House Speaker Paul Ryan’s newest rules change blocked a controversial LGBT amendment from moving to the House floor and threatening the passage of the annual Defense Department spending bill.
The House Rules Committee ruled Tuesday against adding the controversial amendment to its DOD spending bill that would have barred federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people in its hiring practices. The move outraged Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) who re-offered the amendment after the Orlando shooting massacre at a gay nightclub.
“It’s hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive. But if we were going to do anything, it would be a very positive step to say that discrimination has no place in our law and to reaffirm the president’s actions in this area,” Maloney told The Hill newspaper. “Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do.”
The move is an early indication of how the new rule may affect Democrats’ and Republicans’ abilities to offer controversial amendments and interrupt must-pass bills.
When Republican leaders announced earlier this month that members would have to introduce their amendments in the Rules Committee rather than going straight to the floor with them, many were concerned it could limit the minority’s voice. Even some conservatives worried the move ran counter to the open process Ryan had promised before he became as speaker. But, by allowing the House Rules Committee to block amendments before they become a problem on the floor, Ryan seems to have successfully safeguarded himself and his leadership from more embarrassing floor meltdowns.
Maloney’s amendment had already divided Republicans on the House floor twice, and Ryan had accused Democrats of trying to hijack the appropriations process by forcing votes on controversial amendments’s like Maloney’s.
Maloney had introduced his LGBT amendment on the floor during consideration of a Veterans spending bill in May. In that instance, some Republicans changed their votes at the last minute, sinking the amendment. But, Maloney tried again. He introduced his amendment to the Department of Energy’s spending bill. The amendment passed and ultimately sunk the spending bill.
It looks like for now Ryan’s rules fix will be able to keep troublesome amendments at bay even if it has forced him to limit the more open process he once promised.