Republican Protest Slows House Floor Action

Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:08pm

House Republicans protested Democratic rules limiting amendments to appropriations bills by forcing hour after hour of votes Thursday.

Republicans refused to agree to two-minute votes to accelerate action on the Commerce-Justice-science appropriations bill. And they could force numerous additional votes later Thursday by requiring re-votes on each amendment.

GOP lawmakers are furious that Democrats shut down debate on the bill after just 22 minutes Tuesday night and then adopted restrictive new rules limiting amendments.

House Democrats said they were acting to prevent Republicans from filibustering bills with numerous amendments and thwarting their plans to finish all 12 spending bills before the August recess.

Democrats argued that the adopted rule still gave Republicans ample opportunities to try to cut spending and earmarks, with two dozen Republican amendments made in order.

House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said Democratic leaders haven’t decided whether to close the rules on future appropriation bills yet.

“We’re going to take them one at a time,— she said.

In the meantime, the GOP protest was disrupting other House business, forcing the cancellation of a Budget Committee hearing on pay-as-you-go rules and the cancellation or postponement of various press conferences, including one Republican leaders planned to protest the situation in Iran.