Congressman Chris Van Hollen

Representing the 8th District of Maryland

Van Hollen: The Speaker is Not the King

In Late-Night Rule Change, Republicans Suspend Democracy
Jul 31, 2014

Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen went to the House floor to get clarification about a dead-of-night rule change that ensured only one Member – the Majority Leader or his designee – could bring up any version of transportation trust fund bill for a vote. The same tactic was used by House Republicans last October to shut down the government and keep it closed.  The Speaker’s designee repeatedly refused to answer his simple question, and Congressman Van Hollen then spoke about how democracy has once again been suspended in the House of Representatives. Below is a transcript of his remarks, and the full video of the exchange is above.

“Yesterday we were on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker, and our Republican colleagues passed a measure to sue the President of the United States – waste millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to sue the President of the United States – and the claim was the President has exceeded his authority. That’s a specious claim, but what’s incredible is the very next day our Republican colleagues are here suspending democracy in the House, changing the standing rules of the House to take away from any Member of the House the opportunity to offer a motion with respect to the transportation bill, which is what the standing rules of the House provide. And they want to say, no, we’re going to take that right away from a Member and we’re going to give it exclusively to the Republican Leader or the Republican Leader’s designee.

“You know, Mr. Speaker, the last time we saw this happen? On the government shutdown. Our Republican colleagues used the same measure to refuse to take up the Senate bill which would have ended the government shutdown. They didn’t want to end it, so they kept it going. That cost the American taxpayer $24 billion – $24 billion in damage to the economy. Let’s not play games with the rule. This rule allows every Member their rights. The Speaker is not the king, and we should make sure every Member has an opportunity. Thank you Mr. Speaker.”