The bill itself, which the House began debating after the rule vote, would repeal Department of Education rules that set federal guidelines for how states can permit educational institutions to operate within their borders, and also establish a federal definition for "credit hour." The rule also makes five amendments in order, which members are expected to consider and vote on later on Tuesday.

Approval of the rule followed a bitter yet familiar debate in which members largely ignored the bill at hand, and squabbled over which party is to blame for the struggling economy. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) started by saying Republicans should bring up a jobs bill rather than an education bill that is not a priority.

Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxGOP bill scraps voter registration requirements for colleges GOP looks to scrap Obama-era rule on college credit hours Veterinarians need loan forgiveness program MORE (R-N.C.) replied that the House has passed dozens of jobs bills that have not yet been acted on by the Senate. She also said unemployment started rising shortly after the Democrats took over Congress in 2008.

McGovern said the debt crisis started with the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Foxx said those tax cuts should be called the Obama-Pelosi tax cuts, since they were extended under Obama when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was still House Speaker.

Foxx also said raising taxes would not eradicate the debt, and that Obama and the Democrats never put forward a jobs bill when there were in control. McGovern said Obama had inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, and that Republicans weren't helping him find ways to create jobs.

Foxx and McGovern were the only members to speak on the rule for the bill, or on the broader issues of who or what caused the recession.