House GOP Practices Art Of One-Vote Victories
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 14, 2003; Page A01
The complete article is currently (3/23/04) available on the
Washington Post website at- http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A21410-2003Oct13?language=printer [found through a Google search by article title on the same date]
The recent House roll call on a bill to provide school vouchers to D.C. parents
had lasted more than 30 minutes, but the Republican sponsors were still one vote shy of victory. At the back of the chamber,
Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and other GOP leaders surrounded Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.),
who had opposed the measure the week before.
Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) took to the microphone. "Is anyone from the office of
the attending physician present?" he deadpanned. "I understand someone's arm is being broken."
Fletcher finally relented, giving his party's leaders the vote they needed for the
contentious bill, even if it meant he later would have to explain why he switched positions. Dramatic as the scene was, it
was hardly the first time that House leaders have pushed an important measure they knew would pass by a whisker -- if at all.
The goal, insiders say, is to start negotiations with the narrowly divided Senate
-- which is considerably more moderate than the House -- with a House position that yields as little ground as possible. That
makes it more likely that the eventual compromise language will be more to House leaders' liking [i.e., as conservative and
pro-Republican as possible]. ...
© 2003 The Washington Post Company