Democratic leaders’ repeated manipulation of the August 2 House vote Republicans apparently won was so severe it could justify censure or removal of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer and of New York’s Michael McNulty, the presiding member at the time of the vote.
That night, in a supposedly-recorded House vote, Republicans defeated — by 215-213 — a measure Democrats desperately wanted to ensure that welfare benefits would continue to flow to illegal aliens. The vote was reopened to allow Members to change their votes. When the Cong. Mike McNulty struck the gavel again, the vote was a 214-214 tie. Under the rules of the House, tie votes are a win for the Democratic majority.
According to a source close to the Select Committee’s investigation, “And frankly if you played the tape, that’s what it looked like. On closer examination, believe it or not it’s actually worse.” House Democrats running the Select Committee are very uneasy that — in its first day of hearings — the investigation revealed that not only was the vote reopened improperly, but that once reopened, it was then closed early to cut off timely Republican votes in order to produce the tie.
House Rule XX requires that, “…the Clerk shall conduct a vote or quorum call by electronic device. In such a case the Clerk shall enter on the Journal and publish in the Congressional Record, in alphabetical order in each category, the names of the Members recorded as voting in the affirmative, the names of Members recorded as voting in the negative, and the names of Members answering present as if they had been called in the manner provided.”
What the Democrats apparently did — as seen in the videotape — is as precise a violation of that rule as could be planned.
House procedures require the Clerk to prepare a score card called a “tally sheet” recording the vote, which is certified by the Clerk as fair and proper under the rules. The tally sheet is handed to the Speaker or Speaker Pro Tem who then announces the result of the vote. In the September 27 House Select Committee hearing the Clerk of the House testified under oath that there was no “tally sheet” — the means by which the Clerk records the electronic vote on either vote — when the Republicans won at 215-213 and when they lost on the 214-214 tie.
Why were there no written records of the vote? Who ordered the Clerk to not prepare the normal tally sheets? The Republicans on the Select Committee will insist on finding the answers to those questions.
But those are relatively minor compared to the prime issue: two votes on the House floor were apparently manipulated to prevent a win by Republicans.
The second vote, which so far has not been the focus of much attention, appears to have been closed early at a moment when three Republican members were approaching the podium to change their votes and ensure that the Republicans had won again.
The source close to the Select Committee investigation told me that when the Republicans were ahead the second time around by 214-213 votes, the Democratic leaders brought Speaker Pelosi down to vote it into a tie. At that moment, the vote stood at 214-214.
But at about the same time Pelosi voted, three Florida Republicans — Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen — were walking up to the podium to change their votes which would have resulted in another Republican win. Before they could vote, McNulty struck the gavel again, resulting in the 214-214 Republican defeat.
According to my source:
“At that point, the Parliamentarian is shaking his head, “no.” It’s not a closed vote. And then [Majority Leader, Maryland Congressman] Steny Hoyer can be seen coming up, pointing his finger into the chest of the Parliamentarian and he can be heard saying, ‘We run this House, not the Parliamentarians’.” [Hoyer’s angry finger pointing and chastising of the Parliamentarian begin about 53 seconds into this video.]
The source told me that the Democrats wanted to close the vote down after Speaker Pelosi voted, “…and the Parliamentarian, seeing members coming to the podium said, you can’t shut the vote down, there are members trying to vote.”
When the fact of the second manipulation was raised in the September 27 Select Committee hearing, the source told me, “…two Democrats on the committee got awfully jumpy and said, that’s an issue of disputed fact…and it suggested that they’re jumpy about the fact that most of the news reporting has been about the one time they did it.”
Hoyer’s apparently successful intimidation of the Parliamentarian is a matter of public record, but other records — such as the Congressional Record of the night’s proceedings — have apparently been altered. The Democrats have good reason to worry. What will they do?
My source said, “I have a feeling that they are going to have to stonewall and circle the wagons before this thing is over because I think they have a pretty serious problem.”
The name synonymous with municipal corruption — William Marcy “Boss” Tweed — was the boss of the Tammany Hall Democratic machine that looted New York in the years after the Civil War. Tweed was guilty of, among other things, manipulating city-wide votes by using corrupt police to intimidate voters. When the Tweed Ring was broken, the Boss went to jail. None of the Democratic leaders will go to jail for the manipulated votes, but they may lose their jobs.
The final report of the Select Committee may find facts that justify censure or removal from leadership positions of Pelosi, Hoyer and McNulty.
Nancy Pelosi’s term as Speaker began with the promise of the most “open and honest Congress in history.” Will House Democrats — especially those “blue dogs’ and vulnerable incumbents — let the new “Tweed Ring” in the House expose them to voters’ anger?