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Updated: 6:45 p.m.
Liberal House Democrats are staging a filibuster of sorts to register their opposition to Republicans’ spending proposal for the remainder of fiscal 2011.
Roughly two dozen members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus came to the House floor Tuesday afternoon as part of a coordinated attack to denounce and delay progress on the contentious GOP spending bill.
“We’re just trying to send a message,” a CPC aide said.
In response to the maneuver, Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said, “The messages being sent by Democrats filibustering serious efforts to save taxpayer dollars is that they have no plan to get our fiscal house in order and that they still haven’t learned from an election shellacking that cost them the majority.”
The CPC members sought to make their point by exploiting a loophole in the terms under which the continuing resolution was brought to the floor. Because the spending bill came to the floor under a modified open rule that allows most amendments to be in order, any Member could claim five minutes to debate any amendment on the floor by moving to “strike the last word” of the preceding colleague. And the CPC members decided to do just that.
“This is the quirk of the open rule,” said the CPC aide, who did not rule out the possibility that CPC members would seek to similarly “filibuster” other amendments.
The House at the time was debating an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to slash funding for certain boards and commissions. The Flake amendment was one of hundreds that could be offered to the spending measure, which funds the government through Sept. 30.
Most of the liberal Democrats who spoke Tuesday used their five minutes to take aim at the bill.
“I don’t understand a plan that takes from the working man and woman in this country,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said.
CPC Co-Chairman Keith Ellison accused Republicans of trying to reduce the deficit on the backs on the nation’s most needy.
“We need to stop the Republican ‘no jobs’ agenda,” the Minnesota Democrat said.