THU OCT 10, 2013 AT 09:44 AM PDThttp://www.topix.com/forum/city/blairsville-g...
By Thomas Sewell
When it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.
How House Republicans guaranteed a shutdown: by changing the rules
Here's proof positive that Republicans own this shutdown. How badly did House Republican leadership wanted to shut down the government? Here's how much. They used an unprecedented parliamentary procedure to block any chance that the clean continuing resolution sent to them by the Senate would reach the floor. They did so by changing standing House rules.
Under normal procedure, here's how it would have worked the day it all fell down, September 30. The Senate sent over their clean CR. The House amended it with their anti-Obamacare stuff. The Senate rejected that change, and sent their resolution back. At that point, under normal procedure, any member would have been able to make a motion to bring the Senate bill to the floor. The rule that says they can do it is this:
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.
That means the chambers are deadlocked and any member trying to break the deadlock would be able to do sowould have privilege to do so. Except that in this case, for this continuing resolution only, Republicans changed the rule. They did it on the night of September 30, the eve of the shutdown, in a Rules Committee meeting. The rule change said that any motion to take up the Senate bill "may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee." Meaning only Eric Cantor or with his approval. Which wasn't going to happen.
"I've never seen this rule used. I'm not even sure they were certain we would have found it," a House Democratic aide told TPM. "This was an overabundance of caution on their part.'We've got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.'"
Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.
"I've never heard of anything like that before," Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.
There was no way John Boehner and Eric Cantor were going to allow a clean funding bill to reach the floor the night before the shutdown. Because they knew that there were plenty of Republicans who would vote for it and it would pass.
House Democrats knew this was happening from the beginning, but unlike the Senate, the minority party in the House has very little power to do anything about abuses like this. They've been doing what they can do, trying to pass a motion to recommit every mini-funding bill the leadership brings up, to replace them with the Senate's clean resolution. But the procedure is arcane and complex and it's easy for the so-called moderate Republicans to pretend like those efforts don't exist, and to not do what they say they wantreopen government with a clean spending bill.
That makes those "moderate" Republicans as complicit in this as their leadership. The entire Republican Party owns this shutdown, completely.