WASHINGTON -- A video of Montgomery County Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen battling with House Republicans over legislation to reopen government agencies has gone viral -- picking up 1.7 million views in recent days -- as lawmakers continue to wrestle over a deal to end the weeks long budget impasse.
The exchange between Van Hollen and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who was presiding over the chamber at the time, centers on an obscure rule change that prohibited Democrats from bringing a "clean," policy-free bill to the House floor to end the government shutdown.
Generally, House rules allow any member to force legislation to the floor for a vote if the House and Senate don't agree on going to a conference committee to resolve differences -- as has happened in this case. But Republicans changed the rule to allow only Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, to make that motion.
The House voted on and approved the rule change on Oct. 1. All but seven Democrats voted against it.
"The Rules Committee…changed the standing rules of the House to take away the right of any members to move to vote to open the government and gave that right exclusively to the Republican leader, is that right?" asks Van Hollen, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
"The House adopted that resolution," Chaffetz said.
"Why were the rules rigged to keep the government shutdown?" Van Hollen asked.
"The gentleman will suspend," Chaffetz said, indicating that debate on the issue was over.
"Democracy has been suspended," Van Hollen responded.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun