House Republicans nearly succeeded Thursday in their efforts to block President Obama's decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
While debating a bill to fund the Justice Department, lawmakers initially defeated an amendment to ban the government from spending any money to close the prison. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) authored the provision. And the House voted down Lewis's proposal was 216-212.
But the problem is that the House considered Lewis's plan under a condition that allows the six delegates to Congress from five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia to vote. All of those members voted against Lewis's amendment. Since the vote outcome fell within the margin of six votes, it's possible those members could have determined the fate of Lewis's idea.
That triggers a re-vote anytime the outcome falls within that six-member margin and those members of Congress vote.
So the House voted again on Lewis's proposal. The House again defeated the Guantanamo Bay amendment, but only by one vote, 213-212.
The six special members are Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Del. Kilili Sablan (I-MP), Res. Comm. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR), Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI) and Del. Eni Faleomaveaga (D-AS).
These members are permitted to vote in what's called "The Committee of the Whole." The Committee of the Whole is a special, parliamentary construct where the House performs much of its business. The members from Washington, DC and the U.S. territories are prohibited from voting when lawmakers are assembled as the "House of Representatives."
In the House, some 40 Democrats voted to outlaw funding to close the prison. Only two Republicans voted against the proposed ban.