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Change in lesser known House rule a big hit on YouTube

Oct. 14, 2013 at 4:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A video of a charged exchange between Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., with the person in the House speaker's chair on a change in House rules has gone viral.

The video, which has received more than 702,000 views since it was posted Saturday, shows Van Hollen engaging in a parliamentary inquiry with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who was in the speaker's chair at the time, The Washington Post reported Monday. The two men were discussing why Democrats could not bring up a Senate amendment that would provide funding to return the government to normal operations.

House Republicans have been adamant about not passing a so-called "clean" bill that would temporarily reopen the federal government.

Under the House's standing rules, an individual lawmaker could force a vote on a bill when there's a dispute between the House and Senate, but House Republicans passed a joint resolution altering the rules to make that impossible by granting the ability to force a vote only to the House speaker or his designee.

"The Rules Committee under the rules of the House changed the standing rules of the House to take away the right of any member to move to vote to open the government and gave that right exclusively to the Republican leader, is that right?" asked Van Hollen, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, showing charts of both the standing rule and the resolution that "altered" it.

"The House adopted that resolution," Chaffetz said.

When he tried under the original standing rules to renew his motion to consider the Senate bill on the debt limit, Van Hollen was denied by Chaffetz, who cited the resolution.

"Why were the rules rigged to keep the government shut down?" Van Hollen asked.

Chaffetz tried to move on to other business, but not before Van Hollen said, "Democracy has been suspended."

When was that alteration made?

Oct. 1, the day the government went into a partial shutdown. The joint resolution passed 228-199.

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