House Devolves Into Verbal Fracas

The House nearly grinded to a halt Friday as Republicans and Democrats continued to feud over a screwball vote from Thursday and the electronic voting system went down later in the day.

Lawmakers had planned on cramming several votes into the day as they neared their month-long summer recess, scheduled to start at close of business Friday. But Thursday night's disputed vote rubbed nerves raw and pushed negotiations over how to proceed into the afternoon.

Thursday night, House Republicans had offered a so-called motion to recommit on the agriculture appropriations bill, which would have stalled the bill on the House floor and sent it back to committee. Republicans said the changes to the bill under their motion, if approved, would have prevented illegal immigrants from benefiting from new provisions in the agriculture bill.

As that vote was coming to a close, Rep. Michael McNulty, D-N.Y. — who at the time was in charge of the floor — gaveled the vote closed at a dead heat, 214-214, a vote that would signify that the effort to stall the bill failed.

But the electronic board in the House at that moment showed Republicans with the higher ground at 215-213. This prompted the shouting and boos. Republicans, already rankled by longer-than-expected preliminary votes leading up to a final vote on the agriculture bill, started shouting "Nay! Nay! Nay!"

Moments later, the board showed that Democrats had the upper hand, with 216 votes to the Republicans' 212. In protest of the last-minute shifts, Republicans marched off the House floor.

In an attempt to appease Republicans, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland quickly offered a motion that would allow a revote on the matter, but the attendance for that motion was decidedly fewer: 216 yeas, 12 nays and 55 voting only "present."

On the final vote, the agriculture bill passed on a 237-18 vote, with 13 voting "present."

Nerves were still raw Friday morning, but in mano-a-mano deal-making between two top House lawmakers, the two sides of the aisle appeared to reach a truce.

On the House floor, members gathered to try to sort out what happened and to mend fences. Hoyer offered a resolution to hand the matter over to the House ethics panel and offered a personal apology to his Republican counterparts over the blow-up.

"The minority was understandably angry," he said.

House Minority Leader John Boehner avoided harsh criticism but said the ethics panel resolution would be unfair because of the majority control by Democrats — adding that it would be like putting the matter "in a black hole."

McNulty apologized for calling the vote prematurely.

"I just want to express regret to all the members in the House, and especially the minority, of any role that I may have had in that confusion," McNulty said.

After talking it over, Hoyer and Boehner agreed to not press any further with either of their resolutions and move on.

Boehner urged his colleagues to take the approach that, "What happened last night, happened last night."

Later in the day, Boehner was less willing to give. In a statement he issue with Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, they said a meeting they had Friday with Hoyer didn't fix the problem: Democrats still refused to reverse the vote.

"The right course of action is for the Democratic leadership to respect the will of the House and the American people by allowing the actual vote to stand," Boehner and Blunt said.

And with the exception of two votes — on providing money for the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, and amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — they said "the House should not proceed with work on any other business until last night's vote to deny taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants is restored."

But as the House was set to take up a preliminary vote on FISA, sometime around 3 p.m., the House electronic vote tallying system failed. It was up by 4 p.m., but not long after, the administration sent its notice that the version of the bill being considered — being pushed by Democrats — wasn't unacceptable.

FOX News' Jim Mills, Lee Ross and Molly Hooper contributed to this report.