Congressional Quarterly seems to have the definitive article on the furor in the House the other night. They lead with the news of a 'ceasefire,' but later confirm that the vote ought to have been a Republican win.
The piece leads with the creation of a bipartisan select committee to investigate the contested vote, and then retraces what happened:
The panel would be directed to make an interim report to the House by Sept. 30 and to deliver a final report by Sept. 15, 2008. The resolution also instructs officers of the House to preserve documents and recordings related to the vote in question. The panel, made up of three appointees of the Speaker and three of the minority leader, would have the power to subpoena documents and testimony.Roll Call has a piece from yesterday afternoon, which shows that the compromise on a select committee followed some brinkmanship between Speaker Pelosi and the Republican minority:
Earlier, Hoyer took the floor to apologize for the way the entire series of votes was handled, as did Michael R.McNulty, D-N.Y., who had been presiding over the House when the furor erupted.
“The minority was understandably angry,” Hoyer said. Speaking quietly, he sought to lower the temperature a bit.
Republicans accused Democrats of using the kind of heavy-handed tactics that Democrats had assailed when the GOP ran the House. The late-night exchange featured a heated exchange between former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Hoyer.
And on a video replay of the night’s action, Hoyer can be heard saying, “We control this House, not the parliamentarians!”
Democratic House leaders dismissed Republican assertions Friday that the majority altered the outcome of a vote on the chamber’s floor, and rejected demands to return a disputed spending bill to committee, characterizing the request as “frivolous.”CQ though, says pretty clearly that it did change the outcome:
“There was no mistake made last night,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a Friday press conference.
The Californian described the incident Thursday — in which Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.) allegedly announced a vote count before some Members had completed changing their ballots, leading Republicans and Democrats to differ on whether the measure had passed — as a “misunderstanding” and an “inconvenience.”
“It did not change the outcome of the vote,” she said.
The floor confusion arose when, with the tally tied at 214-214, two politically vulnerable Democrats, Nick Lampson of Texas and Harry E. Mitchell of Arizona, went to the well of the chamber to switch their votes to “no.” The buddy system would prevent Democrats who voted “no” from being targeted as the deciding vote in future campaign ads. Moments later, three Cuban-American Republicans from south Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, moved to change their votes to “aye.”It was after this according to CQ, that Democrats switched votes to secure a 'win:'
The five vote switches were called out by the House reading clerk. The two Democratic changes put the tally at 212-216. Ros-Lehtinen’s switch made it 213-215. Lincoln Diaz-Balart evened it at 214-214, but a tie vote fails. As the reading clerk called out Mario Diaz-Balart’s new vote, the Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Michael R. McNulty, D-N.Y., banged the gavel, apparently unaware that the second Diaz-Balart’s vote had yet to be counted.
McNulty had his eyes on the electronic scoreboard, which still read 214-214. But almost as soon as the gavel came down, the scoreboard registered Mario Diaz-Balart’s vote, pushing the tally to 215-213. The scoreboard showed those numbers and the word “FINAL.”
Within a minute or so, a flurry of post-gavel vote switches by Reps. Zack Space of Ohio, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jerry McNerney of California — resulted in an official outcome of 212-216. Boehner was observed switching his vote — a common way to preserve the right to seek reconsideration, and an aide confirmed that the tally board at that point should have read 211-217.This will be uncomfortable for Democratic House leaders. CQ is a non-partisan publication with no ax to grind. If their account is accurate, then the GOP's misdirection tactics secured them a win that got taken away after the gavel came down.
“Shame! Shame!” Republicans chanted across the aisle. Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., thumped the seat of a chair in rhythm with the chant. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, repeatedly covered his mouth with his hand, pretended to cough and bellowed a barnyard epithet.
McNulty, whom Democrats often tap to preside over contentious debates, could be heard on television insisting “I called it 214-214.”
We'll see how it gets portrayed in the broader media.
Update: Check out my thoughts on how to proceed over here.