Update: House Republicans announced Tuesday morning they would bump the floor vote to Thursday.
Washington, DC: The city where Democrats call tax cuts “spending” and Republicans say with a straight face that “three days” can mean 24 hours and one minute.
The House will vote Wednesday on the hotly debated bill to fund the federal government through the fiscal year, approximately 36 hours after Republicans made the language of the bill available online.
Republicans campaigned on posting bills for “72 hours” before voting on them, and a “transparency initiative” website of House Speaker John Boehner still includes the promise in a number of hours format.
In September, Republicans quietly shifted their rhetoric. In the GOP “Pledge to America” unveiled last fall, Republicans promised to post bills for “three days” before voting on them.
Republicans now say the definition of “day” is crucial. Their standard of “calendar days” means they could technically post a bill at 11:59 PM on a Monday night and vote on it first thing Wednesday at 12:01 AM.
“It is a three day rule,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told The Daily Caller. “That’s what was in the Pledge to America. It has always been calendar days.”
To which Democrats responded, you must be kidding.
“It seems that Republicans are playing fast and loose with their own rules, counting Monday through Wednesday rather than 72 actual hours, as promised,” a Democratic leadership aide told The Daily Caller.
Boehner specified many times last year that three days would mean “72 hours,” but changed his tune to just “three days” after Republicans released the “Pledge.”
Wednesday’s vote wouldn’t be the first time House Republicans brought a bill to the floor without giving members three full days to look it over. Shortly before last month’s procedural vote on whether to exclude National Public Radio from federal funding, New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner raised a point of order, citing that the bill did not pass the GOP’s three-day rule. Texas Republican Ted Poe, who was Acting Speaker at the time, overruled his request to delay the vote.
“The period of time on which the rule is predicated is not a number of hours but rather a number of days, specifically calendar days,” Poe said.
However, it is the first bill that fits the parameters for which the promise was intended in the first place: far-reaching legislation on which significant last-minute negotiations were conducted.
This article has been updated.