WASHINGTON (CNN) - Even though action has resumed on the floor of the House of Representatives Friday afternoon , the partisan controversy over a Thursday night vote continues to simmer.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, are discussing convening a House select committee to review Thursday night’s disputed vote tally, according to a statement released by Hoyer on Friday evening.
“There is no doubt that the motion to recommit on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill was defeated last night, despite Republican claims otherwise,” Hoyer said in the statement. "The language offered in the Republican motion to recommit – prohibiting benefits to illegal immigrants – was redundant and superfluous. The very same language is stated both in current law and the underlying bill,” Hoyer also said in the press release.
After a delay caused by the dispute between Republicans and Democrats, the House reconvened on Friday afternoon – only to be temporarily delayed again by a computer glitch in its voting system.
The House is currently considering a $250 million appropriations bill to help the Minnesota recover from the Wednesday’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
–CNN’s Martina Stewart and CNN Radio’s Lisa Goddard
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The House of Representatives slammed into its second dead-stop in a day, after 24 hours of wild political maneuvering was topped by a computer failure in the chamber’s voting system.
“It’s obvious we have a technical problem,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland. A chamber full of impatient and skeptical members replied with catcalls and groans.
The problem appeared after Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, moved to adjourn the House as a way to block a Democratic proposal on the nation’s surveillance law. But members quickly realized electronic monitors were not working. Members in the chamber couldn’t tell if their votes had been counted and representatives in their offices could not gauge how much time was left to cast their votes.
“We’re in a very awkward situation here,” said Rep. David Dreier, R-California, who is the top Republican on the Rules Committee. “The House may have just adjourned for all we know.”
After some 15 minutes of headscratching, the House recessed to allow engineers to fix the problem. Democrats promised a revote on adjournment.
The House reconvened after the computer glitch and revoted, after 4 p.m. on Friday, on Wilson's motion to adjourn. The House took up the revised intelligence bill and will work next on a $250 million appropriation bill to help recovery from the Minneapolis bridge collapse.
All of this came less than a day after a controversial House vote led Republicans to stomp off the floor. Republicans claimed voting boards showed them winning a motion 215-213 but Rep. Michael McNulty, D-New York, announced the vote had failed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later said McNulty banged his gavel down early, after a few votes had been entered but not yet processed. She and other Democratic leaders insist the final tally was 212-216.
–CNN Radio's Lisa Goddard
Washington (CNN) – South Carolina state Rep. Converse Chellis was elected by the legislature today to fill the treasurer job left vacant by Thomas Ravenel, who resigned in July amid federal cocaine charges.
Ravenel was South Carolina state chairman for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid.
According to John McCain’s presidential campaign, Chellis is a supporter of the Arizona Senator.
On June 19, Ravenel was indicted on a federal charge of cocaine possession with intent to distribute. He was suspended by Governor Mark Sanford, and then resigned his position as Treasurer on July 24. He is no longer an adviser to the Giuliani campaign.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the presidential campaign season heats up, recent polls taken in Iowa reveal drastic inconsistencies in their results, and show that voters just haven't made up their minds yet.
"Early in the season people aren't paying a lot of attention," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Polls bounce around a lot when voters' minds aren't made up."
A Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday shows Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton virtually tied for first place with roughly 26 percent of the vote.
Other polls taken in the Hawkeye state show more distance between the candidates. An American Research Group Poll puts Clinton ahead of her opponents with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Edwards with 21 percent and Obama with 15 percent. A KCCI-TV poll shows Edwards in the lead with 27 percent, followed by Clinton with 22 percent and Obama with 16 percent.
–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Action on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives resumed Friday afternoon after nearly four hours of procedural wrangling between Democrats and Republicans stopped work on outstanding legislation just before the congressional August recess.
While no formal resolution of the dispute between Republicans and Democrats was reached, senior aides in both parties acknowledge that a heavy schedule and desire to leave for the traditional recess were the main factors in reconvening.
A bill providing $250 million in emergency funds to recover from the bridge collapse in Minneapolis will be the first bill up for a vote on Friday. The Department of Defense appropriations bill is expected to pass Friday night, and time has also been set aside to debate a new intelligence bill, if an agreement on that legislation can be reached between congressional Democrats and the Bush administration.
The energy bill is expected to be debated in the House on Saturday. If that bill is approved, the House will recess for August.
House Democrats acknowledge that their timetable is shaky because they expect that many of their Republican counterparts are still upset about a disputed vote tally Thursday night.
–CNN Congressional Producer Evan Glass
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, co-sponsored a new border enforcement bill that does not include a way for illegal immigrants to gain legal status but remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform.
The new bill focuses on border security, enforcement, and penalties for illegal immigrants but makes no mention of creating a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, a provision McCain said was essential during the debate of an immigration reform measure in the Senate this summer.
Although the new bill's lack of a "legalization" measure, Sen. McCain’s press secretary, Melissa Shuffield, said he is “still dedicated to comprehensive immigration reform.”
