In a widely televised inaugural speech this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated his commitment to “openness” and fair debate in the 112th Congress, even as his new majority prepares to bar Democrats from offering any amendments to the health care repeal legislation and is forgoing the normal process of debating the measures in committee before they’re brought to the floor:
BOEHNER: We will do these things that restores and respects the time honored right of the minority to an honest debate, a fair and open process. And to my friends in the minority, I offer a commitment — openness. Once a tradition of this institution, but increasingly scare in recent decades, will be the new standard. There are no open rules in the House in the last Congress, in this one there will be many. And with restored openness, however, comes a restored responsibility. You will not have the right to willfully disrupt the proceedings of the people’s house, but you will always have the right to a robust debate and an open process that allows you to represent your constituents, to make your case, offer alternatives, and be heard.
Just yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) — who was also sworn-in today — hinted to reporters “that the GOP will not allow what’s known as an ‘open rule.” “It’s a straightforward document,” Cantor said of the legislation that would repeal the largest reform of America’s health care system. “It reflect what most people inside the beltway and outside the beltway want.” The New York Times also confirmed last night that the health repeal legislation “will not be subject to amendments, nor will Republicans have to abide by their own new rules that compel them to offset the cost of new bills that add to the deficit; the health care repeal and tax cuts are not subject to this new rule.”
When the House first passed reform in November 2009 and then again in March 2010, Republicans insisted that they should be able to offer unlimited amendments to the legislation on the House floor and argued that all parts of the bill must first be debated in the appropriate committees of jurisdiction. Watch a compilation of their demands here.