Of course, this vote is small beer alongside the greatest “vote that wouldn’t end,” the Medicare prescription drug reform vote two years ago. In that case, a 15-minute vote was kept open for three hours -- lasting from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. -- so party leaders could get the “correct” outcome.
If the actual vote had been allowed to stand, the bill would have been defeated 218-216. However, Republican officials were able to twist enough arms and change enough votes to make the final count 220-215 in favor of this new entitlement.
Rep. Mike Pence is one of the conservative stalwarts who voted against the bill. He says it is unnecessary and will cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. “In one vote, [Congress] added as much in unfunded obligations to Medicare as exist in Social Security today,” Pence noted during a recent speech at The Heritage Foundation. Maybe that’s why so many lawmakers really wanted to vote against the bill.
Lawmakers make the rules the rest of us must follow. The least we can expect is for them to follow the rules they made for themselves. The very first promise in the 1994 Contract with America was that, if elected, Republicans would “require all laws that apply to the rest of the country [to] also apply equally to the Congress.” That should be their policy for internal rules as well.
The governing party lost a fair vote on the Gasoline for America’s Security bill, just as it lost a fair vote on the Medicare reform bill two years ago. Instead of bending the rules, the House leadership should admit defeat, go back to the drawing board and rework both measures in a format that a majority of lawmakers can accept in the time allotted for the vote.
Taxpayers will rest easier if they know that the “right” outcome was achieved through a fair vote, even if that means they never get to ride on a hybrid bus.