Real life House of Cards in House of Representatives
March 27th, 2014
04:34 PM ET
9 years ago

Real life House of Cards in House of Representatives

Washington (CNN) – What happened in the House Thursday was something out of an episode of the television series "House of Cards," a show about intrigue and sneaky deals in the nation's capital.

Facing defeat on a bill to head off major cuts to physicians who treat Medicare patients, House GOP leaders abruptly pulled it from the floor Thursday morning. They called a recess, sending most members back to their offices to await word on the schedule for the day.

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Republican and Democratic leaders huddled behind closed doors. Then, a surprise move. While people were still in their offices, the same bill was brought up and quickly passed by a voice vote. Members were caught off guard when they showed up on the House floor and learned the bill had passed.

Both parties were in cahoots on the unusual legislative maneuver circumventing an actual roll call vote on the measure.

Senate Democrats and House Republicans have been at loggerheads over how to prevent an annual cut in federal reimbursements to Medicare doctors. Leaders on both sides worked on a one year deal that would punt talks on a permanent solution until after the midterm election.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid negotiated the temporary so called "doc fix" with top House Republicans to avoid any impact on seniors' medical care. But many House conservatives objected to the fix because of its cost. That meant GOP leaders needed a bloc of House Democrats to get it through. House Democrats, however, were also split on the measure because many wanted a longer term deal. Leaders were in a quandary. Monday is the deadline to fix the cuts to Medicare doctors, and the House was about to leave town for the weekend.

Rep. Gerry Connelly of Virginia said he and other Democrats who happened to be on the floor were totally surprised when they heard the same bill that was pulled earlier was coming up for a vote. He and other Democrats quickly yelled "no," but the gavel came down and the presiding officer announced the bill passed.

Asked if the move was sneaky, Connelly avoided criticizing his own leaders, but quoted TV politician Frank Underwood, the main character of House of Cards, "'you might say that, you might very well say that, but I cannot comment.'"

Even those who wanted an actual vote faced a dilemma because if the bill failed seniors across the country would be angry at Congress for not coming up with a solution.

Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, a physician, opposed the bill and the process that let it go through so suddenly. But he admitted he knew GOP leaders were talking about this strategy.

"Many of us like me don't like it enough to vote for it, but the problem is, if we kill it, if we let it go down, then all of the sudden it expires and 24% cuts across the board to physicians occur," Fleming told reporters.

One exasperated Democrat, Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, asked about what transpired, said "I didn't know it happened. You know what – we should be voting on it."

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, speaking on the House floor later on Thursday, said he was convinced he and other opponents secured enough votes to block the short term deal so he went back to his office when the recess was called.

When the vote happened Gohmert didn't make it back in time to object, and he decried the tactic, saying, "you need to be able to trust your own leadership."

Pressed whether the move undermined the democratic process, Fleming replied, "it does, but again this is what leadership gave us on both sides."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. The REAL Truth...

    And the right complains about Obama's ratings being 45%, but wonder why Congress' is barely in double digits??

    March 27, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    Par for the course(House).

    March 27, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. jedclampett

    The tea partiers probably wanted to attach abortion restrictions to the bill.

    March 27, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. ????

    And not a word from CNN about the Democratic state senator from California (a gun control advocate) who was caught in an FBI sting for gun running. Selective "journalism".

    March 27, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. jinx9to88

    "House of Cards"? It should read House of Comedy!! These clowns are pathetic!

    March 27, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. pkMyt1

    Wow, I'm surprised Boehner actually grew a pair and did this.

    March 27, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. AR

    none of the members on the floor has the right to demand a roll call?

    March 27, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Gunderson

    Politics do make strange bedfellows, no? This another good reason to get the Federal Government out of collecting and disbursing money in most cases, and this case. And the National Debt just keeps rising.

    March 27, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |

    Keep whning libs. It's all you've ever had anyways.

    March 27, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Getoverit

    But, of course, nothing on CNN about the 6 Democratic senators that are up for reelection, and are pushing for changes to Obamacare because they fear for their jobs.

    March 27, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |

    See, that's WHY we NEED to GET RID of house GOP radicals so we can get businessDONE. Even the GOP leadership AGREES!!!!!

    March 27, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    Republican senators Hatch, Coburn, and Burr have floated a republican alternative to ACA. It will require an increase in taxes and kick millions out of insurance. Now there is a republican dream come true.

    March 27, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  13. ChrisM

    lol, both parties leadership came up with the scheme to get the bill thru so the wingers (both sides) could not stop it.
    Now that’s bipartisanship

    March 27, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |

    I wonder what jill was thinking ? I bet he told her that her hair was nice an Swore she could keep her Dr. . . For the rest of her life to death do they part . ? And she would be rich as he was sliding in the back door deals . . ?

    March 27, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. Vegas1970

    Affordable Health Care… We want it but we refuse to take any action which may be a step in that direction… (lowering dr pay..)… We deserve to be paying twice as much as other countries for our healthcare.

    March 27, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  16. rs

    It is good news that the bill passed, and appalling that to get such a common sense bill through the House had to resort to such tactics.

    March 27, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Earlier, a right wingnut asked what a junk policy was. I hope this will help:

    Known as "mini-meds" or "junk insurance," these products often are little more than discount cards that can leave unknowing consumers with huge medical debt. Even a policy expert from the conservative Heritage Foundation, no fan of the Affordable Care Act, says they aren't worth keeping.

    March 27, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. FamilyDoc2

    The underlying reason for only doing a one-year extension on the "doc fix" is that physician organizations will then feel that they must continue to lobby federal legislators in order to prevent these ridiculous cuts to Medicare reimbursement. Congress doesn't want the "rain" of campaign contributions to stop, so they fail once again to enact a reasonable solution. This charade has continued since 1997, and in my opinion my colleagues need to wise up and simply dare Congress to fail to pass another fix in 2015; and to work hard for and contribute to Democratic congressional campaigns.

    March 27, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Smitty

    What do you expect from Ried, who lies about most anything, when the Pres lies about what the Pope disguised why does this surprise anybody ???

    March 27, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. BudW

    Not a peep about Leland Yee on CNN hummmmmm

    March 27, 2014 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  21. alloydflanagan

    I, too, am totally shocked, nay devestated, that in an article about Medicare reimbursements CNN didn't mention Obamacare politics or gun running. Why, they didn't mention global warming or even the price of eggs. What were they thinking?

    March 27, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. kamarasune

    The International Monetary Fund announced a bailout of up to $18 billion for cash-strapped Ukraine on Thursday.....

    We worketh and the government taketh away and giveth to everybody but those who earned it....

    March 27, 2014 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. Marie MD

    Why do teaklans hate Americans and don't want the best for the country?

    March 27, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. gkam

    Republicans don't like paying to help people.

    They put us $4,000,000,000,000 in debt to kill 200,000 Iraqi civilians in the Bush Wars, but will not spend to help people.

    March 27, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  25. Brian

    I hope for a congress of Americans and not one of Democrats or Republicans. the two gangs that are running us into the ground. We doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Roman Empire that fell because of corruption and internal fighting amongst the senate.

    March 28, 2014 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
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