House GOP leadership on Thursday
appeared to bend the rules to sink an amendment that would uphold
President Barack Obama's executive order protecting LGBT workers in
The House floor turned chaotic as
Democrats cried foul.
Amid shouts of “Shame! Shame!” from
Democrats, seven Republicans were persuaded by GOP leaders to switch
their votes after the clock had run out.
Out Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a
Democrat from New York, proposed attaching the amendment to a
spending bill following passage late Wednesday of a defense policy
bill that included an amendment by Rep. Steve Russell, a Republican
from Oklahoma, that would extend a “religious exemption” from the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 to all government contractors.
The amendment's vague language “could
be exploited as a license to discriminate against LGBT Americans by
almost any federal contractor,” Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican,
the Rules Committee on Tuesday.
The drama unfolded as Maloney's
amendment appeared to pass 217-206, but Republican leaders held the
vote open as they prowled the aisles looking to pick up votes to
defeat the measure.
“Need two more votes,” Rep. Steve
Russell said loudly among Republicans.
eight minutes passed before the gavel came down. Maloney's amendment
was defeated with a narrow 213-212 vote.
“GOP leadership held the vote up
until they convinced GOP colleagues to CHANGE their vote,” Maloney
Democrats quickly shared the names of
Republicans who changed their votes: Reps. Darrell Issa, Jeff Denham,
David Valadao of California; Greg Walden of Oregon; Bruce Poliquin of
Maine; and David Young of Iowa.
Obama has threatened to veto the
defense bill as it is currently drafted.