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NPR Defunding Bill Violated 72 Hour Rule

Back when Speaker Boehner was campaigning to be Speaker, he said things like this (source):

“If you will help me elect a Republican majority this November.” Boehner promised, “we will be open, we will be transparent and we will listen.”

Boehner promised that Republicans would “post every bill online for at least 72 hours before it comes to the House floor for a vote.”

And, once the GOP took control of the chamber, this became a rule of the chamber.  It was part of the vaunted “Read the Bill” movement that was popular in some GOP quarters during the previous Congress.

However, it appears that the NPR defunding measure violated that rule.  Via CNN:  Dem. tweaks House Republicans ahead of NPR defunding vote:

Weiner objected to consideration of the bill, saying it violates a House rule, “which requires 72 hour layover of the bill and it to be electronically noticed in order for it to be considered by the House.” He continued, “This bill did not lay over for 72 hours. It was noticed at 1:42 p.m. on Tuesday. Therefore it has to wait until 1:42 on Friday to be in compliance with the rules of the House.”

Poe responded that the rule is not predicated on a number of hours, “but rather on a number of calendar days.” He said that since the measure had been electronically available online since Tuesday, that would constitute three calendar days, thus not breaking any rules.

Weiner pushed a little further asking Poe to clarify, “Did this bill age for 72 hours? Yes or no?”

The Speaker said, he would not respond to hypothetical questions.

To me, rather than some “gotcha” moment this situation mostly just underscores why choosing arbitrary timespans like 72 hours on the calendar and treating them like moral stances is problematic.   This was a rule that was going to be broken—it was inevitable.  The Obama administration had a similar lapse early on when they promised something similar about posting bills to the White House web site and then failing to follow through on the promise.

Three additional thoughts:

1)  In reference to the text quoted above:  how was Weiner’s question a hypothetical?

2)  I will say that the violation of the 72 hour rule in this case underscores the ideological/partisan point-scoring nature of this action.  This was a lot more about feeding the base than it was about well, anything else.

3)  The previous point is reinforced by the fact that the Rules Committee had to be called into an “emergency hearing” to made a path for the bill to the floor.  Via The Caucus:  House Votes to Cut Off Money for NPR

On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee held an emergency hearing to expedite the bill, and it went to the floor under a so-called closed rule, which does not allow for amendments, counter to the promise of more openness made by Speaker John Boehner.

Republicans pointed out that the seven-page bill had already been debated when the larger spending bill was considered, and that the stand-alone measure was expedited so that the Republican-controlled House could be clear on its financing position.

I am philosophically sympathetic to the notion of ending subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, although I am also sympathetic to the argument that cutting said funds will have essentially zero effect on our fiscal situation and that it could harm a valuable public good.  However, forget that deeper debate, because I really can’t say that any of this looks like serious consideration of the issues—instead it looks like a situation designed to appeal to a specific set of GOP voters with the full knowledge that it will basically end here (even if it means violating a stance that was designed to appeal to that same set of voters).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Stan25 says:

    How could this legislation violate the 72 hour rule, when everyone in the world knew whet it was going to be even be it was sent to committee. I for one, am glad to see something happening on this front. As for Whiner oops Wiener, he can stuff a sock in that loud pie hole of his.

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  2. @Stan:

    Because there is a difference between knowing that an item is coming up versus the actual bill being constructed and submitted and placed on the calendar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Derrick says:

    How could this legislation violate the 72 hour rule, when everyone in the world knew whet it was going to be even be it was sent to committee.

    I love how this logic works for a week or two of public debate about NPR. We had 6 months of debate on HealthCare Reform and that didn’t stop any conservatives of making the same complaint that you see here.

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  4. TG Chicago says:

    Boehner’s “hypothetical” comment is awesomely ridiculous. I’m going to have to steal that when faced with a question I’d rather not answer.

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  5. tom p says:

    Whatever happened to the Republican focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs”? Oh, wait a minute, they were talking about their jobs.

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  6. PD Shaw says:

    stan25, I believe a large part of the impetus of the GOP commitment was a bill which had been disucussed for several months, if not years, but the when the actual language was introduced, it concealed things like the Cornhusker Kickback. So, I disagree, knowing the general substance of the bill is no excuse.

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  7. Jay Tea says:

    Steven, you’re right that the GOP did break a promise, and they should’ve done differently.

    But I don’t think it’s that big a deal. Obama made a similar promise, and he broke that one literally within days.

    In this case, I’m with Stan. On the grand scale of things, barely a misdemeanor — if that..

    J.

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  8. mattb says:

    In this case, I’m with Stan. On the grand scale of things, barely a misdemeanor — if that…

    The potential problem is, as Obama found, these misdemeanors start to add up. And given how the mainstream Republican party (in particular the House Young Guns) promised “purity” to the “Tea Party” crowd, each misdemeanor is another potential broken promise.

    However, I expect that they will get a pass on this one as the larger act, symbolic or not, fundamentally aligns with their bigger promise to their base.

    Things will get more heated when they get to cutting “pork” that crosses over into the interests of individual republicans or sections of their base (see farm and ethanol subsidies).

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  9. Hey Norm says:

    Republicans, since November have done nothing except increase the deficit, and wage a culture war. These folks are not serious about governing. Not at all.

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  10. ponce says:

    I think it’s a good thing that Boehner can buy off the wingnuts with meaningless votes.

    He may actually turn out to be a half way decent Speaker.

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  11. Jay Tea says:

    In for a penny, in for a pound.

    If we’re going to get accused of “trying to kill NPR” with a simple defunding, let’s go whole hog and strip them of their tax-exempt status, too.

    What are the liberals going to do — accuse us of trying to kill NPR, and then commit necrophilia?

    J.

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  12. Hey Norm says:

    Jay tea is onto something but I think if you can take away NPRs tax status just because the tea party doesn’t like it then we certainy should take away the tax status of the pedophiliac based catholic church. Imagine what those new found taxes on income and property would do for the republican enhanced deficit.

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  13. tom p says:

    Imagine what those new found taxes on income and property would do for the republican enhanced deficit.

    Get with it Hey Norm. The deficit is Obama’s fault.

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  14. Meanwhile we went another $5B in debt today, or $15B if you need 72 hours notice.

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  15. EddieInCA says:

    It’s Okay If You’re A Republican.

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  16. Jay Tea says:

    Norm, let me know when the Catholic Church starts getting direct funding from the federal government . And no, you can’t count aid to their hospitals and charities.

    J.

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  17. mantis says:

    And no, you can’t count aid to their hospitals and charities.

    Because Jay says so.

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  18. Tlaloc says:

    We should do away with tax exemptions for churches. There’s just no good reason for them and it encourages the creation of phoney churches.

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  19. sam says:

    And no, you can’t count aid to their hospitals and charities.

    Because Jay says so.

    Yeah, why can’t you count it? After all, money is fungible, right? At least that’s one of the arguments I’ve heard for defunding Planned Parenthood.

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  20. [...] NPR Defunding Bill Violated 72 Hour Rule.  The NPR vote was nothing more than political theatrics–and it violated a GOP campaign promise to boot. [...]

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  21. [...] They also violated their 72 Hour Rule! [...]

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