What should have been a relatively uneventful closing two days before Congress’s August recess has turned into one very large mess – and it now looks like that recess may not happen as planned, thanks to President Bush.
Its all a little confusing as to what happened last night, but one thing is clear: the Republicans staged a walk-out after a controversial vote. From what I have heard and seen, the vote was a move by Republicans to send a farm bill back to committee to ensure that no illegal immigrants would receive benefits provided for in the bill. The Democrats opposed the measure, and that resulted in an extremely close vote.
The controversy revolves around the results of that vote. There is a large electronic screen in the House Chamber that keeps track of votes – and it showed the vote going in favor of the GOP by a slim margin of 215-213. The Congressman who was calling the vote, however, called it a tie, 214-214. Since tie votes always go to the majority party – in thise case the DNC, that call handed the Republicans a defeat. The GOP felt cheated, and, in protest, stormed out – ending the session for the night.
Today is supposed to be the last day before the August recess, but now it looks like, unless the Congress can move extremely quickly, that recess is not going to happen. The reason? President Bush wants the wiretapping law re-written, and has told Congress to stay in session until they deliver a bill to his desk. The Constitution does allow for the President to call a Special Session, but I’m not sure if what he said today was a binding order or simply a request.
I’ll keep an eye on both stories, and let you know what is going on.