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Reply #22: Dems held a vote open once in '87 [View All]

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Rose Siding Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-13-04 08:17 PM
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22. Dems held a vote open once in '87
The repubs freaked. Even Gingrich refused to do it. Now, it happens a lot- gives the leadership time to threaten the careers of members families.

Nancy's unglued because they'd just done it again. I had no idea how fringe this tactic was until I read this- 'Tapped' posted a great article on 'tone' written by a conservative who is ticked about this-

snip>

In the 22 years that Democrats ran the House after the electronic voting system was put in place, there was only one time when the vote period substantially exceeded the 15 minutes. At the end of the session in 1987, under Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, the vote on the omnibus budget reconciliation bill--a key piece of legislation--was one vote short of passage when one of the bill's supporters, Marty Russo of Illinois, took offense at something, changed his vote to no, and left to catch a plane to his home district in Chicago. He was unaware that his switch altered the ultimate outcome. Caught by surprise, Wright kept the vote tally open for an extra 15 to 20 minutes until one of his aides could find another member, fellow Texan Jim Chapman, and draw him out of the cloakroom to change his nay vote to aye and pass the bill. Republicans went ballistic, using the example for years as evidence of Democrats' autocratic style and insensitivity to rules and basic fairness.

In 1995, soon after the Republicans gained the majority, Speaker Newt Gingrich declared his intention to make sure that votes would consistently be held in the 15-minute time frame. The "regular practice of the House," he said would be "a policy of closing electronic votes as soon as possible after the guaranteed period of 15 minutes." The policy was reiterated by Speaker Dennis J. Hastert when he assumed the post.

But faced with a series of tough votes and close margins, Republicans have ignored their own standards and adopted a practice that has in fact become frequent during the Bush presidency, of stretching out the vote when they were losing until they could twist enough arms to prevail. On at least a dozen occasions, they have gone well over the 15 minutes, sometimes up to an hour.

The Medicare prescription drug vote--three hours instead of 15 minutes, hours after a clear majority of the House had signaled its will--was the ugliest and most outrageous breach of standards in the modern history of the House. It was made dramatically worse when the speaker violated the longstanding tradition of the House floor's being off limits to lobbying by outsiders (other than former members) by allowing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on the floor during the vote to twist arms--another shameful first.

http://www.aei.org/news/newsID.19527,filter./news_detai...

here's the link to Tapped's write up (July 13- 3:22 post)-

http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2004/07/index.h...

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