N.Y. Times: The House could end up choosing the president.

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G.O.P. Begins Jockeying in House on Fate of Election


The House majority whip, Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, has prepared a memorandum on the Electoral College process.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 Representative Tom DeLay, the Republican leader who drove the House forward to impeachment, has sent a staff memorandum to Congressional Republicans pointing out that the House and Senate can reject a state's electoral votes if they decide that the votes are tainted.

The memorandum, with the neutral title "Electoral College Process in the Congress," is one of several research efforts under way by senior Republicans as members of their party express fears that ballot recounts could deprive Gov. George W. Bush of a victory in Florida, and as scholars disagree over what would happen if there is no one to represent a stalemated Florida when the Electoral College meets in December.

Mr. DeLay, a Texan who is the House majority whip, had his aides distribute the two-page e-mail memorandum in recent days. It sets out Congress's role in tallying and certifying electoral votes and the circumstances that could lead to the House itself choosing the president.

Representative Bill Thomas, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Administration Committee, has asked the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to report to him on the constitutional and legal role of the House. And one senior House Republican lawyer said that he and other party lawyers were boning up on the arcana of Congress's role in the electoral process.

The research comes as partisan tensions are rising and are beginning to remind some lawmakers of the impeachment battle of two years ago, with the presidency at stake and fights brewing over due process and the rule of law. House Republicans from Florida and the Democratic compatriots had dueling news conferences today, and one of the Republicans, Representative Dave Weldon, called the recounting in his state "an outrage."

Speaking in defense of Florida's secretary of state, Mr. Weldon said that Vice President Al Gore had "studied at the feet of Bill Clinton."

"And his classic technique with political opponents we saw it in the Lewinsky affair is character assassination," Mr. Weldon said.

Republicans described the research as precautionary and probably unnecessary, and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said he and his senior lieutenants had not discussed the possibility of invalidating a state's electoral votes. A spokesman for Mr. DeLay, Jonathan Baron, said that Mr. DeLay was "confident" that Mr. Bush would win the election and that staff members had prepared the memorandum to answer questions from individual lawmakers.

"Members of the leadership have responsibility to perform due diligence in these kinds of questions," Mr. Baron said. "The operating principle must be prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Another Republican close to Mr. DeLay described the memorandum as similar to the "impeachment book" his office sent out in 1998 when Mr. DeLay began providing information about impeachment to Republicans and subsequently driving it through the House.

"If there are feelings this is being stolen, there will probably be calls for action," the Republican said.

The memorandum does not mention Florida or any other state. It recommends no course of action, but explains a little-known section of law, enacted after the contested presidential election of 1876, which gives the House and Senate the ability to reject a state's electoral votes by a majority vote of both houses. It also spells out that under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the House chooses the president if no nominee has an electoral majority.

(continued in next post...)

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 16, 2000


(...N.Y. Times story continued from prior post)

Democrats, too, are starting to study the law, the Constitution and its ambiguities. Experts disagree over whether the election would be thrown into the House if Florida was could not seat a delegation in the Electoral College by Dec. 18, and there are also questions of what would happen if majorities in the House and Senate used their power to object to and reject the electoral votes of some states.

Representative David E. Price, Democrat of North Carolina, has introduced a resolution to have the archivist of the United States provide the House with information about Electoral College preparations. And aides to the House minority leader, Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, said they had asked the parliamentarian to give them a copy of any research prepared for the Republicans.

No matter what happens in the presidential race, there are now calls from members of Congress from both parties to review everything from the elimination of the Electoral College to the role of the television networks in calling elections to whether the law allowing voter registration when getting a driver's license is causing fraud.

Some of the calls for reviews were more pointed than others. Mr. DeLay was quoted by CQ Daily Monitor, a Capitol Hill newsletter, as calling for a wide-ranging review of the presidential election including looking at reports of illegal immigrants' voting in Florida and troubles that members of the military may have had mailing their ballots from abroad.

Other Republicans said they wanted more generic review of issues, not an investigation of the recent election. Several Democrats said they wanted to study how state election laws and practices varied and alternative voting methods.

Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, and Jim Leach, Republican of Iowa, introduced bipartisan legislation to review the integrity of future elections.

Representative Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican who heads a House Commerce subcommittee, has sent letters to news organizations as part of an inquiry into whether election-night predictions discouraged voters from going to the polls.

Mr. Thomas said Congress should examine the safeguards against people voting in two states, "given the mobility of people today particularly on the East Coast."

Such talk immediately prompted complaints from the Democrats.

"The Republican majority at some point is going to have to decide if they are going to be a party that investigates or a party that legislates," said Laura Nichols, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gephardt.

Despite the partisan tensions, Mr. Hastert and Mr. Gephardt met today for the first time in several months in an effort to patch up their relationship before the 107th Congress convenes.

(N.Y, Times, 11/16/00, page A25)

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 16, 2000.

