House Republicans pushed through a set of restrictions on funding President Barack Obama’s signature health care law Friday as the chamber slowly worked through its short-term funding measure.
With more than a 100 amendments left to be voted on and 18 hours of debate to be had, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) pleaded with his colleagues for brevity in their remarks so the House could wrap up sometime Friday night.
“All of us want to finish and complete this bill today. ... I would ask Members to be mindful of the prudence of being concise and expeditious in their remarks,” Cantor said.
“Perhaps we can finish at a reasonable hour this evening.”
But Cantor’s request may be falling on deaf ears. Leadership has thus far been unable to persuade its members to drop significant numbers of amendments, and lawmakers have continued to use their debate time on the floor.
The situation on the floor remained fluid Friday afternoon, and aides said work could continue until well after midnight with a final vote as late as Saturday morning.
Friday’s lineup of amendments was chock full of political proposals, as Republicans catered to their base. In addition to eliminating some funding for the health care bill, Republicans passed limits on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the ability of the government to limit drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and funding for Planned Parenthood.
But while Republicans may have been able to rally around cuts to the health care law, divisions within their own Conference remained. The House defeated a Republican Study Committee amendment offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) that would have imposed a 5.5 percent cut to eight non-security accounts, while imposing an 11 percent cut to the legislative branch account.
Republicans also defeated a number of Democratic proposals, most notably Rep. Betty McCollum’s (D-Minn.) amendment to bar the Pentagon from spending money on advertising in NASCAR races. The amendment has sparked significant controversy among some on the right, and McCollum received at least one threatening fax over her amendment this week.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.