Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, who served as the presiding officer in a pro forma session of the House Wednesday, told The Daily Caller that Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was in “violation of the House rules” when requesting to be recognized on the floor in an attempt to force a vote on the Senate’s two-month payroll tax cut extension. Fitzpatrick called Hoyer’s actions a “publicity stunt.”
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“I was the presiding officer on the floor of the House in a pro forma session when Mr. Hoyer requested to be recognized — in violation of the House rules, I might add,” Fitzpatrick told TheDC in an exclusive interview at the Capitol on Wednesday night.
“There’s a longstanding policy, it goes back through speakers of the House, all the way back to Tip O’Neill in 1981 that requires for unanimous consent that both parties’ leadership accede to the request for the unanimous consent offer. Mr. Hoyer is a former Majority Leader of the House, he knows the rules or should know the rules and it was my job to enforce them and I did.”
Hoyer directly criticized Fitzpatrick in a press conference after the session ended.
“Mr. Van Hollen and I just participated on the floor of the House and sought to seek recognition so that we could ask unanimous consent to place on the floor and to pass legislation which would give certainty and assurance to seniors, to the unemployed and to 160 million Americans who are at risk of losing their tax cut on January 1st… Unfortunately, as has happened so often, the acting speaker, Republican presiding officer, walked out. He walked out, would not render recognition and would not allow Mr. Van Hollen and I to make that unanimous consent request and move forward,” he said.
“This is unfortunate,” said Hoyer. “The irony is that he appointed five conferees, all of whom at one point or another have said that they are opposed to a one-year extension of the middle-class tax cut, and in fact, have made comments similar to the speaker’s that the middle-class tax cut is a gimmick.”
According to official House rules, “The Speaker has announced and enforced a policy of conferring recognition for unanimous-consent requests for the consideration of unreported bills and resolutions only when assured that majority and minority floor and committee leaderships have no objections.” The policy has been extended to reported bills as well.
Fitzpatrick fired back at Hoyer, saying he was attempting to turn the House floor into a press conference.
“Frankly, Mr. Hoyer was in violation of the House rules requesting to be recognized. He knew it was in violation of the House rules. Frankly, it was a publicity stunt on their part. They were trying to call essentially what amounted to a press conference on the floor of the House and I enforced the rules,” Fitzpatrick told TheDC.