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Hoyer Testifies on 'Stolen Vote'

In an apparently unprecedented session, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) testified this afternoon before the special committee that was set up to investigate whether Democrats "stole" a controversial House vote last August.

The vote in question was on a Republican motion to bar illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. The tally was very close, and in the end Democrats announced that the measure had failed, even though it appeared several members on both sides were in the midst of changing their votes. Republican believe the vote was actually in their favor when the gavel came down.

Capitol Briefing colleague Jonathan Weisman wrote in this morning's Post that Hoyer was in "for what Republicans insist will be the Maryland Democrat's comeuppance." Well, there didn't appear to be any such comeuppance for Hoyer or anyone else at today's proceedings. The catchily-named ""Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities of August 2, 2007" got deep into the weeds of House procedure, specifically on how votes are counted and who decides when the vote is over.

Hoyer appeared for over an hour, and four members were present to question him, but the real star of the show was this six-minute video, a highlight reel from that fateful night last summer:

Seems pretty tame, doesn't it? But the members and witnesses present today broke it down like it was the Zapruder film, playing and replaying it, pausing to label the main characters, enhancing the audio, and so on. The committee did not, in fact, conclude that anyone cast a vote from the grassy knoll. Instead, members focused on the chaos evident on the floor that night, a potentially missing "tally sheet" (don't ask) and whether Hoyer "pressured" Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.), who was in the Speaker's chair that night, to end the vote prematurely.

Handling much of the questioning for the Democratic side today, Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.) asked Hoyer why he thought the GOP had so forcefully pressed for an investigation that has taken several months and nearly a half million dollars to conduct. "Do you suspect it's politics?" Davis asked.

"There's no doubt in my mind that it's politics," Hoyer said, explaining that he believed Republicans were still angry at criticism they received from Democrats on procedural issues back when they controlled the House.

Hoyer did allow, as he has before, that he understood the GOP's frustration that the vote was called as a loss for their side even as the House's electronic vote board seemed to show them winning. "The minority was rightfully angry and upset by that disparity, by that contradiction," he said.

But Republicans made clear they believed last August's vote was most certainly a big deal, worth the time, worth the money and worth the effort to break down that night's events almost second-by-second. The special committee's top Republican, Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), said in his opening statement that the disputed event "was a dark moment in the history of the United States House of Representatives and must never be allowed to happen again."

It's not clear what this investigation will yield once it's all over (another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday). Most likely, the committee will recommend more transparency in the way votes are conducted. Republicans will argue this fall that Democrats have been unfair and abused their power, just as Democrats said of the GOP in 2006. And then everyone will go back to their regular jobs, most of which don't involve exhaustive forensic analysis of C-SPAN tapes.

By Ben Pershing  |  May 13, 2008; 9:25 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , Ethics and Rules , Hearing Watch , House  
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Comments

BEN'S ARTICLE FAILED TO SAY THAT BY LOSING THE VOTE - LOOKED STOLEN TO ME - THE FUNDING FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS PASSED AND WILL NOW BE EXTRACTED FROM TAX PAYER POCKETS. I FEAR THIS IS ONLY ONE OF MANY PLOYS THE DEMOCRATS WILL USE TO CEMENT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ILLEGALS AT OUR EXPENSE, THEREBY GUARANTEEING A HUNDRED YEARS OF LIBERAL RULE. WE JUST WON'T BE ABLE TO OUT-PROPAGATE 'EM AND THE DEMS SURE WON'T SEND 'EM PACKING. I WEEP FOR THE FUTURE, MR. HOYER AND MS PELOSI. AT LEAST CLINTON BIT HIS LOWER LIP AND CLAIMED TO "FEEL MY PAIN". YOU TWO ARE NUMB TO EVERYTHING BUT HOLDING ON TO POWER. CHOKE ON IT!

Posted by: DAVID D. | May 13, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I believe that any legislator who have prostituted their vote to enrich themselves or their Corporate pimps should be charged with felonies. Add to that any lies from the Neo Con infested Executive Branch. And ANY official in the Executive Branch who has any financial investments in any company or corporation. Including the morally, ethically and legally bankrupt as well as Conflciat of Interest and Collusion challenged United States Supreme Court justice.
Add to that Any Neo Con Think Tank who had participated in this Treasonous activity.
Do to these Treasonous Neo Nazis what happens to any Traitors in Wartime! I'll help!

