Beware: interlopers in House roll calls!
by skeptic06, Tue Jul 03, 2007 at 06:00:23 AM EDT
A heads-up to those who analyze roll call votes in the US House - and a prime case of unintended consequences (or legislative arrogance):
We start (I started what seems like a week ago!) with a Hillpiece on ethics task force chairman Capuano (not a happy bunny!) which includes this:
...several influential Democrats, including Capuano, dealt Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a blow last week by voting against an amendment to the financial services spending bill that would have barred the use of taxpayer funds for the office of the vice president. The amendment failed, 209-217.
After the vote, Capuano dismissed the amendment as "ridiculous."
Wow! I thought, in sufficient strength to do a little digging.
I have figured how to use the (pretty) up to date roll call info available here (in a form generated by software from the Voteview stable) to generate a spreadsheet analysis, to see which Dem reps flipped Rahmbo off.
Then - horror! - there was a discrepancy in the numbers between Voteview and the Clerk's Office vote page. (We're talking about HR 2829, the FY08 financial services apps bill, which passed last week.) The Clerk recorded four more Yeas than Voteview: his result, the 209-217 mentioned above, was split D207-24, R2-193. Voteview made the Yeas four Dems fewer.
Now, it sometimes happens that the Clerk and the Record disagree about the details of a RCV, so I decided to check it out.
A good hour of buggeration later, it came to me: not all votes recorded by the Clerk were kosher.
And so it proved: under H Res 78, in a bout of pandering cum displacement activity, Pelosi and pals this January decided to allow Delegates (from Uncle Sam's Empire - and DC) to vote along with the real House members, providing their votes don't change the result!
So, ersatz reps can cast ersatz votes that get them their 15 minutes among the impressionable back home - but, at the same time, fuck up the stats whose ease of use was no doubt a consideration entirely absent from leadership thinking (if that's quite the word) on the change.
Of course, it would, with a little planning, have been possible to do both: to allow the delegates their 30 seconds on the local news, and made sure the Clerk's records showed the true result of votes.
(These House and Senate RCV pages are pretty crappy all round, and sorely in need of a revamp: availability of the full info as XLS files would be better, to avoid the need of tedious workarounds (which were necessary even before Nancy's little gesture to the unrepresented).)
Oh - and, if anyone's interested in how this particular workaround works, I'll be happy to explain.
Final thing: I note that the Voteview stats codes Pelosi as a '0' (which is not a member at the time of the vote in Voteview-speak). She didn't vote on the Emanuel Amendment.
This follows the Clerk's treatment (she's not in his list of 11 no-votes); the reasoning, I think, is that (in a kind of reverse of the Delegates) the Speaker only votes where his vote makes a difference.