Cantor goes after Democrats on House floor for “malfeasant” voting procedure

Jon Ward Contributor

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s press operation began e-mailing reporters around 4:30, indicating they might want to go watch the House floor.

As the House chamber filled up with lawmakers, Democratic floor operatives, including Caitlin O’Neill, the floor manager for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and grand daughter of former Speaker Tip O’Neill, began to notice Cantor was lining up papers and preparing to cause some kind of mischief across the chamber.

Cantor, Virginia Republican, waited for the chamber to come to order and for all the members to stop talking, and then read a long resolution (text below) accusing Democrats of being “malfeasant” in their plans to use an arcane procedural tactic, known as the “Slaughter solution,” to pass the health care bill without directly voting on it.

Cantor, reading a long list of quotes from Democratic lawmakers, stopped four separate times to ask the chair for order in the House, requiring that all members sit quietly and listen to him speak.

He blasted the Democratic leadership, saying they have “willfully abused [their] power to chart a legislative course for the Senate health care bill that is deliberately calculated to obfuscate what the House will vote on, in an illegitimate effort to confuse the public and thereby fraudulently insulate certain representatives from accountability for their conduct of their offices.”

After Cantor read the long resolution, the House clerk read the entire thing, again as the chamber sat mostly quiet.

Once that was done, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, rose from his chair and asked that the chair table the resolution. The chair asked for a voice vote, and the Democrats loudly yelled in favor of the motion. The Republicans yelled, also en masse and even louder, against the dismissal of the resolution.

Republicans had hoped to draw Hoyer into a debate on the floor with their provocative language, and bring further attention to the “Slaughter solution.” But Hoyer didn’t rise to the bait.

Here is the text of the Cantor resolution:

Resolution:

Raising a question of the privileges of the House.

Whereas at least three members of the House Democratic Leadership have endorsed a procedural tactic for the sole purpose of avoiding an up-or-down vote, by the yeas and nays, on the Senate-passed health care bill;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 Representative James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, stated, “We will deem passed the Senate bill…”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, The Washington Post reported, “After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate’s health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it. Instead, Pelosi (D–Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand…”;

Whereas in the same Washington Post article, the Speaker declared, “…I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, McClatchy Newspapers reported Representative John Larson, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, stated, “Many of our members would prefer not to have voted for the Senate bill.”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 9, U.S. News and World Report reported, “Pelosi gaffed, telling the local elected officials assembled ‘that Congress [has] to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.’”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, The Washington Post editorialized, “…what is intended as a final sprint threatens to turn into something unseemly and, more important, contrary to Democrats’ promises of transparency and time for deliberation. …[I]t strikes us as a dodgy way to reform the health-care system. Democrats who vote for the package will be tagged with supporting the Senate bill in any event.”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, the Cincinnati Enquirer editorialized, “This disgusting process, which Democrats brazenly wish to bring to conclusion this week, is being done with little regard for the opinions of a clear majority of Americans who, while they may believe health care reform is necessary, think this particular approach will take our nation down the wrong economic path.”;
Whereas bipartisan members of the House and Senate have expressed their opposition to using the Slaughter Solution;

Whereas on Wednesday, March 10, Representative Joe Donnelly released the following statement, “The process over the past few months has been frustrating, including the cutting of unacceptable special deals to assure a few senators’ votes.”;

Whereas Representative Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania has characterized the exploitation of the Slaughter Solution by Democratic Leadership as “wrong” and unpopular among his constituents;

Whereas on Friday, March 12, POLITICO reported on a memo sent from Representative Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to freshman and sophomore House Democrats that stated, “At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off… Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL.”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, Roll Call reported, “Hoyer argued that the American public isn’t interested in the process lawmakers use for approving reforms…”;

Whereas on Tuesday, March 16, Representative James Clyburn told Fox News, “Controversy doesn’t bother me at all.”;

Whereas the Democratic leadership of the House has conducted a calculated and coordinated attempt to willfully deceive the American people by embracing the “Slaughter Solution”;

Whereas resorting to the “Slaughter Solution” in this circumstance, is being done to intentionally hide from the American people a future vote that Members of Congress may take on the Senate-passed health care legislation;

Whereas the deceptive behavior demonstrated by the Democratic Leadership has brought discredit upon the House of Representatives; and

Whereas the Democratic leadership has willfully abused its power to chart a legislative course for the Senate health care bill that is deliberately calculated to obfuscate what the House will vote on, in an illegitimate effort to confuse the public and thereby fraudulently insulate certain Representatives from accountability for their conduct of their offices: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House disapproves of the malfeasant manner in which the Democratic Leadership has thereby discharged the duties of their offices.