House conservatives successfully derailed two bills that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to fast-track through the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday evening, a victory the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus told Breitbart News was “stunning.”
“That’s stunning,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), the House Freedom Caucus chairman, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Specifically, Pelosi had attempted to use a procedure called “suspension of the rules” — which requires a two-thirds supermajority of the House to succeed — to pass two highly controversial pieces of legislation. One, the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, would have allowed for LGBTQ-owned businesses to get favoritism in lending in much the same way minority-owned businesses may. The other, called the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, would have facilitated government-funded access to abortion drugs through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). After an effort led by Biggs and other House conservatives like Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and Chip Roy (R-TX) among others, the bills failed to achieve the two-thirds necessary to make it through the House and were stopped from passing the chamber for now.
“What the deal is on these suspension bills, they have to get two thirds to get them across the line,” Biggs told Breitbart News. “The significance of taking down the suspension votes is that the Democrats are trying to change all the rules and traditions of the House and force all of their agenda even if it’s not radical — but the radical parts and the non-radical parts — they’re trying to force it down our throats. Our position has always been that that is — it is that we have to fight on every issue. That’s why we ask for roll call votes on the suspension votes because we want transparency for the American public number one, and number two we want everybody to be recorded on how you vote, and number three we want to put the speed stick down. That’s what that’s been all about.”
According to the roll call of the votes on the House Clerk website, both votes failed. The LGBTQ bill failed after garnering 248 votes in favor with 177 opposed and five members not voting. The VA abortion bill failed by a wider margin, getting 240 votes in favor with 188 opposed and two members not voting.
Rosendale added in a statement exclusive to Breitbart News that this development is a significant loss for the Democrats and the left.
“The failure of these bills shows that the Freedom Caucus strategy to fight the Democratic majority using all the procedure at their disposal is working,” Rosendale said. “Combined with members willing to fight for principle, it worked to knock down two Democratic bills last night. One of the bills, which would have facilitated access to abortion drugs, I have been fighting since there were bipartisan efforts to move it through the VA committee. It was good to see the efforts of so many come together and hand the Left a defeat even in the minority.”
Biggs told Breitbart News, too, that these wins on Tuesday night are the first time this year the Republican Party has successfully tanked bills using this tactic. But, he added, now that the GOP has succeeded in using this Freedom Caucus-devised tactic, the Democrats may have to negotiate with Republicans on other matters. A senior conservative House GOP aide confirmed this has been a tactic the Freedom Caucus has employed all year, forcing roll call votes on suspension of the rules measures — with the hopes of taking a couple down to force the Democrats’ hands writ large.
“The underlying thing here is the Democrats do not believe the Republicans are unified enough to take them down and block them. So far, they’ve been right,” Biggs said. “I can’t tell you how critical this is in my opinion but by taking those down this is a leverage point to try to restore the balance. Right now they’re abusing us and not doing anything through regular order. For instance, they added a bill at the last minute this morning to try to put up. So the reality is that’s what we’re facing. If you don’t fast track it, you slow it down. The other thing is if you start taking some of these down, It gives you leverage points so the Democrats come back to us and say ‘alright, let’s make a deal.’ Maybe, if rationality were to win out, maybe they would come back and say ‘how do we make this thing work?’”
More broadly, too, Biggs said this is what the Republican voters across America want Republicans in Washington to be doing on everything: fighting the left’s agenda at every turn on every issue, and never giving an inch to the Democrats.
“In the Freedom Caucus, we’ve been doing this for months,” Biggs said. “Some of our own colleagues were ticked at us for doing it and said it was gimmicky. I kept trying to sell it like, so they would understand, that we get leverage points back and we slow it down and we’re fighting. It’s what our base wants us to do. All of those things are important. That it worked is good. Now we need to make it work on a regular basis and if we do that things are going to change up.”