What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : H.R. 841. Governance/Vote on Amendment to A Bill to Require, in Extraordinary Circumstances, States to Hold Special Elections to Fill Vacancies in the House of Representatives No More Than 49 Days After the Vacancy is Announced by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
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H.R. 841. Governance/Vote on Amendment to A Bill to Require, in Extraordinary Circumstances, States to Hold Special Elections to Fill Vacancies in the House of Representatives No More Than 49 Days After the Vacancy is Announced by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
house Roll Call 49     Mar 03, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

In this vote, the House defeated an amendment to H.R. 841, a bill to require, in extraordinary circumstances, states to hold special elections to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives no more than 49 days after the vacancy is announced by the Speaker of the House. That amendment would have extended the deadline for holding special elections from the 49 days set forth in the bill's language to 60 days. The amendment was offered by Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), who argued that 49 days would not be enough for states to set up and hold special elections in the event of a catastrophe claiming the lives or capacities of more than 100 members of the House. She stated that 60 days "is a more practical and realistic deadline, places less burden on the States, and still accomplishes the bill's goals to expedite special elections in a large number of States." In addition, she noted that a 60-day deadline "would also allow some States more options if they wish to preserve their primary elections which at the insistence of the minority are no longer explicitly prohibited by this version of the legislation. But while primaries may no longer be barred, 49 days to hold both a primary and a special election is still a high bar to meet." Republicans countered that expanding the time limit to 60 days would undermine the point of the bill, which was to ensure that the House could quickly reconvene and continue to govern in the event it was struck by a terrorist act or other disaster. Candace Miller (R-MI) argued that extending the time limit to 60 days would weaken the United States' ability to respond militarily to an event that took the lives of more than 100 members of Congress, because the War Powers Act requires Congress to approve or disapprove of any presidential military action within 60 days. She also stated that "[a] survey of election officials . . . shows that 49 days is a reasonable period of time in which to conduct a special election." Progressives lost this vote 192 to 229, thus leaving states 49 days to hold elections in the event of a catastrophe killing or incapacitating more than 100 members of the House of Representatives.

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