Posted by: CurtJ | May 13, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is Simply. Painful.

They will investigate this but not Iraq no-bid cost-plus contracting of Blackwater mercenaries. People are so tired of this BS.

Posted by: F&B | May 13, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I guess maybe we should look back on the seniors' drug benefit vote. You do realize republicans held the vote open for hours while twisting arms in order to get it passed. One of the main issues was the government could not negotiate drug prices, the drug companies could charge what they want. This was of great benefit to the friends of republicans, and of course totally abandon the idea of a free market ( they hate welfare unless it goes to big business ). The original cost of the program according to Bush - $400 B - the admitted possible cost ( by the administration ) $534 B - the admitted likely cost ( by the administration ) $1.2 TRILLION.

Posted by: gregory zurbay | May 14, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

How can anybody but a stalwart Republican believe the Republican outrage or take it seriously as anything other than insider's low political sniping. As the comment above says, the 3+ hours when the vote was kept open by the GOP to pass the Medicare drug bill using falsified cost estimates that were hundreds of billions of dollars below the known real cost - now that was vile.
The cases of meaningful abuse of power by the ridiculously smug and corrupt GOP in power for now far too many years are vast - shall we list them all? Refusing to provide any justice for the hundreds of American women (and others) raped by Americans not subject to any law anywhere, Blackwater murders, $9 Billion in fresh US dollars disappearing from Iraq with no records or investigation please. The GOP today is just a bunch of thugs all tied together and raping our history, reputation, Constitution and checks and balances for their benefit. Do a Wikipedia lookup of fascism and you have the system the GOP uses today. Don't be shy, just read the definition and think for a moment about whether it is a false or shockingly true comparison. And the trains don't even run on time.

But people are fed up everywhere and we independents are the new guardians of what we have had and will have again. We are honest, non-partisan, and seek truth over cant, and results over BS. Democrats also have their problems, but the GOP scandals, deceits, abuses, corruption and manipulation as so cynical that it is impossible for a Republican today to be an honest person. If you love the old GOP prior to Reagan, then just vote against your party to cleanse it of its Franco or Salazar like extremes.

Posted by: enough3 | May 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The Medicare prescription drug vote fiasco indirectly caused a lot of the problems here. As noted above, that vote was an exercise in raw power by teh Republicans and un unprecedented abuse.

In response, teh new Congress passed a new rule that prohibited keeping a vote open just so that the outcome could be changed by vote-switchers (to prevent the amazing strong-arm tactics used back in 2003). This caused significant and real problems here.

Apparently, there were Republicans that wanted to switch their votes, and if allowed it would have changed the outcome (assuming no Democrats then switched to change it back). The result was confusion.

After the vote was closed and teh problems became clear, Hoyer offered to RE-DO THE VOTE (i.e. vacate the problematic vote and do it over), but the REPUBLICANS REFUSED. Clearly, hoping to pump up some kind of scandal was far more important to them than the vote itself.

Posted by: facts | May 14, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Republicans in Congress and the White House have no credibility at all after using the authority of their offices to regularly deceive the public and plunder America. They should all be in prison!

Posted by: Chuck | May 14, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The lasting legacy of this corrupt administration will be seen in the courts. The brazen attempt to pack the judicial system with corrupt judges willing to prostitute themselves for their corporate sponsors will have to work itself out over the years. Arlen Specter and John Cornyn and their corporate thugs have outdone themselves. They will go down in history as traitors to this country but it will take a long time to repair the damage in our already slow justice system.

"Corporatism should be more accurately defined as Fascism as it is the merging of state and corporate power."------Benito Mussolini

Posted by: Farmer | May 15, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"Corporatism should be more accurately defined as Fascism as it is the merging of state and corporate power."------Benito Mussolini

Kudos to "Farmer" for his excellent post. It should be noted that the "merging of state and corporate power" go a long way back in U.S. history -- but one of the most naked examples is the CIA-backed overthrow of the democratically elected Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954 -- in express support of United Fruit.

We went to Guatemala for bananas and we went to Iraq for oil. Simple as that. Corporate interests rule American foreign policy.

Posted by: radlib1 | May 16, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

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