A video that was quickly going viral Monday revealed that Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed parliamentary rules just before the start of the partial government shutdown.
Before the rule change, any House member would have been allowed to bring a Senate version of the spending bill up for a vote on the House floor. But now, only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee can do that.
The rule change was no big secret. A debate on it was shown live on C-SPAN Sept. 30, less than two hours before the shutdown began. Watch
When questioned about the rule change that night, House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said it was an effort to bring forth negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate in a conference. If the House and Senate pass different versions of the same bill, a conference is called in order to resolve disagreements.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., told Sessions she thought the rule change was “shortsighted” and questioned whether it should be used.
There wasn’t a lot of buzz about the rule change in the two weeks since it was made. But attention was suddenly paid Monday after Rep. Chris van Hollen, D-Maryland, brought it up on the House floor this past weekend.
The video of the exchange between van Hollen and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who was serving as Speaker Pro Tem, has been viewed more than 800,000 times on YouTube since being posted Saturday. Watch
The rule that was changed is Rule XXII, Clause 4. You can find it in this document on Page 576. The rule change is House Resolution 368, which you can read here. The section regarding the majority leader is at the very end.
Rep. van Hollen reportedly claimed Monday that Democrats never had such a rule change the last time they were in the majority, but added he was looking into whether his party used it at any earlier time.
CNN posted this Republican House Rules Committee memo claiming examples of strict rule changes Democrats made when they were last in power.