Chris Van Hollen

October 15, 2013 by  

Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s most recent YouTube video has more views than his Maryland district has constituents.

The Democratic congressman’s video titled “The GOP’s little rule change they hoped you wouldn’t notice” casts a spotlight on a change to the House of Representatives’ rules regarding a bill to avoid the government shutdown. This flew under the radar for nearly two weeks until Van Hollen posted his video on Saturday. The video has since surpassed 800,000 views.

“This video hits a fundamental issue at the core of our democracy,” Van Hollen told Mashable via email. “But, because it involves an arcane parliamentary procedure, I had no idea that it would spark the public reaction we have seen.”

Under normal circumstances, any congressperson could call a vote “when the stage of a disagreement has been reached” on a joint resolution between the House and Senate. The House voted on a last-minute rule change late Sept. 30, however, which puts the power to call a vote solely in the hands of the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) or someone he designates.

The rule change only affects the funding bill. House Republicans want to tie changes to the Affordable Care Act – better known as “Obamacare” – to the funding the bill that would end the government shutdown. The Democrat-controlled Senate has vowed to strike down any bill that attempts to alter the new healthcare law.

“It was a surprise. It certainly goes against the regular order, said James Thurber, a government professor at American University. He also said he couldn’t immediately think of another instance that involved this type of rule change.

In the video above, Van Hollen says, “Democracy has been suspended,” when Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, suspends Van Hollen’s motion for a vote in accordance with the new rule.

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