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Panel:House Democrats Botched Immigration Vote

Democrats incorrectly closed a vote on the House floor in August 2007, which would have resulted in Republicans prevailing on an immigration issue, according to a special bipartisan House committee.

The committee found that "the vote tally of 212 yeas and 216 nays that was finally announced was incorrect. It is either 215 yeas and 213 nays, which would have reflected the tally at the time the chair prematurely announced the result, or 211 yeas and 217 nays."

The committee, led by Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Mike Pence (R-IN), issued a final report on what Republicans alleged was a "stolen vote" and spent a half million dollars on an investigation.

During a rancorous House session late on the night of August 2, 2007, presiding officer Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) closed the vote and announced it was tied at 214-214. By rule, tie votes in the House lose. That was the result Democrats wanted on this particular vote. But the unofficial "scoreboard" in the chamber briefly flashed 215-213 in favor of the Republicans, meaning votes were still being cast electronically.

In protest, House Republicans walked out of the chamber on the next vote and demanded an inquiry.

During the investigation, which lasted more than year, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) admitted in hearings that he yelled at McNulty on the dais to shut down the vote. He also barked at the House parliamentarian, "We control this House, not the parliamentarians," when he thought they had advised McNulty to keep the vote open.

Delahunt described the investigating process as "long and tedious."

A congressman from the Bay State, Delahunt said the circumstances surrounding the vote were a "perfect storm." He also suggested that part of the problem stemmed from votes routinely being held open longer than the usual 15 minutes allowed.

Delahunt also commended McNulty for admitting his mistake in closing the vote early. He said later that there "should be more members like Mike McNulty."

"Even in error, he has made a contribution to this institution," Delahunt said.

McNulty is retiring at the end of this Congress.

The top Republican on the panel, Mike Pence, called the August vote "a dark moment" in the House.