Every Tuesday, the current House rules allow for unlimited one minute speeches by members from both sides of the aisle when the House comes into session. Members can speak on any issue of their choosing for one minute. Yesterday, in an effort coordinated by the office of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Republican Whip, 134 Republican members of the House gave one minute speeches from the House floor. The speeches were mostly about jobs and healthcare or a combination of the two issues, most Republican members asking, "Where are the jobs?"
One minutes began at noon when all but a very few Democrats were in their weekly caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol building. The floor effort by Republicans stretched the one minute speech period to over three and a half hours.
At one point a furious Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the Democrat majority leader, took to the floor for more than one minute, personally attacking the record of Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chair of the House Republican Conference. House rules only allow members to address their remarks to the Speaker’s chair. A steaming Hoyer threw that rule right out the window.
“Mr. Pence, you opposed a program in 1993, you said it would destroy this economy, you thought it would blow deficits sky high. It created 216,000 jobs per month, on average. You then supported an economic program in 2001. You said it would be a heaven for jobs and small businesses and all that. You created not 216,000 jobs per month but 4,240. Those are the figures. I’m sure that you’ll all want to come here and say no. Hoyer was wrong on those figures. … That is a very substantial difference between 20.8 million jobs under the economic program that you did not support in 1993 that we proposed and passed and President Clinton signed. … Those are the facts, refute them if you can.”
Pence had already given his one minute speech earlier in the day, but after several parliamentary inquiries and machinations, he was allowed to speak out of order for one minute to refute Hoyer’s claims. Pence reminded Hoyer that he was not a member of the House in 1993, that he was not elected until the year 2000, making Hoyer’s statement impossible.
A fact check of Hoyer’s claims with the Bureau of Labor showed jobs under Republicans produced different numbers than he put forth. Jobs created under President George W. Bush averaged 19,000 per month from January 2001 through January 2009. During the time Republicans held Congress during the Bush years, jobs grew from 132.469 million to 137.180 million. That’s an increase in 4.7 million jobs for an average of 65,000 per month for 72 months. That period includes the impact of the 2001 recession inherited from the Clinton administration as well as the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Democrats took control of the House in January of 2007. Since that time, the U.S. has lost 5.488 million jobs, in 29 months. That’s an average of 189,000 jobs lost per month.
It’s unclear exactly what legislation Hoyer was referring to, the legislation he claimed Pence opposed in 1993 — seven years before he was elected.
Democrats have severely restricted avenues for Republicans to speak from the House floor in the legislative process, including the historically unprecedented move barring amendments to appropriations bills. What remains to be seen is if Democrats will change the rules and stop unlimited Tuesday one minute speeches.
President Blames GOP for Delay of Healthcare Bill
In a likely prelude to tonight’s second prime-time presidential sales pitch on the government takeover of healthcare, the President made remarks yesterday from the White House Rose Garden blaming the GOP for the stalled bills. The President had made demands that Congress pass healthcare legislation by the August break.
Obama said Republicans “have openly declared their intention to block healthcare reform.” He also repeated claims that anyone who likes their healthcare plan will be able to keep it — even though the structure of the House bill “public option” is designed is to phase out private insurance as an option.
Just in case the President has forgotten, Democrats enjoy a substantial majority in Congress. Here’s a handy reminder of the current breakdown in Congress:
House of Representatives
United States Senate
If Republicans were the problem as the President claimed, Democrats could easily pass the government takeover of healthcare on a straight party line vote.
Three hours before the President’s Rose Garden remarks, Republican Whip Eric Cantor gave these prescient comments at a Republican House leadership press conference.
“Either this bill fails, or it will change dramatically,” Cantor said. “And if the bill fails, it will be because of disagreement among the Democrats as to the proper direction to head as far as health care reform is concerned. The disagreement on the other side of the aisle reflects the growing fear among Americans about the potential for a government takeover of our health care system. But we are at a crossroads. This administration and this President have no one else to blame. They have no straw men.”
Apparently, the President didn’t get the memo.
Mayo Clinic Opposes House Democrat Healthcare Bill
Often cited by the President as the standard for quality, more affordable healthcare, the Mayo Clinic has released a two-paragraph statement on their blog in opposition to the House Democrat healthcare bill:
“Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill — including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects — the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.
In general, the proposals under discussion are not patient focused or results oriented. Lawmakers have failed to use a fundamental lever — a change in Medicare payment policy — to help drive necessary improvements in American health care. Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in American health care will wither. The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.”