August 2007 House voting controversy

From OpenCongress Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search


Contents

August 2007 House voting controversy

On the night of August 3, 2007, House Republicans attempted to rebuke Murtha for his actions while presiding over the House that morning. The controversy began the previous night, on August 2, when Republicans were ultimately defeated over a procedural "motion to recommit with instructions" vote on the FY2008 agriculture appropriations bill (H.R.3161).[1] The motion would have sent the spending bill back to the House Appropriations Committee, requiring the legislation to include provisions barring food stamps for illegal immigrants, before returning to the House floor.[2] GOP members contested the vote when the presiding chair, Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.), called the vote in favor of the Democrats prematurely. During the voting, three different vote tallies came up, due to members changing their votes, two having defeated the measure, and one having passed. When McNulty initially gaveled the vote to a close, stating that the motion failed 214-214, the public voting board showed a vote of 215-213, a GOP victory. Democrats then reopened the vote, persuading several colleagues to switch their votes, resulting in a final tally of 212-216, successfully blocking the measure.[3] After calling for the 215-213 vote to stand, House Republicans eventually marched out of the chamber around 11:00 PM August 2, shouting "shame, shame."[4] (You can watch the vote here)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) attempted to work out an agreement over the proper way to deal with the contested vote, both agreeing to some sort of investigative action. Boehner, however, was apparently persuaded by more conservative members of his party and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to seek confrontation through various parliamentary procedures.[5]

The following morning, August 3, Republicans attempted to protest the previous night's vote with the daily routine of verifying the previous days congressional record, but Murtha, as presiding officer, overruled a GOP request for a recorded vote on the approval procedure. Murtha apparently ignored that Republicans at the time had a majority of members then in the House chamber, which enables them to force a record vote. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) called on Murtha to explain his ruling, and Murtha responded by saying, "It is up to the chair. Let me tell you this, the vote will show that the approval would be approved by the House, as it has been."[6]

Later on the 3rd, the House unanimously passed a Republican-sponsored privileged resolution (H.Res.611) creating a bipartisan Select Committee, with subpoena power, to investigate the August 2 contested vote. Three members would be appointed by the Speaker of the House, and three by the Minority Leader.[7] The controversy continued, however, when the House voting board, which displays the status and subject of an ongoing vote, blacked out during a vote, leading to continued suspicions and accusations, and delaying the work of the house by almost an hour.[8][9] Republicans then tried to pass a second privileged resolution (H.Res.612) which would have rebuked Murtha for not showing the proper degree of respect as Speaker pro tempore to Rep. Sesenbrenner and misusing his power as chair. However, Majority Leader Hoyer sought a motion to table that second resolution. Minority Leader Boehner expressed outrage that the motion to table was brought to a vote without an hour of debate, which should have begun when Hoyer stated "Enough is enough" in response to the GOP resolutions. (Watch the video here) Democrats were able to table the resolution, claiming that Hoyer's remarks were not official since the presiding Speaker, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) had not recognized the Majority Leader. Republican members then shouted "Coverup! Coverup!" as a response to Hoyer's remarks being stricken from the record. The next day, on August 4, Democrats again tabled a resolution (H.Res.623) offered by Republicans that would have expanded the newly created Select Committee's inquiry to include the August 3 omission of Hoyer's comment.[10]

Eventually the House was able to pass a number of pieces of significant legislation before adjourning for the August recess, however not without much delay resulting from the vote contention and confrontation.[11]

On August 16, 2007, during the August congressional recess, the chairman of the House Administration Committee, Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) met with officials from the House Clerk's office to discuss the House voting board blackout on August 3. Democratic sources claimed that the failure occurred due to a disconnection of the board’s power plug. The newly created select committee to investigate the August 2 voting irregularities was scheduled to release an interim report of its findings to the House, after the recess, by September 30.[12]

Calls for investigation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) disagreed on the appropriate actions needed to be taken in the 'stolen vote' dilemma from an early August dispute over a vote on an amendment. Boehner called for the need of $1 million for professional investigative staff, consultants and other expenses. Pelosi responded to Boehner's request with, "There is no reason for this review to become protracted as the committee’s charge is limited to a very small number of matters." After rejecting a resolution asking the ethics committee to probe the vote, Republicans instead decided to create a special panel for the same purpose. Boehner insisted that the panel should review more than the vote itself and also probe the three-hour shutdown of the automatic voting system. Answers are hoped to be found by the panel by September 30th.[13]

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Alan K. Ota and Jonathan Allen, "House Republicans Try to Send Message in Final Hours of Summer Session," CQ, August 5, 2007.
  2. "Special investigation called for in House vote scuffle," Washington Post (via Kansas City Star), August 6, 2007.
  3. Jonathan Weisman and Elizabeth Williamson, "House Forms Special Panel Over Alleged Stolen Vote," Washington Post, August 4, 2007.
  4. "Special investigation called for in House vote scuffle," Washington Post (via Kansas City Star), August 6, 2007.
  5. Alan K. Ota and Jonathan Allen, "House Republicans Try to Send Message in Final Hours of Summer Session," CQ, August 5, 2007.
  6. Patrick O'Connor, "Republicans try to rebuke Murtha," Politico (The Crypt), August 3, 2007.
  7. "Special investigation called for in House vote scuffle," Washington Post (via Kansas City Star), August 6, 2007.
  8. Karissa Marcum, "After glitches, panel to issue report on House voting board on Sept. 30," The Hill, August 15, 2007.
  9. Jonathan Weisman and Elizabeth Williamson, "House Forms Special Panel Over Alleged Stolen Vote," Washington Post, August 4, 2007.
  10. Alan K. Ota and Jonathan Allen, "House Republicans Try to Send Message in Final Hours of Summer Session," CQ, August 5, 2007.
  11. Alan K. Ota and Jonathan Allen, "House Republicans Try to Send Message in Final Hours of Summer Session," CQ, August 5, 2007.
  12. Karissa Marcum, "After glitches, panel to issue report on House voting board on Sept. 30," The Hill, August 15, 2007.
  13. Alexander Bolton, "Pelosi, Boehner fight over scope of ‘stolen vote’ probe," The Hill, September 10, 2007.

External resources

External articles

Toolbox