You know things are bad when even Republicans are questioning the recent behavior of other Republicans during a pivotal election year. Such was the case last week when Gregory T. Angelo, the president of the oft-criticized Log Cabin Republicans, wrote a scathing letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy was behind the backroom maneuvering that allowed a pro-LGBT amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fail after having an initial vote tally that indicated that the amendment has passed. The amendment was directed at Federal contractors who would have been prohibited from getting government work if they discriminated against the LGBT community.
The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who initially thought his measure was successfully passed when the monitor in the House gallery showed the amendment had received 217 yea votes (with 208 opposed). Yet, over the course of the next ten minutes, one by one, Republican House members began to silently change their votes, after some apparent arm-twisting at the hands of the Majority Leader.
No sooner did the final tally of 213 against, 212 in favor, post on the House monitor than chaos broke out on the floor with cries of “Shame” from Democrats. According to Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the flip-flopping Republicans were California Reps. Darrell Issa, David Valadao, Jeff Denham, Mimi Walters, and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, Rep. David Yong of Iowa and Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine.
The outrage was not limited to Democrats however as even the 29 Republicans who voted in favor of the amendment chimed in. The next day, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest organization representing gay conservatives and their allies, condemned the leadership of their own party in uncamouflaged indignation.
In part Angelo wrote:
Yesterday the House of Representatives, in an unprecedented and likely unparliamentary act, affected the defeat of an amendment to the National
Defense Authorization Act proposed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Log Cabin Republicans finds this alarming for a number of reasons.
Rep. Maloney’s amendment merely would have upheld President Obama’s Executive Order stating that no federal contractor can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—an order that was a simple extension of a non-discrimination order that existed during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The circumstances surrounding the defeat of this amendment are highly suspect, as the apparent rules of regular order were not observed in allowing several members to change their votes after they had already been cast following what should have been the conclusion of the allotted time for voting.
These actions fly in the face of promises from Republican leadership as well as Speaker Ryan to operate the House under regular order, and the resultant defeat of the amendment does a disservice to the Republican Party’s roots supporting equality, rather than fighting it.
What occurred Thursday appears to be a flagrant violation of House procedure, and—more importantly—an indication that House Leadership is willing to sacrifice ethics under the false pretext of “religious freedom.”
Log Cabin Republicans believes these actions require public explanation.
In addition to McCarthy, the letter was cc’d to all the representatives who changed their votes as well as House Whip Hoyer.
“The leader [McCarthy] went around and twisted their arms, and they voted for discrimination,” Maloney later said. When Maloney complained directly to McCarthy, he said the majority leader told him “to get back on your own side.”
Rather than admit the obvious, House Speaker Paul Ryan instead worked to control the damage with more closed-door meetings. Afterward, Ryan announced that in the future amendments would have to be printed ahead of time, a procedural change that allows the GOP to better manage problematic votes.
Unfazed, Angelo refused to stand down, demanding that “those congressmembers who perpetuated this fraudulence be held accountable.”
The Florida Agenda agrees.