An Unending Dispute

Posted May 12, 2008 at 6:23pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is scheduled to testify this afternoon before the select committee charged with investigating an August voting snafu on the House floor.

[IMGCAP(1)]In addition to the Democratic leader, the panel will hear testimony from senior House aides and the House Parliamentarian’s Office, as well as Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.), who presided over the floor at the time of the disputed vote.

The panel is scheduled to meet today and Wednesday for public testimonies.

The Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities of Aug. 2, 2007, as the panel is formally called, has privately interviewed 21 people in recent months, but the hearing will mark the first public reviews.

According to an advance copy of his opening remarks, ranking member Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) is expected to highlight inconsistencies in testimony from lawmakers and aides, and will criticize the majority for what he calls “imperious actions” during the incident, echoing GOP complaints that sparked the panel’s creation.

The investigation is focused on a vote on a GOP-authored amendment to an Agriculture spending bill that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from accessing certain federally funded programs.

Republicans alleged that the Democratic majority mishandled the vote, resulting in the defeat of the measure. GOP leaders assert that a 214-214 tie — defeating the amendment — announced by McNulty 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 later apologized for prematurely calling the vote.

The committee is charged with issuing a final report on its investigation by Sept. 15. That document is to include recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

— Jennifer Yachnin