WARNING! House Rules Committee Rules the Day

Renee Parsons

Listening to the full day of House ‘debate” on the controversial $95 billion national security supplemental is a reminder of how effortless it is for politicians to betray the American people most of whom are provided with no real understanding of the backstory and who see no real accountability. 

That tradition of duplicity and sham continued last week within the House Rules Committee even before the legislative package was sent to the House floor.   As a weakened Republican Speaker Mike Johnson sided with angry Democrats in supporting the proposed supplemental package,  as he fractured his credibility with the party’s more conservative America First faction creating the potential of a Shadow Democratic Speaker.  

The Supplemental  included a predictable increase in military industry spending with  $61 Billion for the war in  Ukraine also known as HR 8035, $ 26 billion for Israel’s attack on Gaza and presumably Iran (HR 8034), with $8.1 Billion for  Indo-Pacific Taiwan (HR 8036) and another $8 Billion for worldwide humanitarian aide as well as a vote to ‘seize’ the Russian’s $300 billion in US securities obtained via sanctions in 2022 (HR 8038) – all proposed with not one penny allocated for closing the southern border as if national security does not include the US border. 

The historic Rules Committee was formalized in 1789 and is Constitutionally defined by Article I, section 5, clause 2 “each House may determine the Rules of its  proceedings.” Traditionally referred to as the ‘Speaker’s Committee’ in order to maintain legislative order and control on the House floor, the Committee is configured on a 2 to 1 majority ratio; currently with four Democrats and nine Republicans.   The Committee is responsible for consideration of every legislative bill reported out of House Committees as it defines the ‘rule’ under which that legislation may/may not proceed to the full House for debate and possible adoption.   

The dye was cast before the Rules Committee when it met to decide on the rule for HR 8034 et al with House Appropriations Chair Tom Cole, ranking minority Appropriations Committee member Rep. Rose DeLauro, Rep. Gregory Meeks ranking minority on Foreign Affairs Committee and Foreign Affairs Chair Rep. Mike McCall in attendance. 

The obvious point of their participation was to influence the Rule in favor of the four items that constituted HR 8034 et al in order to control the final outcome which would enable  successful final passage.   Each made a strong if not impassioned opening statement in support of the various parts of the highly contentious package although never mentioned the ad infinitum increase to the $35 Trillion debt.   

All offered mindless trite slogans stuck in revisionist history that would become notorious lies and loathsome mottos to be repeated ad nauseum when the House floor debate opened.  Some of the more memorable hyperbole included “Ukraine Border is Our Border  Peace Through Strength  Russia must pay for its Crimes  Ukraine is on the Brink of a Humanitarian Catastrophe  We are at a Historic Moment  Europe is Facing its Largest War on the Continent  NATO Strengthened with addition of Sweden and  Finland  Ukraine Cannot be Allowed to Lose  Future of Democracy is at stake” “We Cannot Abandon our Allies” and of course “Churchill or Chamberlain” with insinuations that Putin will expand the war throughout Europe.   

Even as Republicans hold the majority on Rules, it was three Members of the Committee who dared question the Supplemental, offered any alternatives or expressed any opposition were Reps. Ralph Herman (SC), Rep Chip Roy (Texas) and Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) – all of whom persisted in raising well-founded objections which were totally dismissed and disregarded.

What became known as the Rules Committee’s ‘historic moment’ came later that afternoon when the Rules Committee reconvened to approve the final Rule which enabled House Floor consideration of the entire four bills within the Supplemental package.  With thirteen Committee Members present, nine Republicans and four Democrats, Rep Massie sought to offer three different amendments and was denied each time when Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa) requested that each be ‘reduced to writing’ thereby blocking Massie’s amendments.  

Finally, Massie offered a motion to prohibit the transfer of funding for cluster munitions.  Massie requested a roll call vote which failed on a 10-2 vote with one absentee as Massie and Roy voted Aye.   Next came a roll call vote that would take the Supplemental package to the House floor which passed on a 10 -3 vote with Massie, Roy and Norman voting No.  

Obviously, if Rules Committee Republicans had voted as a unit instead of allowing themselves to be divided or undermined by the Democrats, the Supplemental would not have made it to the House floor nor would those bogus destructive items been funded.  Instead, the final passage vote on the individual Supplemental items confirm the need for a major, massive insurgency within Republican ranks.      

https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2024/roll151.xml   HR 8035  Ukraine   311 – 112

https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2024/roll146.xml  HR 8036  Indo Pacific Taiwan   385 – 34

https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2024/roll145.xml  HR 8038 Russian securities   360 – 58

https://clerk.house.gov/evs/2024/roll152.xml  HR 8034  Israel  366 – 58 

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