What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Protecting Rights of Congressional Minorities : H.R. 1332. Health Care/Procedural Vote on Motion that the Committee on the Whole House Rise. (2005 house Roll Call 86)
 Who: All Members
[POW!]
 

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H.R. 1332. Health Care/Procedural Vote on Motion that the Committee on the Whole House Rise.
house Roll Call 86     Mar 17, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House defeated a motion that the "Whole House Rise." This vote was a move by Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to protest the passage late the previous night of H.R. 1332, "The Protection of Incapacitated Persons Act of 2005." H.R. 1332 was drafted in response to the case of Theresa Marie Schiavo, whose parents sought the right to pursue in federal court their case to have her feeding tube reinserted. Schiavo's case sparked national attention following years of legal battle between various family members concerning whether, due to her persistently vegetative state, her feeding tube ought to be removed and she should be allowed to die. The Republican leadership had brought H.R. 1332 to the House floor late the previous night when many representatives were not present, and they had brought it up under "suspension of the rules." "Suspension of the rules" is a procedure usually reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Under that procedure, debate is strictly limited, amendments are prohibited and a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage. H.R. 1332 passed the House in that context by a mere voice vote (meaning that representatives were not required to record their individual votes). Blumenauer felt that the manner in which this legislation had been considered "bypassed proper legislative procedure," and that few representatives had even noticed that the legislation had been considered and passed. Thus, in the midst of a debate the next day about the budget, Blumenauer brought this procedural motion that the "Whole House Rise." (The House sometimes conducts its floor proceedings constituted as a "Committee of the Whole House," which symbolically puts the whole body on a par with other House Committees, for example, the Budget or the Judiciary Committee. The Committee on the Whole House, however, consists of all members of the House. The Committee of the Whole House "rises" when it has completed action on a bill to report the amended bill back to the House.) The sole purpose of this motion was to force representatives to come physically to the House floor so that Blumenauer could bring H.R. 1332 and the late-night proceedings under which it passed to the attention of the rest of the House. Members of the minority party–presently the Democrats–will often use procedural votes to register dissatisfaction with House proceedings, particularly if more substantive options are limited. Blumenauer said in a statement that, "[w]hile I have been hesitant in the past to use such procedural devices, I feel that this was a necessary step to bring the House's attention to a pressing matter. . . ." In the days preceding the vote on H.R. 1332, Progressives had objected strenuously to any intervention of Congress in the Schiavo case, noting that the Florida courts had already spoken in this matter and that Congress ought not to substitute the judgment of the federal courts simply because they did not like the outcome of the case as it emerged from the state court. Republicans had countered that Schiavo's case was a basic right-to-life case, and that it was both appropriate and necessary that Congress intervene where others would not in order to save Schiavo's life. The motion that the whole House rise was defeated by a vote of 101 to 313, with 89 Democrats joining Republicans to defeat the Progressive position. However, Blumenauer did succeed in drawing attention to the previous night's passage of H.R. 1332 by voice vote.

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