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Despite holding a minority position, House Republicans managed on Tuesday to temporarily derail two of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bills.
Passing a bill usually requires going through a tedious process that eventually ends with a floor vote based on the Hastert Rule, which states that 218 House members must vote “yea” for a piece of legislation to make it through the legislative body.
Pelosi tried to sidestep this lengthy process by using a procedure known as “suspension of the rules” to quickly pass two bills with just a two-thirds vote.
The problem is that her two-thirds vote meant that two-thirds of the House had to agree, meaning Democrats had to convince enough Republicans to vote with them. But thanks to the efforts of the House Freedom Caucus, they failed to muster up the votes.
Both the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, which would have used taxpayer funds to provide access to abortion, and the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, which would have reportedly allowed gay-owned business to receive preferential lending, failed with 240-188 and 248-177 votes, respectively.
House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona was pleased, though stunned.
“That’s stunning. … The significance of taking down the suspension votes is that the Democrats are trying to change all the rules and traditions of the House and force all of their agenda even if it’s not radical — but the radical parts and the non-radical parts — they’re trying to force it down our throats,” he said in a post-vote interview with Breitbart News.
“Our position has always been that that is — it is that we have to fight on every issue. That’s why we ask for roll call votes on the suspension votes because we want transparency for the American public number one, and number two we want everybody to be recorded on how you vote, and number three we want to put the speed stick down. That’s what that’s been all about,” he added.
U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, one of two Freedom Caucus members who’d reportedly worked behind the scenes to derail the bills, suggested this proves they’re finally doing their jobs.
“The failure of these bills shows that the Freedom Caucus strategy to fight the Democratic majority using all the procedure at their disposal is working. Combined with members willing to fight for principle, it worked to knock down two Democratic bills last night,” he said to Breitbart News.
“One of the bills, which would have facilitated access to abortion drugs, I have been fighting since there were bipartisan efforts to move it through the VA committee. It was good to see the efforts of so many come together and hand the Left a defeat even in the minority,” he continued.
A defeat felt by even President Joe Biden.
Today, bipartisan bills from @RepRitchie & @RepBrownley were considered under suspension of the Rules. I’m disappointed @HouseGOP reversed their support at the last minute, causing both to fail. I’ll bring them back to the Floor under a rule next week. https://t.co/0uDTa9BAYH
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) June 16, 2021
Biggs added that Wednesday’s votes marked the first time House Republicans had successfully thwarted the Democrats using this strategy, despite previous attempts. Prior efforts failed, leading Democrats to believe Republicans weren’t “unified enough to take them down and block them,” according to Biggs.
“So far, they’ve been right,” he added.
But not anymore.
This doesn’t mean the bills are done with. They could conceivably still make it through the House via the application of the Hastert Rule. However, Biggs is hopeful that the painstaking, time-consuming hurdles required to pass these bills by the rule will make Democrats more likely to compromise.
“If you don’t fast track it, you slow it down. … It gives you leverage points so the Democrats come back to us and say ‘alright, let’s make a deal.’ Maybe, if rationality were to win out, maybe they would come back and say ‘how do we make this thing work?'” he said.
Plus, he added, THIS is what Republican voters have been demanding from congressional Republicans from day one, regardless of whether it succeeds in convincing Democrats to negotiate fairly.
“Some of our own colleagues were ticked at us for doing it and said it was gimmicky. I kept trying to sell it like, so they would understand, that we get leverage points back and we slow it down and we’re fighting,” Biggs said.
“It’s what our base wants us to do. All of those things are important. That it worked is good. Now we need to make it work on a regular basis and if we do that things are going to change up,” he continued.
The “colleagues” he mentioned believe that fighting back is pointless because Democrats hold a majority in the House. While it’s true that fighting back could engender no meaningful results (if, for instance, these two bills wind up still making it through the House via the Hastert Rule), it’s the effort that appears to count.
Thank you, God Bless.
— Casey Mathews 🇺🇸 (@mathews1015) June 16, 2021
Thank you and press on.
— Heartland (@AmericanHeart5) June 16, 2021
Especially when that effort breeds disappointment in the Democrat Party.
“I am deeply disappointed that Republicans withdrew their support at the last minute, causing both bills to fail. Next week, I will bring both of these bills to the Floor under a rule so that they can pass with a simple majority,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement Tuesday.
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