Special Committee Formed to Examine Vote Controversy
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.
August 3, 2007; 10:29 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: The House Fades into "Blue Screen" as Chaos Reigns
Next: "Enough" Already, House Still in Political Quagmire
Posted by: David Yates | August 4, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: capemh | August 4, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: roneida | August 4, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tom | August 4, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Eben | August 4, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Patrick Huss | August 4, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tom | August 4, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: afam212 | August 4, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Prometheus | August 4, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TheRealCal Gal | August 4, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gagamac | August 4, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Ethan Q | August 5, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: revere101 | August 5, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: agarwaen | August 6, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Angelo Campanella | August 6, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. | August 7, 2007 3:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gerrypooh | August 7, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: book134 | August 27, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.