What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Public Employees : Procedural Motion to Adjourn the Congressional Session In Response to What Democrats Characterized as Heavy Handed Tactics by the Republican Leadership. (2003 house Roll Call 580)
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Procedural Motion to Adjourn the Congressional Session In Response to What Democrats Characterized as Heavy Handed Tactics by the Republican Leadership.
house Roll Call 580     Oct 30, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

According to many Democrats in the House, Republican leaders have relied on heavy-handed and sometimes unethical tactics to ram their legislative agenda through Congress. To illustrate their claim, Democrats noted that Speaker Hastert (R-IL) had extended a fifteen minute roll call vote on final passage of a prescription drug bill to three hours in order to persuade Republican lawmakers who voted against the measure to change their vote (had the voting ended after fifteen minutes, which is the usual time allotted for House votes, the Republican-drafted prescription drug bill would have been defeated). Of even greater concern to Democrats were allegations of bribery involving Republican leaders and their rank-and-file. According to Representative Nick Smith (R-MI), Republican leaders offered to provide financial assistance to his son's House campaign if he would change his vote and support the prescription drug bill (Nick Smith's son, Brad Smith, had declared his candidacy for his father's seat after the elder Smith announced his plans to retire). Nick Smith declined the "offer" and, according to Smith, Republican leaders then threatened to withhold all support for Brad Smith's candidacy. More recently, Democrats charged Republican leaders with purposely circumventing congressional rules during conference committee negotiations on a bill to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). During House and Senate debate on the FAA bill, the major issue involved a proposal to privatize air traffic control operations at the nation's airports (see House vote 592 for a more detailed description of the debate on that issue). Democrats opposed privatization and, with the help of a handful of House and Senate Republicans, were able to secure passage of amendments to both the House and Senate versions of the bill to ban the privatization of air traffic control operations. The two versions of the bill were then sent to a conference committee where conferees were commissioned to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. However, when the final version of the legislation emerged from conference, the privatization ban on air traffic control operations-a ban contained in both the House and Senate versions of the bill-was not included in the conference report (a conference report is the final version of legislation). By its silence on the privatization issue, the final bill would effectively allow the privatization of air traffic control operations despite the fact that both the House and Senate versions of the bill had banned privatization (according to the rules of conference committee negotiations, provisions which are included in both the House and Senate versions of a bill must be included in the conference report; conferees, in other words, do not have the power to delete provisions which have been approved by both houses of Congress). Representative Mica (R-FL), a conservative member of the conference committee, defended the exclusion of the privatization ban from the conference report: "We know after months of conflict that the issue [of privatization] was tearing us apart. Now we've taken that out." Progressives, however, were angered over what they viewed as a circumvention of congressional rules and, in response, made six attempts on October 30 to adjourn the congressional session. The subject of this vote was the first attempt to adjourn the congressional session, a motion made by Representative McGovern (D-MA). On a vote of 86-317, the motion to adjourn was defeated and the House was not closed down in response to what Democrats characterized as heavy-handed tactics by the Republican leadership.

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