Delahunt Says Vote Inquiry on Target

Posted September 18, 2007 at 6:32pm

Although the select committee established to investigate the August voting snafu on the House floor won’t officially meet until Thursday — just 10 days before it is due to file an interim report — the panel’s senior Democrat said it will still meet its deadline.

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) said Tuesday he anticipates the committee’s report will serve largely as an outline for the investigation, detailing the span of the inquiry as well as potential witnesses.

The interim document has a Sept. 30 deadline, but the committee is not required to submit a final report until Sept. 15, 2008.

“It’s going to be limited in its scope,” Delahunt said in reference to the Thursday meeting, which will be largely organizational.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the panel’s ranking member, added in a separate interview that the committee must take care of numerous housekeeping issues, including setting its internal rules and determining staffing levels.

“I think it will be an early test of how serious the majority is about getting to the truth,” Pence said.

The Indiana lawmaker added that he believes he and his Democratic counterpart are close in their expectations about what the initial report should contain.

“I’ve been pleased with some of the preliminary discussion I’ve had with Mr. Delahunt,” Pence said.

The six-member panel also includes Democratic Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) and Artur Davis (Ala.) and Republican Reps. Steven LaTourette (Ohio) and Kenny Hulshof (Mo.).

Although House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) requested a $1 million budget for the panel earlier this month, Democratic leadership said the committee’s budget had not been finalized as of Tuesday afternoon.

The investigation will focus on an Aug. 2 vote on a GOP-authored amendment to the Agriculture spending bill that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from accessing certain federally funded programs.

Republicans allege that the Democratic majority mishandled the vote, resulting in the defeat of the measure. GOP leaders assert that a tied 214-214 vote — rending a defeat — announced by Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.) was inaccurate and that the motion had in fact passed 215-213 as Republicans changed their votes.

But Democrats dispute that version of events, noting that their own Members were changing votes on the House floor, resulting in the final tally of 212-216. McNulty, the presiding officer at the time, later apologized for prematurely calling the vote.