A video published by Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, has revealed that House Republicans made a small last-minute change to House rules -- a change blocking a potential option that could have been taken to avoid the federal government shutdown in its entirety.
The video shows Van Hollen purposefully attempting to invoke clause 4 of rule XXII of the House of Representatives, which states:
“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.”
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, was quick to point out that H.R. 368 states that the rule brought up by Van Hollen can only be offered by the House majority leader or his designee:
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“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.”
Previously, clause 4 of rule XXII could be brought up by any member of the House of Representatives to push a bill forward despite disagreements.
Not only did this H.R. 368 change the ability to use clause 4 of rule XXII, but it specifically applied it to House Joint Resolution 59, the appropriations bill that the House of Representatives and Senate are currently in a fight over.
By changing the rules on Sept. 30, House Republicans essentially guaranteed a government shutdown, since the ability to invoke the mentioned rule was transferred entirely to House Majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
Talking Points Memo previously reported about this particular rule change back on Oct. 10, but little attention was paid to the story until the weekend of Oct. 12, when Van Hollen’s video was published and posted on social media sites such as Reddit.
Back in Sept. 30, the author of H.R. 368 and House Rules Committee chairman, Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, was questioned by House Rules Committee ranking member, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., about the rule change.
“We want a conference,” Sessions said as part of his explanation of why H.R. 368 was passed to change the rules.
Slaughter criticized Sessions for the rule change: “I think it’s really shortsighted. I think it is an atrocity to the rules of the House and I think you’re putting the whole country through this angst and this aggravation that we did not need to go. This one we could have done without.”
In the video published by Van Hollen on Oct. 12, Chaffetz attempts to suspend Van Hollen’s parliamentary inquiry, to which Van Hollen simply responds, “Democracy has been suspended.”
Watch the full video above and let us know what you think in the comments.