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Special Committee Formed to Examine Vote Controversy

Here's an update to today's zaniness in the House regarding the disputed vote Thursday night on a Republican motion: A special committee is being formed to investigate.

In an almost unheard of maneuver, the House unanimously agreed to create a special committee -- complete with subpoena power -- to review the late night vote that Republicans claim they won, only to see their victory overruled by Democrats.

Such a special committee is the sort of thing usually reserved for critical investigations of the executive branch. For instance, the Senate established similar select committees to investigate Watergate in the early 1970s and another to investigate the Iran-Contra affair in the mid-1980s.

Some special committees are set up to examine particular issues, such as the global warming panel that Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) has chaired this year. The difference is that Markey's committee has no subpoena power nor does it have any ability to write legislation.

Today's agreement, which was approved in the early evening, came after a dramatic day of back-and-forth by House Democratic leaders, showing how the caucus's top leaders took different public approaches to the controversy.

The day began with a conciliatory gesture by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who apologized to GOP leaders in a private meeting and then again publicly on the floor.

"I don't blame the minority for being angry. ... They were being treated in a way they thought was not fair," Hoyer said on the floor. The majority leader even offered to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for an investigation, which would have been a similar probe that occurred after the now-infamous three-hour vote in November 2003 in which then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) successfully twisted enough arms to win passage of President Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan. DeLay was later admonished by the ethics panel for offering political support to the son of one retiring lawmaker in exchange for his vote on the Medicare bill.

Republicans rejected Hoyer's offer for an ethics probe. A few hours later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took a more defiant stand, apologizing for nothing. "There was no mistake made last night," Pelosi said at a press conference, saying the confusion surrounding when the vote was gaveled shut was just an "inconvenience" to the minority.

By mid-afternoon Hoyer issued a statement with a much tougher tone, calling the GOP motion the night before "redundant and superfluous"; the measure sought ban illegal immigrants from receiving food stamps. (Federal law already forbids such an occurrence, Hoyer said.) In addition, Hoyer insisted that the vote's outcome was clear.

"There is no doubt that the motion to recommit on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill was defeated last night, despite Republican claims otherwise," Hoyer said.

By the early evening, as House Minority Leader John Boehner (D-Ohio) offered a privileged resolution to create a special committee to investigate the matter, Hoyer took to the floor to accept the motion and create the panel.

By Paul Kane  |  August 3, 2007; 10:29 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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When a bunch of fools in Congress stay up all night to show that they have as much grit as the soldiers at the front and then screw it up, that's not a "Vote Controversy", that's just business as usual. A vote controversy is when there is election fraud in two successive presidential elections, committed in several states and no one has been put behind bars. When will Congress form a special committee to investigate that while the perpetrators can still be prosecuted?

Posted by: David Yates | August 4, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

Boehner is a Republican, not Democrat. Sheesh.

Posted by: capemh | August 4, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Some pepole can never admit they lost the election because they ran a moron as a candidate. More voters preferred Bush...Move On.

Posted by: roneida | August 4, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

David Yates,Only two straight elections with election fraud? When you make such a silly one sided comment, it makes one think that only the right is crooked. It makes you no better than those you support if you justify bad behavior by pointing to worse behavior. The problem is that nobody seems to point out that they are all crooked. Should the House really be divided nearly 50/50 on whether or not we should give benefits to illegal aliens? If this congress really "represents the people", please find me 160 million legal, American taxpayers who would give their hard earned money to illegals! What a joke!

Posted by: Tom | August 4, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

It should be noted that the global warming committee does, in fact, have subpoena power.

Posted by: Eben | August 4, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Romper room politics at its most pathetic.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | August 4, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Of course it's Romper Room! Did you expect something else when Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House?

Posted by: Tom | August 4, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Another waste of our tax money to investigate a vote that was close. Instead of focusing on the real problems facing the country, they are nitpicking one vote on an agricultural bill. It is time for Congress to start behaving like adults instead of whining about how stressful it is to work in D.C. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen permanently.

Posted by: afam212 | August 4, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"please find me 160 million..." -- There are a lot fewer than 320 million taxpayers in the U.S.; I'm a legal American taxpayer who will happily pay higher taxes for foodstamps that help ensure that poor children get the nutrition they need, regardless of whether their parents are here legally or not. I suppose the jerk who'd rather starve the children to prove a point is happy that his taxes are routinely given to millionaires like David Letterman in the form of farm subsidies (the part of the Agriculture bill that people SHOULD be paying attention to)...

Posted by: Prometheus | August 4, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"Some pepole can never admit they lost the election because they ran a moron as a candidate."

Yeah, but then they got the Supreme Court to appoint him Preznit anyway.

