My Bad: Dispelling The Implied Suspension of Discharge

The Daily Kos has a piece authored by “War on Error” that linked to my piece today on H.Res. 368. I want to correct a misinterpretation in that piece.  The author states that

Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, tried to end the Government Shutdown with a Discharge Petition on October 12, 2013

This isn’t correct.  Van Hollen was attempting to offer a motion to “recede and concur,” which is typically privileged (and thus in order at any time when offered by any member) under Rule XXII, Section 4 of the House’s standing rules. This isn’t a motion to discharge in any sense, actually, as the bill in question (H.J.Res.59, which, as amended by the Senate, is the “clean CR”) isn’t in committee.  Rather, it is “in the state of disagreement”—or, less technically, “in limbo”—as the House and Senate have each passed different versions of the bill, and the House has insisted on its version and requested a conference with the Senate.

I understand the potential for confusion in my post, because I wrote “What this [special rule] does is further make discharge of a clean CR even harder.”  I was speaking/typing quickly and in reference to the general quest to get a floor vote on a clean CR.  I should have said

“What this [special rule] does is further make discharge of a clean CR even harder complicate the matter of getting a floor vote on a clean CR in the House.”

The privilege accorded to a motion to discharge a committee (i.e., to “put into play” a discharge petition duly signed by 218 members of the House) is contained in Rule XV, Section 2o f the House’s standing rules, and is accordingly unaffected by H.Res.368.  As I wrote earlier, the discharge petition is a highly unlikely route to reach a vote on a clean CR, and indeed would have had to be called up today or wait until October 28th.

Also, to be completely clear on this point, Van Hollen’s statement that “Democracy has been suspended” is hyperbole: H.Res.368 is a short and succinct special rule that was duly approved by a vote of 228-199.  Regardless of how one feels about the use of special rules in the House, it is (one of many forms of) democratic governance, and is (at least in my and many others’ opinions) clearly consistent with Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the US Constitution, which says (in part)

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings

With that, I leave you with this.