“Nothing has changed,” said Shuffield, referring to McCain’s position on immigration reform.
When asked if McCain still supports creating a way for illegal immigrants to gain legal status, Shuffield said the Senator “has not changed his position.”
In a press release Sen. McCain said, “this bill highlights the steps that need to be taken to ensure the integrity of our national security and immigration system, and would provide an essential step toward achieving comprehensive reform in the future.”
–CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai
Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal appeals court ruled Friday that an FBI search last year of the congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., violated the Constitution, because neither he nor his lawyer could protect materials they deemed privileged from being taken by the government.
Federal prosecutors allege that Jefferson took more than $500,000 in bribes and sought millions more, using a network of family companies to conceal the money. Jefferson denies the charges.
The court ruled that the search violated the "Speech and Debate" clause of the U.S. Constitution, which is meant to protect legislative business from any action by the executive branch, such as the Justice Department.
"We hold that a search that allows agents of the executive to review privileged materials without the (congressional) member's consent violates the clause," the ruling says.
However, the court said that only the seizing of paperwork violated the clause; "the copying of computer hard drives and other electronic media is constitutionally permissible."
Before the search, the government set up a special "filter" mechanism in which any materials that the congressman claimed fell under his privilege as a congressman would be kept away from the agents investigating him. But the court ruled that that mechanism was insufficient.
"We conclude that the congressman is entitled ... to the return of all materials (including copies) that are privileged legislative materials under the speech or debate clause," the court said in its ruling. There have been disagreements between Jefferson's lawyers and the Justice Department over how much of the material taken in the search was privileged.
The court is to determine which materials are returned to Jefferson.
In the raid of Jefferson's office in the House Rayburn Building, FBI agents seized a wide variety of paperwork as well as computer hard drives.
Jefferson's attorney, Robert Trout, issued a statement welcoming the decision, saying it "underscores the fact that the Department of Justice is required to follow the law, and that it is bound to abide by the Constitution.
Those principles will continue to be important as we raise additional legal challenges to the overreaching by the government in this case.
"We are confident that as this case moves forward, and when all of the facts are known, we will prevail again and clear Congressman Jefferson's name."
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse issued a statement saying the department "is pleased that the D.C. Circuit opinion does not find that the search of a congressional office is unconstitutional."
But he added, "We are disappointed with the ruling that requires that a member of Congress be provided advance notice and the right to review materials before the execution of a search warrant."
Roehrkasse said "the indictment and prosecution of Congressman Jefferson will not be negatively impacted by this decision."
Washington (CNN) – Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign will mark the candidate’s 46th birthday tomorrow by opening a South Carolina office in the state’s traditionally conservative Upstate region.
It will be the campaign’s third office in South Carolina, making Obama the Democratic candidate with the most campaign offices in the early primary state.
Obama already has an office in the state capital of Columbia, and his campaign opened a Low Country office in Charleston last month.
Obama’s Upstate headquarters will be based in Greenville. The opening will be headlined by Obama supporter Inez Tenenbaum, the former Superintendent of Schools in South Carolina and an influential voice in state Democratic politics.
“You need to be in the grassroots to run a grassroots campaign, and by opening up offices around the state, we’re building relationships with voters and giving South Carolinians a convenient place to go to volunteer or learn more about the Senator,” said Kevin Griffis, Obama’s South Carolina Communications Director.
Most of the other Democratic campaigns in the state, including those of Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards, have offices in the state capital of Columbia. Edwards won the state’s primary in 2004.
A Clinton spokesperson said the campaign plans to open more offices across the state.
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A disagreement over a vote late Thursday night has stopped all action on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives – even though the House is trying to pass a number of important bills before leaving for August recess.
The House was working on a series of votes related to an agriculture appropriations bill and a motion was up for a vote that would send the bill back to the appropriations committee. Republicans wanted to do just that, so that the bill could be rewritten to include a prohibition on using money to pay for housing or employment of illegal immigrants.
As the vote was winding down, Rep. Michael McNulty, D-New York, ruled that the motion had failed even though the current vote tally showed the motion had passed by a vote of 215 to 213. Republicans immediately began to shout “fraud” at what they saw as a power play by Democrats.
But, House Democrats say McNulty just made a mistake in ending the vote too early. A Democratic leadership aide says that McNulty called the vote closed when it became tied at 214 to 214, even as seven members tried to vote. After a number of vote switches, Democrats say the final tally was 212 to 216, with the motion failing.
McNulty feels badly and apologized for the vote today, a Democratic aide said Friday.
On Friday morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D.-Maryland, offered to bring the matter to the House Ethics Committee but withdrew his offer after Republican House Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, dismissed the idea.
Hoyer and Boehner had a private meeting to discuss the situation but couldn’t resolve the Republicans’ concerns.
On Friday morning, House Republicans had an impromptu caucus meeting and the House floor remains shut down.
–CNN Congressional Producer Evan Glass