Posted by: TheRealCal Gal | August 4, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Republicans locked minority party Democrats out of decision making for six years. Any time Dems tried to strongly voice an opinion, they were labeled "obstructionists" and threatened with being "nuked." Now that the Cons are the minority, they obstruct every chance they get so they can "catapult the propaganda" that Dems are a "do nothing" Congress. I guess Cons forgot they were the "rubber stamp culture of corruption" Congress. They want an investigation over the vote to deny food to hungry children because they're used to getting their way, and can't work or play well with others. What a joke. Republicans have the moral authority of Nazi sympathizers as they enabled the disintegration of the Constitution and Bill of Rights with illegal spying, to name just one item . While America was terrorized from within by neocon forces hellbent on going to war for profit, they acquiesced. When two presidential elections were manipulated in favor of Cons, their greedy sense of entitlement kicked in as their patriotism vanished on corporate junkets. But hey, they showed how compassionate they can be when the Terry Schiavo case presented itself, didn't they? Too bad that same compassion didn't raise its head when Hurricane Katrina hit. Republicans had one mandate when they were the majority party- do the bidding of Cheney/Bush. Their mandate now is to make the Democrats look foolish, keep the war going indefinitely, keep selling us out to corporate interests, and find a way to steal the next election. Maybe Executive Order 51 will do it for them. Or another 911 style attack. Republicans in Congress have an abysmal record which they can not escape. We knew they wouldn't go down without a fight, but that hysterical scene after the vote ended and demands for investigations? When Republicans had all the power, they lorded it over the Democrats like tyrants. It is no surprise they now act like sore losers.I expected no less.

Posted by: gagamac | August 4, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me while I get my copy of the World's Tiniest Violin while I play for the downtrodden Republicans in the House. For 6 years they made sure the Democrats hade absolutely no voice, and now that theirs is being hushed they cry foul.
Well, as they say, it takes one to know one. It sounds pretty clear like the Republicans know all too well what might have happened, because they've done it before.

Posted by: Ethan Q | August 5, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse

I watched that vote on the House Floor (agriculture appropriations bill) and it was appalling and disgusting to watch. It was so clear that food stamps and housing for illegal aliens were voted down as the aye votes came in that "prohibited" that from happening. One could certainly hear that clearly - and then the gavel being struck! Apologies are not in order nor should that vote stand.

There's a lot more included in the farm bill coming up in September than gifting large millionaire agri-business farmers millions of taxpayer dollars. There's also H.R.371, S.237 and S.340 agriculural amnesty....with big moneyed agri-business wanting to be taken "off the hook" for housing and transportation for their workers. The AgJobs Amnesty starting with a blue card for 150 hours of work, has that path for citizenship in it too which is far from temporary or guest-worker-like... We already have a temporary agricultural guest worker program, H2A as well as 7 other guest worker programs used to slip into country and steal American jobs. We don't have enough agricultural worker because illegal aliens use it as a gateway stealing American jobs. Amnesty begets amnesty, temporary means temporary and illegal is illegal. H2A, the temporary agricultural program for over a million legal immigrants is more than we need. I have no problem with legal immigrants getting into a temporary agricultural program to work in that industry and to return home at the end of that period, together with employer verifications.
Revere 101

Posted by: revere101 | August 5, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

republicans denied the dems a voice in congress?? i see it is not only professional democrats who lie. i am shaking my head in amazement, wondering when the dems will ever grow up and become respectable adults in this society. alas, not in my lifetime.

Posted by: agarwaen | August 6, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

That the issue ever arose about the integrity of a vote is evidence of congressional leadership that has become sloppy. Shame on Pelosi.. la stupida!

Angelo Campanella.

Posted by: Angelo Campanella | August 6, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I sued Nancy in Federal Court regarding this incident.

Posted by: Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. | August 7, 2007 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Of the sixteen responses posted; four neutral, seven liberal and 5 conservative, the liberals have it 4 to 0 in name calling (see moron, jerk, Nazi and greedy).

Posted by: gerrypooh | August 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Congress needs to continue investigations (even as chaotic & ineffectual as the process often seems) into violations of Constitutional Law by the Bush Administration.

This has been the most corrupt administration ever to darken the halls of the White House. Violations of Constitional Law by this bunch of pirates to include torture, violations of prisoner rights, suspension of Habeas Corpus, warrantless wiretapping & monitoring of Internet by Americans, ect. must all be properly & thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authorities & those responsible for this government sponsored corruption must be brought to the bar of justice regardless of their position. If not, this corruption will be seen as precedent setting by future Administrations be they Republican, Democratic or whatever.

Posted by: book134 | August 27, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

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