The Democrats appeared to be up to no good in the House last night:
In a massive flare-up of partisan tensions, Republicans walked out on a House vote late Thursday night to protest what they believed to be Democratic maneuvers to reverse an unfavorable outcome for them.
The flap represents a complete breakdown in parliamentary procedure and an unprecedented low for the sometimes bitterly divided chamber.
The rancor erupted shortly before 11 p.m. as Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) gaveled close the vote on a standard procedural measure with the outcome still in doubt.
Details remain fuzzy, but numerous Republicans argued afterward that they had secured a 215-213 win on their motion to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal funds apportioned in the agricultural spending bill for employment or rental assistance. Democrats, however, argued the measure was deadlocked at 214-214 and failed, members and aides on both sides of the aisle said afterward.
One GOP aide saw McNulty gavel the vote to a close after receiving a signal from his leaders – but before reading the official tally. And votes continued to shift even after he closed the roll call – a strange development in itself.
Whatever the final tally, acrimony quickly exploded between lawmakers on either side of the aisle as Democratic leaders tried to plot a solution, while parliamentarians on either side argued over protocol.
Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) eventually offered a motion to reconsider, according to floor staff on either side, ostensibly giving members a chance to recast their votes. But the maneuver sparked a chorus of angry protests from the Republicans, yelling “shame” on Democrats, while they returned fire with angry volleys of their own.
I am not too sure what exactly happened, and the only links at Memeorandum are from Powerline and the like- in other words, only Greater Wingnuttia® has commented, and we know their relationship to the truth.
Regardless, how soon we forget- this is neither unprecedented nor a new low. Remember this:
The 217 to 215 vote came just after midnight, in a dramatic finish that highlighted the intensity brought by both sides to the battle. When the usual 15-minute voting period expired at 11:17 p.m., the no votes outnumbered the yes votes by 180 to 175, with dozens of members undeclared. House Republican leaders kept the voting open for another 47 minutes, furiously rounding up holdouts in their own party until they had secured just enough to ensure approval…
So while I do not approve of the Democratic behavior, it is neither unprecedented nor a new low, as the Republicans have done worse with legislation that actually mattered. I guess we can blame the Democrats for learning from DeLay.
One quick note- have you noticed these things seem to happen late at night? It seems like calmer heads always lose out in these extended sessions.
*** Update ***
Both are unprecedented violations of the rules. And, arguably at least, the Democrats did it out of confusion last night. Further, the Hastert fiasco came at the cost of what amounts to bribery paid for with tax dollars.