In the wee hours of September 30, the eve of the government shutdown, the GOP-controlled House Rules Committee pushed through a last minute amendment that was intended to go unnoticed. This slight of hand known as HR 368 changed long-standing House rules to prevent any House member other than Majority Leader Eric Cantor from calling for a vote on a Senate-passed bill.
In essence, this amendment usurped power from members of the House and gave it exclusively to the leader of the party that was intent on defunding “Obamacare” or shutting down the entire government. It was a ploy by GOP leadership to make sure that none of their members broke ranks and voted for a “clean” Senate bill to reopen the government.
In other words, they don’t trust the President, the Senate or even their own membership!
After all, it was certain that the Senate would eke out a compromise bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Just as certainly, a few of the more sensible GOP members of the House would bow to pressure from their constituents to vote for it. (It only takes 17 House Republicans to side with House Democrats to pass a bill.) HR 368 would ensure party purity by making it impossible for anyone other than the Majority Leader to bring a funding bill to the floor.
Further, by withholding the amendment until a few hours before the shutdown, the GOP “trickeration” would be more likely to go unnoticed by Democrats and the media in the wake of the government shutdown. And, of course, no Republican will talk about it.
This appears to be the GOP’s standard operating philosophy. If you can’t win by any other means, cheat!
UPDATE: After crafting a new spending bill without Democratic participation, House Republican leaders held a press conference today following a rendition of “Amazing Grace.” In a clueless display of hypocrisy, they repeated the word “fairness” dozens of times. Once they present their one-sided bill, it’s rumored that they plan to leave town before the Senate votes on its own bipartisan bill.