The "doc patch" vote maneuver

In neck-breaking fashion, GOP leadership took to the House floor on Thursday morning and voice-voted a one-year patch to the Sustainable Growth Rate - a pricey formula that determines how much the government pays doctors who treat Medicare patients.

Republican leadership worked with their Democratic counterparts to orchestrate the ploy. As members returned to the floor when the House came into session, they discovered that the bill had already passed. Nearly all of them were surprised.

No one had the chance to vote no, no one had a chance to vote yes.

The article doesn’t explain exactly what happened. Can someone knowledgeable explain this? Did they just send a few people in and ran it through with a dozen reps voting? Isn’t there a quorum requirement? Don’t you have to announce the vote in advance - at least a few hours in advance?

This really seems like a banana republic kind of thing to do and I am surprised House rules allow it.

I’m surprised no one seems to be asking this in the comments. The description of what actually happened is extremely lacking. Isn’t Politico supposed to be a high quality site?

It honestly reads like the writer doesn’t even understand what happened.

It seems banana-republicesque to get to the brink of imposing automatic across-the-board Medicare reimbursement cuts on doctors every frigging year, then to vote at the eleventh hour to override the cuts - never addressing the mechanism that causes all this needless angst for both patients and physicians (noting also that Medicare reimbursement rates have already been cut for many physicians in recent years on a discretionary basis*).

*for instance.

What happened was they had planned to call for an expedited vote which needs 2/3rds of the house to approve. They were not sure they could get it so they did a voice vote which just needs a judgement that the ayes have more votes. Any member can request an actual roll call vote, this is to ensure that the will of the majority is not superseded by a suprise voice vote. However, in this case the bill has the support of both parties leadership and no one wants to be the one to object. Ending the doc fix without an alternative in place would be massively unpopular so no one wants to be the one to cause it to end. But there are members who don’t want to be on record as voting for it since they support an alternative. This allows the bill to pass without members having to make an unpopular vote either way, and since both parties are in the same boat there is no partisan advantage in pressing for a regular vote.

Explain this to me then:

The decision by GOP House leaders to circumvent the planned roll call vote caught many of their own members by surprise.

“They voiced it? Oh, my God,” exclaimed Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as he walked onto the House floor.

Now - did he exclaim it before the vote or after it? And really - unless it is an overwhelming “aye” voice vote, it really seems like an extremely corrupt way to avoid responsibility for bad laws.

He exclaimed that after the vote. There were ongoing negotiations to pass the law in a roll call, so that is why he was suprised. I agree that it is a way for congressmen to avoid responsibility for the laws they passed, but it was not something the leadership did to overrule the rank and file, but rather the fault of the body as a whole.

Let me understand that. Was he present during the “voice” vote? Because if he was, the ““They voiced it? Oh, my God,” exclaimed Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as he walked onto the House floor.” after the vote is pretty hard to understand.

Anyone else think that “The Doc Patch Vote Maneuver” was the latest BBT episode?

It does seem like a banana-republic sorta thing to do.

But it also seems like a banana republic sorta thing that a large portion of one political party is less interested in governing than in throwing sand in the gears of governing.

In the long run, these folks need to be turned into a powerless minority. But for right now, it may be that the only way to accomplish even the basics of governing will be through using banana-republic moves against the Banana Republicans.

Ah a bit of clarification:

Shortly after noon, the bill was passed by voice vote, with the chair — Republican Rep. Steve Womack — deciding that two-thirds of the very few members in the room had said “aye.” Most members were unaware the vote was taking place and missed it, as did quite a few reporters.

Ok - isn’t there a quorum requirement for votes in the House? I thought that at least 218 House members were required to be present for a vote to be taken.

I thought it was a story line from Li’l Abner

Only if someone objects that there is no quorum. Each party station at least one person on the floor to prevent this sort of thing. Here clearly the fix was in.