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Congress Is under Pressure to Move on Defense, Energy Before Recess

The House of Representatives is expected to work into Saturday to finish important business before the congressional recess, but partisan fighting erupted in the House on Thursday night. Defense and energy bills are at stake.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, pre-recess tensions reach a new boiling point in the House of Representatives. NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman has the story.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Another late-night session, sharp differences over legislation and members simply wanting to get home combined to set up a perfect storm on the House floor last evening.

    Next year's agriculture spending bill was debated with civility for most of the day. But that was lost shortly after California Republican Jerry Lewis called for assurance that no undocumented immigrant would benefit from any of the bill's programs.

    REP. JERRY LEWIS (R), California: Mr. Speaker, there's nothing dilatory about this motion. This is not a political piece of chicanery. It only requires that funds in this act be implemented in accordance with the current law.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro objected vehemently.

    REP. ROSA DELAURO (D), Connecticut: There are no funds in this bill which would authorize any actions for illegal aliens, not for rural housing, not for employment, not for any of the activities funded under this bill.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Just before 11:00, members began casting votes on whether a committee should rework the bill. And the vote was close throughout, tied apparently when New York Democrat Michael McNulty tried to end it…

    REP. MICHAEL MCNULTY (D), New York: … 214, the nays are 214…

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … even as several members from both parties were changing their votes. The next few minutes were filled with confusion. At one point, Republicans thought they had won by a margin of 215-213, but McNulty reported it differently.

  • REP. MICHAEL MCNULTY:

    … the nays are 214, the motion is not agreed to.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … and then explained he had made a mistake.

  • REP. MICHAEL MCNULTY:

    The chair prematurely called the vote at 214.