The US House of Representatives is structured so as to give the speaker, who is selected by the majority party, almost total control over what legislation comes to the floor for a vote. This means that you are almost guaranteed that when the speaker put a bill before the house, it is because they are confident that they have the votes to pass it. When Nancy Pelosi was the speaker, she was an accurate vote counter and never lost a vote.
But yesterday, the GOP lost a vote. This was not over a trivial issue but a vote to impeach homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. A major goal of the GOP is to impeach someone, anyone, as revenge for the two impeachments of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) but their efforts to do so against Joe Biden are floundering because they cannot find any grounds for dong so. They decided on Mayorkas because he deals with border security and accusing him of failing to protect the country advances that agenda too. Not everyone in the GOP was happy with the idea of frivolously using the impeachment process this way and three of the GOP members said that they planned to vote vote against the measure but the speaker went ahead with the planned vote anyway.
To understand the debacle that subsequently ensued, you need to know that the House of Representatives has 435 members so that a majority requires 218 votes. The elections in 2022 resulted in 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats but since then two Republicans and one Democrat resigned and one Republican (George Santos) was expelled, leaving the body split 219-212. One Republican (Steve Scalise) was going to be absent due to treatment for cancer and one Democrat Al Green was in hospital for abdominal surgery, resulting in a 218-211 divide. This meant that the GOP could have those three defections and still carry the vote 215-214, and so the speaker brought the issue to a vote.
But in a dramatic turn of events that illustrates the old saying that you should never count your chickens before they are hatched, Al Green turned up from the hospital, in a wheelchair and still wearing his hospital gown, and cast his ‘no’ vote, making it a tie 215-215, and thus the measure did not pass. In a procedural move, one GOP member then switched his vote from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ (this tactic allows that member can bring up the issue again later) so that the final vote was 216-214 against the impeachment motion.
Of course, now nutjobs like Marjorie Taylor Greene are saying that the Democrats planned this surprise to humiliate the GOP. I do not know if this is true (Green says he decided to go to the House in an Uber when he heard about the vote on TV) but if so it shows that they are really incompetent and I would doff my hat to the Democrats for showing a level of political cunning that I did not expect from them.
Seth Meyers has fun as he walks us through the debacle.