The floor of the U.S. House of Representatives descended into brief chaos Thursday morning following the defeat of an amendment on religious freedom.
Republicans switched their votes from yea to nay after the clock ran out on time to vote, and it’s unclear why the votes were allowed to switch. If the amendment had been declared approved or defeated right after the clock ran out, it would’ve been approved by a vote of 217-206.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY), would have prohibited the use of federal funds to enforce a provision that was part of the Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House Wednesday night.
The provision overturned an executive order by President Barack Obama, saying religious institutions that receive federal contracts and grants cannot be discriminated against on the basis of religion. Conservatives believed the provision would protect religious liberty, but Maloney and other Democrats said it was against the LGBT community, because religious institutions would be able to fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while receiving government funds.
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Maloney’s amendment would have effectively repealed that provision.
When the clock ran out, votes stood at 217-206, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats to approve the amendment. But then one by one, five Republicans switched their votes to nay.
People started booing, chanting “shame” and saying various other things such as, “Make the order,” “votes are done,” and “let’s go!” Making the order refers to proclaiming the amendment defeated or approved, based on the current votes.
But the votes continued to slowly tick down, until the amendment was defeated 213-212, with 30 Republicans voting for approval. Then the amendment was declared defeated.
Democrats continued to chant “shame,” even as Republicans tried to continue with the bill. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) eventually asked for a recount, and then withdrew the request.