Last night, Republicans demonstrated their commitment to preserving the rights of the minority party by approving a rule that would prohibit Democrats from offering any significant amendments to H.R. 2, the GOP’s Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act and allows for just seven hours of debate on the floor. Twenty-five democrats offered at least 30 amendments aimed at preserving such popular consumer protections as closing the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, preventing insurers from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions and charging women more than men for the same amount of coverage. Republicans insisted that they supported these measures but argued that they had to prevent Democrats from bringing them up on the House floor because they wanted to allow the committee chairman with jurisdiction over health care to consider these amendments in the process of drafting a new bill.
“We don’t want to do anything to undermine women’s rights and we are absolutely committed to that,” Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) said in response to a Democratic amendment preserving a provision in the law that prohibits sex discrimination in insurance coverage. “This will be one of those issues that we hope very much gets a full hearing and consideration and I can assure you that it will…I’m not going to be voting ‘no’ against women’s rights. I’m going to be voting yes to make sure the committee process has an opportunity to address this,” he explained. Dreier also offered a separate amendment — H.R. 9 — designed to assuage Democrats’ concerns about losing the protections. It instructs the committees of jurisdiction to report a bill to the House which will “foster economic growth and private sector job creation by eliminating job-killing policies and regulations.” It does not specifically address protections for women.
Ironically, Dreier’s rule also contradicts his argument from earlier this year, when he urged then Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter to hold an open rule that would allow for Republican amendments. “I think what we witnessed here underscores the need for an open rule and a debate on the House floor,” he told her.
Last night, he assured Democrats that repealing the entire health care law without an open debate process would allow for greater debate in the future. “I believe all of you have come here with very thoughtful proposals,” Drier told the Democrats who testified before the committee. “We believe, as this measure is going to be before us that nobody wants to throw the baby out with the bath water…I can assure you that having talking with the individual committee chairmen, there is a very strong commitment to your right to discuss and fully fully fully debate the proposals that you have and to have a vote.”
The Committee did allow one Democratic amendment from Rep. Jim Matheson, which would “instruct the House committees to include a permanent fix for the Sustainable Growth Rate in their reform alternatives. Democrats will also be able to offer a motion to recommit on the repeal measure.”
Dreier is currently on the floor leading debate on the rule. Amanda Terkel observes via Twitter: “Rep. Dreier said that no open amendment process on repeal bc “elections have consequences.” Apparently, only when Republicans win.”
,The Rule passed 236-181. Two Republicans voted present and 4 Democrats — Boren, Kissell, McIntyre, Ross– voted in favor of the rule.