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Animal House
Posted by: McQ on Monday, August 06, 2007

What is up with the House of Representatives? John Fund discusses a rather interesting event from last week:
The House of Representatives almost turned into the Fight Club Thursday night, when Democrats ruled that a GOP motion had failed even though, when the gavel fell, the electronic score board showed it winning 215-213 along with the word FINAL. The presiding officer, Rep. Mike McNulty (D., N.Y.), actually spoke over the clerk who was trying to announce the result.

In the ensuing confusion several members changed their votes and the GOP measure to deny illegal aliens benefits such as food stamps then trailed 212-216. Boiling-mad Republicans stormed off the floor. The next day, their fury increased when they learned electronic records of the vote had disappeared from the House's voting system.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi made matters worse when she told reporters, "There was no mistake made last night." Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to rescue her by acknowledging that, while he thought no wrongdoing had occurred, the minority party was "understandably angry." Under pressure, the House unanimously agreed to create a select committee, with subpoena powers, to investigate Republican charges the vote had been "stolen."
Now frankly, I don't blame the Republicans for being 'boiling mad' about this apparent theft of a vote. I say apparent because the board where votes are tallied had declared the vote 'final' and that vote said that the Repubican backed amendment which had denied welfare benefits to illegal aliens had passed.

But it hadn't according to Democratic leadership. In fact, as Fund notes, the presiding officer simply talked over the clerk announcing the results and essentially changed the outcome. Republicans were understandably incensed and actually walked out of the House in protest.

It's not like they, the Republicans, ever used their majority position to ram things through with cute parliamentary tricks, but this seems to go beyond parliamentary tricks to outright abuse of power.

Oh for the days when Nancy Pelosi, who promised the best run House in history, was so in favor of minority rights:
"When we are shut out, they are shutting out the great diversity of America," Pelosi said in an interview. "We want a return to civility; we want to set a higher standard."
Yeah, well, so much for that.

In fact, when quoted above (2004), Pelosi had submitted a minority bill of rights that called on the Republican leadership of the House to respect those rights. Naturally, the Republicans ignored her. So while the present Republican outrage is understandable, they've pretty well made their own bed in terms of "minority" access. That, however, doesn't excuse the Democrats for going beyond even that level of partisanship to outright abuse and, some would say, fraud.
"The headiness of power has gotten to these guys more quickly than I would have expected," Ornstein said.
That was Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the moderate-to-conservative American Enterprise Institute talking about the Republicans in 2004. Seems that it is equally applicable to House Democrats in 2007, doesn't it?

Nice job, Nancy.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

It’s not like they, the Republicans, ever used their majority position to ram things through with cute parliamentary tricks, but this seems to go beyond parliamentary tricks to outright abuse of power.
I think you meant "never".
Written By: MichaelW
Ornstein’s actually a Democrat (he along with Ben Wattenberg and one or two other Fellows at AEI). Makes the analysis all the more biting.
Written By: Sean
This probably could have happened under either party, but in a way I’m glad that it happened under the Dems. We might get a blog post or two on it, chuckle, and move on. If it had been the GOP, we would have to hear hysteria from the moonbatosphere and the MSM for months, if not years, about the "shredding of the Constitution", with all the obligatory Hitler/Nazi comparisons.
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Diebold strikes again. Don’t they have a paper trail?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Lost in all of this is that the Dems were voting to kill an ammendment that would STOP illegal aliens from getting benefits.


Written By: shark
URL: http://
I have to admit I’m still a little bit confused about this little "parliamentary trick". The party in power in the House gets to call a vote for one side or the other before the results are announced, if they can manage to bang the gavel before the announcement and speak louder than the person reading off the results of the vote? I didn’t realize that was a "parliamentary trick" that could be used in the House. Why didn’t the Republicans (and the Democrats before them, and the Republicans before them) use this to just pass whatever the hell they want through the House? Why do we even bother taking votes?

This just flies in the face of everything I learned in civics class.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
I have to admit I’m still a little bit confused about this little "parliamentary trick".
That’s the problem here Hermit, this went beyond "parliamentary trickery" and is being characterized as outright fraud. That’s the uproar. Reps can’t really whine to much about trickery given their recent past record in that regard, but fraud? Well, that’s a horse of a different color.
Written By: McQ
So if it’s fraud then, surely there’s some sort of check or balance other than the Congress investigating itself with a bipartisan commission wherein half the commissioners will, surprise surprise, conclude that there was no fraud? Surely there’s some remedy outside of throwing all the bums out of office, or at least all the bums who can’t manage to pass this bumminess off as the lesser of two evils? Who’s watching these people?
Written By: Wacky Hermit
It’s not like they, the Republicans, ever used their majority position to ram things through with cute parliamentary tricks, but this seems to go beyond parliamentary tricks to outright abuse of power.
It was vote fraud if it were anything but utterly accidental, and incompetence of the first order if it were—and then there is no explanation for not repeating the vote, if only to smooth ruffled feathers.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
Written By: Tom Perkins

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