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Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens

House GOP leader John Boehner has been under a lot of stress.
House GOP leader John Boehner has been under a lot of stress. (By Mark Wilson -- Getty Images)

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By Dana Milbank
Friday, May 9, 2008

It was already shaping up to be a difficult year for congressional Republicans. Now, on the cusp of Mother's Day, comes this: A majority of the House GOP has voted against motherhood.

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On Wednesday afternoon, the House had just voted, 412 to 0, to pass H. Res. 1113, "Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day," when Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), rose in protest.

"Mr. Speaker, I move to reconsider the vote," he announced.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who has two young daughters, moved to table Tiahrt's request, setting up a revote. This time, 178 Republicans cast their votes against mothers.

It has long been the custom to compare a popular piece of legislation to motherhood and apple pie. Evidently, that is no longer the standard. Worse, Republicans are now confronted with a John Kerry-esque predicament: They actually voted for motherhood before they voted against it.

Republicans, unhappy with the Democratic majority, have been using such procedural tactics as this all week to bring the House to a standstill, but the assault on mothers may have gone too far. House Minority Leader John Boehner, asked yesterday to explain why he and 177 of his colleagues switched their votes, answered: "Oh, we just wanted to make sure that everyone was on record in support of Mother's Day."

By voting against it?

If Boehner's explanation doesn't make much sense, he's been under a great deal of stress lately.

There's the case of one member of his caucus, Rep. Vito Fossella (N.Y.); the father of three from Staten Island yesterday announced that he has a fourth, a 3-year-old love child with a woman from Virginia. That admission was prompted by his drunken-driving arrest in Virginia last week, when he told police he was on his way to see his daughter. "I think Mr. Fossella is going to have some decisions to make over the weekend," Boehner said at his news conference yesterday, cutting Fossella loose. Fossella was spotted on the House floor, in tears, speaking to the chaplain.

For the record, Fossella did not participate in the Mother's Day vote.

Neither is Boehner likely to be helped by a Senate ethics committee decision yesterday exonerating Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) over his use of the "D.C. Madam's" call girls. The Senate cleared him because the prostitution occurred when he was in the House -- and the House can't punish him because he left for the Senate. The madam, meanwhile, killed herself by hanging last week.

Then Boehner must grapple with the problematic case of Don Cazayoux. The Democrat last week won a House seat in Louisiana vacated by Republican Richard Baker. The seat hadn't been held by a Democrat since 1974, and President Bush won 59 percent of the vote in the district in 2004. "The loss in Louisiana is a wake-up call," Boehner admitted yesterday.


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