‘Stolen Vote’ Panel Won’t Meet Deadline

Posted September 12, 2008 at 5:57pm

The select committee charged with investigating an August 2007 voting snafu on the House floor will not meet its deadline to issue a final report today.

Panel chairman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and ranking member Mike Pence (R-Ind.) entered a statement in the Congressional Record on Thursday announcing it would miss the Sept. 15 deadline.

“While the select committee will not be able to file its report by that [due] date, we expect to file the report shortly thereafter,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities of August 2, 2007, as the panel is formally called, spent more than a year conducting an extensive investigation. That investigation included reviewing House rules and procedures, as well as interviews with House officers, staff and Members, and several pub- lic hearings.

Despite clear partisan divisions over the disputed vote — at a hearing in May, Republicans sought to demonstrate that Democrats had intentionally violated House rules during the incident, while Democrats sought to frame the event as a singular mistake — Delahunt said Thursday he believes an agreement is imminent.

“I think we’re very close, and most likely what we’ll do is seek a brief extension, and we’ll come in with a product that will be a bipartisan single document,” Delahunt said, adding that the committee should complete its work this month.

“It’s more language at this point and emphasis as opposed to disagreement,” he said.

In addition to issuing a report on the affair, the panel is charged with issuing recommendations for any relevant rules or procedural changes to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“I expect that the recommendations will have broad support,” Delahunt said.

He declined to detail what the panel will advocate, but he noted that the panel had raised concerns over a House rule that governs the length of votes.

That measure, House Rule XX Clause 2(a), was adopted at the start of the 110th Congress in an effort to end the practice of prolonging floor votes specifically to affect their outcome. Democrats authored the measure in response to the now-infamous Medicare Part D vote that Republicans held open for three hours to ensure passage while they were in the majority.

Any rules changes would require a formal vote by the House.

The investigation is focused on an Aug. 2, 2007, vote on a GOP-authored amendment to the 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 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 later apologized for prematurely calling the vote.