Republicans Raise Objections, Protesters Raise a Ruckus
House Republicans on Sunday raised numerous objections and procedural motions on the House floor in an effort to delay action on health care legislation, but they acknowledged that under the rules adopted by Democrats there will be little they can do to stop the final vote from taking place.
On the House floor, Republicans repeatedly attempted to offer parliamentary inquiries to coax the chair to make rulings in their favor, but they were rebuffed. While Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) held the gavel, he read the rules of parliamentary inquiries, indicating that he believed Republicans were making requests that he could not entertain.
While they lack numbers on the House floor, Republicans clearly held the advantage among the crowd of protesters that flooded the Capitol grounds.
Several House Republicans took to the balcony just outside of the House chamber to rile up the crowd and egg them on in chants of “liberty,” “liars” and drawn-out choruses of “Nancy” a reference to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
At one point, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and Reps. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) waved their arms at the protesters that had gathered on the Capitol grounds.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) also emerged briefly to give the crowd a thumbs-up.
Others Members waved signs indicating they plan to vote no, and some Members ventured into the crowd.
Texas GOP Reps. Michael McCaul and Randy Neugebauer were surrounded by protesters who cheered support when the Members reinforced their plans to vote “no” on the bill.
“Don’t stop! Keep up! We’re going to win his fight!” Neugebauer yelled into a bullhorn provided him by a protester holding a giant “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was seen picking protesters out of the crowd and bringing them into the Capitol for personal tours.
“I’m just going to bring in as many as I can bring in so they can see what’s going on,” she said.
However, Foxx and other Republicans continued to try to walk the line between encouraging protesters and not being blamed for some of their more outrageous actions such as yelling racial and homophobic slurs at Democratic members.
Foxx said she did not condone the actions of some of the protesters yesterday and warned them against “casting aspersions.”
“That is not the appropriate thing to do,” Foxx said. “We should not show any bad behavior in this fight.”
But the bad behavior was not limited to the protests outside the Capitol.
A fracas briefly erupted on the House floor after several Republicans stood up and cheered a man in the gallery who stood up and yelled, “Kill the bill. You are not listening to American people!”
The outburst in the gallery, and the reaction from House Republicans, infuriated Democrats and appeared to prompt a conversation between House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and former Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Blunt then chatted with Republican leaders.
Later, Pence told reporters that Republicans who clapped and cheered the interruption had reacted inappropriately to the protester.
“Citizens in the gallery are the guests of the House,” Pence said. “Outbursts of that nature are not appropriate. House Republicans are going stand for the rules of decorum on the floor.”
The chair also stopped during the first votes on the day to lecture the House on the rules of decorum and the misuse of handouts on the House floor — after majority staff said Democrats walked into the chamber to find photos of Democratic Members defeated in 1994 placed on their seats.
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said Republicans had placed the photos there.
The chair noted that the rules of decorum require materials to contain the name of the Member authorizing the distribution and should comport with the decorum of the House — an apparent rebuke for Republicans.
On Sunday morning, House Republicans huddled briefly on the Senate side of the Capitol before marching en masse through the second floor into the House chamber.
During the meeting, leaders rallied their members for the last day of the health care debate, according to GOP sources inside the meeting.
Pence highlighted the achievements of several Members over the past week, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) — who Pence said “harnessed the love of the American people.”
Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), the only Republican to vote for the House health care reform bill, received a standing ovation for his decision to vote against the Senate legislation, the sources said.
Cao has said he would not vote for the Senate bill because it did not include language that explicitly barred federal funding of abortions.
Steven T. Dennis, Daniel Newhauser and Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.