As Congress returns this week, Republicans are ready to pick up where we left off when August recess began last month. From fighting for lower taxes to insisting on more restrained federal spending to giving our troops the support they need to wage and win the War on Terrorism, we’re ready to continue working on the most important priorities facing the American people. At the same time, we also return to Washington with some unfinished business leftover from before the August recess: continuing to hold congressional Democrats accountable for the most egregious action of their short-lived majority — or any House majority for that matter…a stolen vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
For years, congressional Democrats have thrown up obstacle after obstacle to combating illegal immigration. This year alone, they’ve cut funding for the border fence we approved in the last Congress and slowed its construction dramatically. And they’ve passed a costly bill that would force American taxpayers to foot the bill for illegal immigrants’ health insurance. But right before the August recess, they succeeded in thwarting efforts to fight illegal immigration in a way that I never imagined they could. They stole an illegal immigration vote. To refresh your memory, here’s how it happened:
On the night of August 2, the House was voting on a Republican motion to deny taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants as part of an annual agricultural spending bill. When the chair gaveled the vote, we clearly prevailed 215-213. This was clear on the electronic tally board inside the chamber, and this was clear to those watching on C-SPAN. However, in what I described to my colleagues as “the legislative equivalent of the ‘shot heard ’round the world,’” Democrats strong-armed the House parliamentarians to back down from the initial vote tally and forced several of its own Members to change their votes.
In spite of the fact that the vote clearly showed we won 215-213 as time expired on the vote — and after the gavel plainly indicated the vote was closed — the result changed, and our motion to stop the Democratic majority from giving taxpayer dollars to individuals who violate the laws of our country was “defeated.” As if this wasn’t bad enough, all electronic records of the vote have since disappeared. So too did a written account in the Congressional Record of a debate I had with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on the House floor the following evening, in which the Democrats blatantly cut off debate — a willful disregard for the rules of the House. And mysteriously enough, the day after the stolen vote, the House electronic voting system failed altogether for several hours.
When the eyes of the nation turned to the stolen vote and its fallout, House Democrats began to feel the heat, and eventually, after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling, they gave in to Republican demands for an evenly-divided, Watergate-style special committee to investigate the entire matter. The reason I felt so strongly about demanding this investigative panel instead of simply making noise about the stolen vote is because I believe if the integrity and accountability of a vote cannot be guaranteed in the House of Representatives, then it simply cannot be guaranteed anywhere. And clearly, under this Democratic majority, it cannot be guaranteed in the House — so we have no choice but to act. You see, this vote was not just stolen from us, as House Republicans; it was stolen from the American people, who pay billions in taxes each year — much of which ends up in the hands of illegal immigrants. That is what we were trying to stop, and that is what the Democrats had to steal a vote to keep from happening.
Today, we named our three Republican Members of this six-Member panel: Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN.), who will serve as the Ranking Republican Member of the committee, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO). Mike, Steve, and Kenny are ideal choices for this panel. They are fair-minded, they are dedicated to doing their jobs with integrity, and most importantly, they will not back down should their Democratic counterparts attempt to slow or obfuscate the work of the committee.
The investigators are tasked with three main duties: (1) to get to the bottom of the fraud we encountered in the well of the House of Representatives; (2) to answer the questions that need to be answered to preserve the integrity of the institution of the House; and (3) to recommend any changes that may be necessary to ensure this never happens again. The committee will make public its preliminary findings by September 30 of this year, so the six Members on the panel will need to get to work very quickly — and for good reason. We have the obligation to ensure that no such injustice takes place in the House again, and the American people are watching.
House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) has introduced a resolution to restore our victory on the agricultural spending bill — complete with language that would bar taxpayer dollars going to illegal immigrants. He has my complete support. And so too does the select committee’s critical work. Try as they might to sweep this under the rug, House Democrats will not be able to escape the events of August 2. This stolen vote was an assault never before seen in congressional history, and to restore some semblance of trust to our institution, Republicans will hold them responsible for stealing this vote from the American people so it never, ever is allowed to occur again.