A You Tube video of a heated exchange between Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D- Md, and the representative of the House speaker has gone viral over the weekend, getting more than 900 thousand hits. It is apparently the first time it was disclosed that the House Rules committee voted to change a rule which virtually guaranteed the government shutdown.
video, shows Van Hollen asking Rep.
Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who was in the speaker's chair at the time why
Democrats could not bring up a Senate amendment that would provide
funding to end the shutdown.
Republicans have refused to pass or discuss a so-called "clean" bill
that would temporarily fund the government.
Under House's standing rules, any lawmaker could force a vote on a bill when there's a dispute between the House and Senate, but House Republicans quietly passed a joint resolution changing those rules to make that impossible. The rule change gave the ability to force a vote only to the House speaker or his designee.
On the first of October, the day the government went into a partial shutdown, The joint resolution passed 228-199.
"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, 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 to renew his motion to consider the Senate bill on the debt limit, Van Hollen was shut down by Chaffetz, who cited the new resolution.
Van Hollen then asked: "Why were the rules rigged to keep the government shut down?"
Chaffetz tried to move on to other business, but not before Van Hollen said, "Democracy has been suspended."