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House Republicans really don’t want to look like they voted to reopen the government

House Republicans accidentally appeared to allow a vote to reopen the government without objecting. They were not happy.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), left, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are seen in the Capitol’s House chamber before members are sworn in January.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The House floor erupted into chaos Thursday afternoon as House Republicans accidentally appeared to allow a vote aimed at reopening the government without objection.

They were very upset about it.

There’s a lot of procedural stuff at play, but the gist is this: House Democrats took up yet another short-term spending bill to reopen the government. The bill was called up and passed on a voice vote rather than a roll call vote — in which each individual’s yea or nay is entered into the congressional record — to the apparent surprise of House Republicans.

Usually, every vote in the House is initially brought up on a voice vote, but typically, someone will request a recorded vote where members can say yea or nay on a bill, showing exactly who is voting for or against a certain proposal.

This time, Democrats requested the voice vote, and either Republicans didn’t realize what was happening or didn’t hear the process. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) was the “chair,” or the person at the moment charged with overseeing the proceedings on the House floor. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told reporters that Butterfield was waiting for someone to request a recorded vote, but no one did, and Hoyer confirmed that after rewatching tapes of the proceedings on the floor.

“On our side, we were surprised!” Connolly told reporters.

Either way, the resolution to reopen the government passed on a voice vote, and most Democratic representatives promptly exited the chamber, heading to the airport to fly back home to their districts for the weekend.

Republicans, meanwhile, were just catching up on the fact that a vote had actually happened.

As members of the House GOP angrily called for another vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) tried to stop them ... while also trying to figure out what they were asking for.

“I object!” Hoyer said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I object.”

Some context here: Now that Democrats have a majority in the House, the short-term spending bill was going to pass whether or not House Republicans objected. In fact, the House has been passing bills the past two weeks to reopen the government, only to have them wait in the Senate because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to bring them to a vote.

What House Republicans are mad about is that they didn’t get a chance to let the official record show they were opposed to a bill reopening the government.

“The last thing in the world my friends on the other side of the aisle want to be recorded is wanting to reopen the government,” Connolly said with a chuckle. “Horrors!”

In the end, Hoyer agreed that the House would schedule a re-vote next week by vacating the motion, giving Republicans the chance to have a recorded vote when Congress gets back in session on Tuesday.

“That will have the effect of allowing a re-vote on the resolution so my Republican colleagues can reflect their view on whether that ought to pass or fail,” Hoyer said.

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