government as an engine of the redistribution of wealth and opportunity, that’s his agenda. He’s not interested in a grand bargain, he’s not interested in compromising, he doesn’t think he needs to. For all the talk about the Republican Party’s dysfunction, would someone tell me what the president’s second term agenda is? We’re in nine months. What is it immigration? It’s not going to happen. Gun control? What is this man’s agenda for the remaining three and a half years of his term

    • I will admit that the President does not have an agenda together and that this is a serious problem. However – the House had many opportunities to pass an actual budget and they did not – and here we are in crisis mode. And one man determines what happens? That’s ludicrous.

  6. You know they say, take out Hugo or take out Castro. They said take out Sadam Hussein. Why not take out Cantor. What a little Nazi!!! It’s like Hitler all over again. Just look out for any Kaiser Wilhelm you can find.

    • I would be much happier if people didn’t talk about “taking out” people on my blog. Thanks.
      I realize that I upped the ante a bit by saying that they have a gun pointed at us, and I do mean that. But pointing a gun at a particular person seems like a step further.

  7. Pingback: Losing? Change the Rules! | edthlion

  8. Pingback: Appalling Behavior | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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