House Republicans say they support a closed rule on healthcare repeal bill

Three House Republicans said Thursday morning that they support a closed rule when it considers a healthcare repeal bill next week, which would prevent Democrats from offering amendments to the bill when it is considered.

In today's House Rules Committee hearing, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), House Education and Labor Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a strong opponent of last year's healthcare bill, each said they would support a closed rule.

"I don't think we need an open rule," Upton said in response to a question from Rep. James McGovern (R-Mass.). Upton argued that Republicans would like to pass the repeal bill, H.R. 2, and then spend the coming months working on a replacement bill. Upton said there would be time to work on this, since the Senate would also have to pass a repeal bill and the White House would have to sign it — events that no one expects to happen.

"I don't support an open rule," Kline said. Kline rejected McGovern's charge that Republicans were acting too quickly, and said Republicans have been very clear that they would immediately pursue a repeal bill.

King also said he supports a closed rule by saying "I'd suggest there is nothing to amend."

McGovern said he is "stunned" by Republican support for a closed rule, since Republican leaders have made a general pledge to allow the minority party to have a say in a legislative process. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in his first speech to the House just yesterday that Republicans would work with Democrats.

McGovern also argued that Republicans have not held any hearings or markups on the bill. On this point, King argued that last year's healthcare law is "illegitimate" because that law was not subject to any House hearings, as it was a Senate bill that the House adopted.

The Rules Committee is expected to vote on a rule today providing for the consideration of H.R. 2 and a related resolution, H.Res. 9.