Doubt no more.
[Below] Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) confirming with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that the Republicans changed the House rule 22 clause 4 on Oct 1, 2013 in order to ensure the federal government would be shut down:
DEMOCRACY’S BEEN SUSPENDED! [video]
Van Hollen: H. Res. 368 changed the standing rules of the House to take away from any member of the House the privilege of calling up the Senate bill to immediately reopen the government, is that right?
Chaffetz: It did change the operation of the standing rule.
Remember this bit of GOP gamesmanship when you think about Cruz and Palin at their tea party rally on Sunday—using veterans as cover, pseudo-raging about closed memorials. Cruz and Palin were there to represent one thing only: the tea party and everything it stands for. Their only purpose was to try to deflect blame for the shutdown to the President and Democrats in Congress, to call for Obama’s impeachment, and to celebrate the usual racist tripe that we’ve all come to expect from the ridiculous individuals who comprise this group of losers.
Here’s the rule in question:
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.
In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That’s how House Democrats read it.
But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”
So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.
“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.
“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”
Republican staff on the House Rules Committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But here’s what House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) told Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) when she raised those concerns before the rule change was approved.
“What we’re attempting to do is to actually get our people together rather than trying to make a decision,” Sessions said. “We’re trying to actually have a conference and the gentlewoman knows that there are rules related to privileged motions that could take place almost effective immediately, and we’re trying to go to conference.”
“You know that there could be a privileged motion at any time…,” Sessions continued as Slaughter continued to press the issue.
“To call for the vote on the Senate resolution,” Slaughter interjected. “I think you’ve taken that away.”
“I said you were correct. We took it away,” Sessions said, “and the reason why is because we want to go to conference.”