As a denizen of the minority party during my first 26 years as a staffer in the House, I came to be quite an expert on majority party moves to counter minority party provocations. At one point, I even coined a bastardization of Newton’s third law of motion to characterize these moves: “For every minority action, there’s an unequal and opposite overreaction.”
That came to mind last week when the House Rules Committee gave the majority leader the authority to bundle bills considered under a suspension of the rules and move for a single, en bloc vote. The special authority was tucked into a rule that provided for the consideration of three major bills, including D.C. statehood and two border immigration issues (all under no-amendment rules).
On Tuesday, April 20, the same day the special rule was reported to the House and adopted, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) exercised his new authority by moving to pass by a single, en bloc vote, ten relatively non-controversial bills that had previously been debated under suspension by the House (40-minutes of debate, no amendments and a two-thirds vote for passage) but on which there had been a demand for a rollcall vote. Ordinarily, such bills are passed by voice vote. In this instance, a small minority of Republicans, aka the Freedom Caucus, had decided, for whatever reason, to use the opportunity to slow things down.