Hope this works; the Times might require a registration (which is free). Some articles don't require a registration, and apparently I don't need to punch mine in to get to articles any more. So I can't tell if you'll be able to get to this.


-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 16, 2000.

Vice President Al Gore offered a sensible way out of the legal and electoral quagmire in Florida yesterday when he pledged to abide by the results and not to sue if a complete hand recount was carried out in three critical Florida counties. Mr. Gore also said he would abide by a statewide hand count if his opponent, Gov. George W. Bush, preferred that approach. Mr. Bush's swift rejection of the proposal was a disappointment on civic grounds, a political mistake and unsound as to his reasoning that a manual recount would be "arbitrary and chaotic."

It is the continued lack of agreement that is producing chaos, all the more so given Mr. Bush's inflexibility and Secretary of State Katherine Harris's defiant insistence on certifying a vote that is still incomplete. Mr. Gore's proposal was right on the substance and also tactically smart. One thing that has been missing during the weeklong drama over Florida's vote has been signs of presidential- scale leadership from either candidate. The public has been hungry both for resolution of the election and for Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush to quit hiding behind lawyers and spokesmen.

Mr. Gore has now responded creatively to the situation while Mr. Bush emerged from the seclusion of his ranch only to turn down a real opportunity to negotiate a procedural agreement that the public would trust.

In his statement last night, Mr. Bush declared that he wanted the election counting to be fair, accurate and final, but his stubbornness will prevent that result. So far, the Bush campaign's attempts to block the manual recount have failed to win favor in both state and federal court. Moreover, Mr. Gore's proposal for a binding resolution put in a bad light Governor Bush's insistence on blocking an authoritative recount. The governor is depending on Ms. Harris, a Bush campaign official, to pre-emptively certify the results in Mr. Bush's favor once all the overseas votes are counted on Saturday. Ms. Harris, who served as co-chairwoman of the Bush campaign in Florida this year, announced last evening that she would accept no further manual vote counts. That is an abuse of her public duty and an irresponsible act at this sensitive moment in the nation's political life. She is doing grievous damage to Mr. Bush's reputation, and potentially to his presidency. Already trailing in the national popular vote, Mr. Bush should take every effort to avoid being the beneficiary of a hasty, incomplete vote count in Florida.

Earlier in the day, there was progress toward resolving the electoral impasse in Florida when the state's highest court rejected Ms. Harris's request to block the hand count. But until the vice president made his move, neither candidate appeared to be taking seriously the fact that the public has been taking their measure throughout this bizarre interlude. So the vice president seized one of those moments when it is possible for a candidate to appear statesmanlike and also gain a political advantage. But Mr. Bush failed to respond in kind.

Mr. Gore's offer has weight because he proposed giving up something of value the right to sue in return for the fair count he needs and the country desires. Mr. Gore, who has been privately combative throughout this period, was also smart to put on a magnanimous public face. However calculated, his offer to meet with Mr. Bush to raise the the tone of the battle is likely to win widespread approval. Also, Mr. Gore's proposal that the two men form a compact of mutual support once a winner is determined represents a sound step toward an orderly transition. Mr. Bush was unwise to dismiss Mr. Gore's proposals, though he did agree to meet with the vice president after the outcome of the election is determined.

In arguing against the hand count, Mr. Bush was asking the nation to decide its most important election on something other than the best available count in the admittedly flawed situation at hand. He was also ignoring Florida law and Texas law that regard hand counts as a just recourse in contested elections. Under Mr. Gore's plan the votes can be counted in a week and a winner in the long presidential race can be declared without further delay. Victory is important to both Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore, and for a few hours Wednesday night, a plan was on the table that would have given them both a fair chance at that victory. Today, there is still time for good judgment to prevail in putting the principles Mr. Gore described into place in Florida. But whatever happens, neither side should take this disagreement as an excuse to go to all-out litigation over a problem that still needs to be settled in the political arena.

-- also from NYTimes (inter@sting.com), November 16, 2000.

Also see the thread 'Election scenarios.'


-- (rel@ted.thread), November 16, 2000.

I am reminded of a science fiction book, Bio of a Space Tyrant, vol.3, Politian, where the Congress overturned an election with the response that a constitutional convention was called (only 2 more states are needed, thirty-one have already called for one at various times and not rescinded their call as far as I know) and the future tyrant, a Clinton-like character in some ways, was given authority to abolish any other part of the government that he wanted to.


-- dandelion (golden@pleurisy.plant), November 16, 2000.

...but I believe that in Biography of a Space Tyrant, Volume 32, the evil Lord DeLay was eaten by the very same mutant brain-eating "Chads" that he had intended to release upon the Planetary Assembly. The "Chads," finding no brains there to eat, got pissed and proceeded to devour everyone else on the planet just for the hell of it. Everyone on Sol BlueRock 3 dies, leading to great celebrations in the rest of the galaxy lasting through Volume 41. Something like that.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 17, 2000.

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