May 20, 2016

This. Is. Ridiculous.

The House of Representatives voted today on an amendment to a Defense funding bill. The bill says that federal contractors cannot discriminate on the basis of religion. The amendment added that federal contractors cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.

The purpose of the amendment was to clarify that "religious freedom" did not mean "right to discriminate against LGBT individuals".

The time to vote on the House floor had EXPIRED and the motion had passed. But GOP leadership, apparently spearheaded by Kevin McCarthy, asked the chair to hold the clock while he strong-armed several Republicans to change their votes. The Hill:

According to the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), at least seven Republicans changed their votes, including Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Bruce Poliquin (Maine), David Valadao (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Mimi Walters (Calif.) and David Young (Iowa).

Denham, Valadao, Poliquin and Young are among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection this year. Walden, meanwhile, chairs the House GOP campaign arm.

The sponsor of the amendment is Sean Maloney, a member of the House LGBT caucus.

Maloney said he'd approached McCarthy to urge regular order but was dismissed.

"I said, 'What are you doing? You can let this go; your own members are supporting it,'" Maloney said, recounting the exchange with McCarthy. "And he said, 'Get back on your own side of the aisle.' And I said to him, 'What side of the aisle am I supposed to stand on to support equality?'"

[Maloney] said "easily a dozen" Republicans approached him on the floor "and expressed disgust for what happened today."

And guess what? House Speaker Paul Ryan "denied knowing whether his leadership team pressured Republicans."


"I don't know the answer. I don't even know,” Ryan told reporters.

He defended the provision in the defense bill.

"This is federalism; the states should do this. The federal government shouldn't stick its nose in its business,” he said.

Except that it's the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT that authorizes defense spending! Seriously, Ryan, that's the best you could come up with?

There's more outrage to read at The Hill piece. Broken rules, changing the clock timing (when Ryan claims 'House order' is all-important under his watch), Republicans cowardly changing their votes from their seats instead of approaching the chair as is customary. Even some Republicans told Maloney this vote changing after the bell was "bullsh*t."

But Paul Ryan doesn't run the Republican House. Rush Limbaugh, the religious right, Fox News, and various bigoted billionaires do. We all know that.

The chant from the House Democrats should ring from every district: SHAME. SHAME. SHAME.

Sean Maloney's speech to the House introducing his amendment is below:

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