Wednesday, June 28, 2006

F. Jim loses key vote, goes off -- again

[Update by Jay]: Crooks and Liars has the video.

Judiciary Chair F. Jim Sensenbrenner lost a big vote in his committee Wednesday, and one report says he reacted with his typical temper tantrum and disregard for the rules. This from AP:

'Under God' pledge protection measure fails
GOP members fail to show for vote

WASHINGTON - House Republicans failed Wednesday to advance a bill protecting the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Only a day earlier, the GOP had placed the measure on its "American Values Agenda" in hopes of bolstering the party's prospects in the fall election.

But Republicans could not muster a simple majority on the issue in a committee where they outnumber Democrats by six.

The legislation tries to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over cases challenging the pledge. It responds to a federal appeals court ruling in 2002 that the pledge is unconstitutional because it contains the words "under God." A district court judge made a similar ruling last fall, citing the appeals court precedent.

Another shot possible
A simple majority is required to report a bill to the House floor with a favorable committee recommendation. The House Judiciary Committee split 15-15 on the pledge bill Wednesday; Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., joined 14 Democrats to oppose it.

Inglis said he is concerned that if the Republican-dominated Congress passes "court-stripping" legislation, a future Democrat-dominated Congress might pass its own bill denying courts jurisdiction of more issues. In addition, he said, the legislation would allow state courts to rule on issues related to the Pledge of Allegiance while denying litigants the ability to appeal to a federal court.

Ten of the committee's 23 Republicans did not show up for the vote. The chairman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he would try again for a majority on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders failed by a single vote to pass a constitutional amendment to ban the burning of the American flag.

The GOP's "American Values Agenda" also includes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which died in the Senate before it even reached a vote; a prohibition on human cloning; and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts.

And this from Raw Story:
Dems say Judiciary Chair breaks rules, closes meeting after losing vote

Chairman of the House JudiciaryCommitteee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has broken House rules to adjourn a meeting after losing a vote to Democrats, Democratic sources tell RAW STORY.

The vote was on an item from the Republican's "American Values Agenda," which the party says will codify "the American character." Specifically, it aims to bar any court--including the United States Supreme Court--from hearing any legal challenge to the pledge of allegiance.

Sensenbrenner, according to sources, hoped to reverse the vote when the committee reconvened later in the afternoon.

Democrats on the committee, save ranking member John Conyers (D-MI) refused to attend. With many Republicans also absent, there was no quorum present to hold a vote.

Conyers attended, according to sources, only for the sake of raising a point of order, indicating that the previous adjournment had violated rules. Sensenbrenner responded by indicating that he had not heard the objection earlier. However, sources tell RAW STORY that Sensenbrenner actually responded to the earlier statement at the time.

RAW STORY hopes to make a transcript available shortly.

The committee was again adjourned, and is likely to reconvene Thursday. Whether or not they hold another vote remains to be seen, however sources tell RAW STORY that it is likely to happen. Several Republicans on the committee did not cast a vote in the first round.

What makes this believable, of course, is that Sensenbrenner has done it before.

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