. . . And Mischief
By Norman Ornstein
The complete article is currently (3/24/04)
available on the Washington Post website at-- http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A14900-2003Nov25¬Found=true [found on this date through a Google search by article title]
November 26, 2003; Page A25
One of the most disgraceful moments in American sports came in the 1972 Olympics, when officials gave the Soviet Union's
basketball team three chances to shoot the ball after the clock had apparently run out -- allowing it to defeat the U.S. team.
American politics now has its own version of that infamous game. Early last Sunday, starting at about 3 a.m., the House
of Representatives began its roll call on the Medicare prescription drug plan -- the most significant vote of the year. The
House votes by electronic device, with each vote normally taking 15 minutes. After the allotted time, the bill, supported
by the president and the Republican leadership, was losing. The vote stayed open. Before long it became clear that an absolute
majority of the House -- 218 of the 435 members -- had voted no, with only 216 in favor. But the vote stayed open until Republicans
were able to bludgeon two of their members to switch sides. It took two hours and 51 minutes, the longest roll call in modern
House history. ...
In the 22 years that Democrats ran the House after the electronic voting system was put in place, there was only one time
when the vote period substantially exceeded the 15 minutes. ....
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company