This was a vote on overriding the president’s veto of legislation requiring courts to recognize out-of-state notaries (notaries performed outside of the state where the court is located). Most Democrats supported sustaining the president’s veto of the bill (and thus killing the bill), while Republicans favored overriding his veto (which would have passed the bill over the president’s objections).
While the notaries bill was initially non-controversial, many Democrats became concerned that it might inadvertently lead to improper home mortgage foreclosures. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) argued: “Improperly performed notarizations were reportedly a major factor in circumventing the legal protections afforded to citizens in foreclosure--notarizations in the absence of the person signing the document or without that person's signature or sometimes even forged notary signatures. So we are taking a fresh look at the notarization bill. There were concerns that it could have the unintended effect of facilitating improprieties in mortgage foreclosures…The President took the responsible course in refusing to sign this bill into law so that we could give it a careful and fresh examination in light of these concerns.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) argued that the Democrats’ concerns were misguided, and that the legislation would in no way enable fraudulent home foreclosures: “News accounts have detailed stories of fraudulent activity involving affidavits used to rid banks of bad mortgage inventories. I support any effort to combat that activity, but this situation does not involve H.R. 3808 [the underlying bill]. The bill applies only to `any lawful notarization made by a licensed notary public.' There is nothing in its language that pertains to fraudulent acts of notarization….We should override the veto and support the legitimate purpose of H.R. 3808.”
The House sustained the president’s veto by a vote of 185-235. A “yea” vote was a vote in favor of overriding the president’s veto (most Republicans’ preferred position). A “nay” vote (most Democrats’ preferred position) was a vote against overriding the veto (and thus, in favor of sustaining the veto). 169 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted “yea.” 230 Democrats – including a majority of progressives – and 5 Republicans voted “nay. As a result, the House voted to sustain President Obama’s veto of legislation requiring courts to recognize out-of-state notaries.