Irritated and cranky, House Democrats and Republicans tore into each other for more than two hours yesterday over the vacant congressionalseat in Indiana's Eighth District.

But at the end of the wrangling, after charges and countercharges of "petty politics," election "stealing" and unconstitutional behavior, the southern Indiana seat remained vacant by a 241-to-183 vote. It was the third vote on the issue in three months, with the same outcome. The seat was declared vacant by the Democratic-controlled House on the first day of the 99th Congress in January.

Republicans had demanded that their candidate, Richard D. McIntyre, be seated because he had been certified the winner by the Indiana secretary of state. Democrats declared that the secretary of state, a Republican, had rushed the certification before a recount was completed and that their man, Frank McCloskey, had, in fact, been the winner on Election Day.

Since then, House Republicans have waged a nearly ceaseless battle against the Democrats, who have responded in kind, sparking a war of posters, press releases, publicity events, court suits and speeches. The issue has been credited with helping to make this House session unusually rancorous.

In the meantime, a special bipartisan task force has been looking into the election and examining and recounting ballots. The task force's chairman, Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D-Calif.), told the House yesterday that the panel's official recount will be done by next week and that the task force expects to make a recommendation when the House returns from its April recess.