House GOP invokes ‘martial law’ for avoiding shutdown

House GOP invokes ‘martial law’ for avoiding shutdown

By Cristina Marcos

The House voted Thursday to give GOP leaders flexibility next week in fast-tracking a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Democrats protested over the move, known as martial law, which allows the House to consider a rule that establishes procedural guidelines for debating legislation on the same day it is produced by the House Committee on Rules.

Under normal circumstances, the House must wait a day before conducting a floor vote on a rule reported out of the committee.

House GOP leaders routinely deploy martial law around tight legislative deadlines. However, Democrats have not always forced the House to conduct a roll-call vote to adopt it.

Four Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing the rule change in the 237-187 vote: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.).

The authority to fast-track legislation to the floor will apply on the two days the House is in session next week, Sept. 24 and 25. Government funding will expire on Oct. 1, meaning the House and Senate have a dwindling number of days left to avert a shutdown.

The House was originally scheduled to be in recess all of next week, but changed plans after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that Pope Francis would address Congress on Sept. 24.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said a stopgap funding bill is “ready to go,” but awaits an expiration date and floor time decided by GOP leaders.

Conservatives and establishment Republicans remain at odds over how to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of controversial undercover videos depicting the organization’s use of fetal tissue donations.

Without action by Congress, the government will shut down on Oct. 1.

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