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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 21
Chaos in Congress:
Dems chant 'Shame! Shame!' as GOP votes down LGBT protections
Section One
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Chaos in Congress:
Dems chant 'Shame! Shame!' as GOP votes down LGBT protections

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The usually sedate floor of the US House of Representatives echoed with chants of 'Shame! Shame!' on May 19 after Republican leaders strong armed five of their members to vote No on an amendment that would have barred businesses from getting federal contracts if they discriminate against LGBT employees.

The amendment introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) initially looked like it would pass. At one point an electronic vote monitor showed 217 Yes votes, bringing on cheers from House Democrats.

At that point, Democrats say, House Speaker Paul Ryan should have asked 'Does anyone wish to change their vote?' Then, according to House rules, members have to come down to 'the well,' the area right below the Speaker's chair, and publicly announce the change.

That never happened. Instead, Ryan allowed the voting time to extend beyond the regularly scheduled two minutes. During the extra time, Democrats charge, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the rounds and browbeat the handful of GOP Yes votes into switching sides.

'The leader [McCarthy] went around and twisted their arms, and they voted for discrimination,' Maloney said. When Maloney complained directly to McCarthy, the majority leader told him 'to get back on your own side,' Maloney told reporters.

'The members who switched are going to hold a very special place in American history as the people who didn't have the guts to stand up and support the will of the House,' Maloney said after the vote. 'They literally snatched discrimination out of the jaws of equality.'

When the final 212-213 vote was announced, the Democratic side exploded in anger. Eventually they broke out in a chant, pointing their fingers at the other side of the chamber where the Republicans sit and shouting 'Shame! Shame! Shame!'

'There will be order in this chamber!' Ryan exclaimed.

'No there will not be!' yelled Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), as she pounded her fists on the table in front of her. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) charged that Ryan tossed Congressional rules aside to allow McCarthy to scrape up enough votes to beat the pro-LGBT amendment.

The members who changed their votes should have had the courage to step forward, he said.

'I was standing in the well. No one came, or no one had the courage to come, into the well to change their vote,' Hoyer said. 'Notwithstanding that, the vote just came changing. How is that possible?'

Hoyer then called for a 'parliamentary inquiry,' or formal investigation of the incident.

According to Hoyer's office, the Republicans who improperly switched sides included Reps. Darrell Issa (CA), David Valadao (CA), Jeff Denham (CA), Greg Walden (OR), Mimi Walters (CA), David Yong (IA) and Bruce Poliquin (ME).

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), one of the few Republicans who vote for LGBT rights and who did not change her Yes vote, shook her head in disappointment as the scene unfolded. Ros-Lehtinen has a Transgender son.

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