Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Collin Peterson Enabled Republicans To Shut Down The Government

On Sept. 30, 2013, on the eve of the shutdown of the federal government, the House Rules Committee voted for a rules change to prevent House Democrats from calling for a motion to vote on the Senate's clean continuing resolution. The rules bill, as passed by the full House on October 1st as H.R. 368, forbid anyone except “the Majority Leader or his designee” from bringing a clean continuing resolution to the floor for vote.

Seven Democrats crossed party lines to vote for that resolution which gave Eric Cantor, and only Eric Cantor, the ability to bring forth a vote on a clear CR to get the government working again.

The Republican's motivation for the rule change was that with no clear CR vote possible, House Republicans could then "insist" on their latest spending bill, including the anti-Obamacare provision, and request a conference with the Senate to resolve the two chambers' differences (House Republicans had for months refused to confer with the Senate). And unless those anti-Obamacare provisions were included in the final bill, Republicans, as they had threatened for months, would shut down the government.

Under normal House rules, according to House Democrats, once the House bill with its amendments had been rejected again by the Senate, then any member of the House could have made a motion to vote on the Senate's clean continuing resolution bill. Such a motion would have been what is called "privileged" and therefore entitled to an immediate 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 or ending a shutdown.

Here's the rule in question, House Rule 22, clause 4 (page 910 of Rules of the House of Representatives):
"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."
The House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule. Collin Peterson (MN-7) was one of the members on the House Rules Committee who voted yes.

Not only was that a vote to retain House amendments to the CR bill, but language was included dictating that the privileged motion formerly available to any House member under House Rule 22, when made in relation to H.J. 59 (the continuing resolution bill), "may be offered only by the Majority Leader or his designee." So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the clean Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn't going to happen. And it didn't.

On Oct. 1st, 2013, at 1:10 a.m., the full House of Representatives voted to implement H.R. 368. Collin Peterson was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote yes. With that vote, Collin Peterson not only was agreeing to the one year delay in implementing certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, he was also voting to prevent a clean continuing resolution bill from even being voted on by the House without the approval of Eric Cantor. He was voting with Republicans for a government shutdown.

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