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THE HOUSE
Democrats furious over GOP efforts to rewrite amendments

RAW STORY

Democrats in the House are furious over what they see as a deliberate attempt by Republicans to rewrite Democratic amendments to make the Democrats amendments look preposterous, RAW STORY has learned.

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The Republican-written rewrites, along with the Democratic description of the amendments, follows. RAW STORY has also learned that Republicans have not rewritten similar amendments in the past. A copy from the Congressional record in 2002 is included below, showing the "neutral" language used in a previous Congress.

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The following amendments were offered and voted down by recorded votes in the Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 748-The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA):

DESCRIPTION OF AMENDMENT
AMENDMENT DESCRIPTION IN HOUSE REPORT 109-51

DEMS: a Nadler amendment allows an adult who could be prosecuted under the bill to go to a Federal district court and seek a waiver to the state’s parental notice laws if this remedy is not available in the state court. (no 11-16)
GOP REWRITE:. Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have created an additional layer of Federal court review that could be used by sexual predators to escape conviction under the bill. By a roll call vote of 11 yeas to 16 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Nadler amendment to exempt a grandparent or adult sibling from the criminal and civil provisions in the bill (no 12-19)
GOP REWRITE: . Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were grandparents or adult siblings of a minor. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 19 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment to exempt cab drivers, bus drivers and others in the business transportation profession from the criminal provisions in the bill (no 13-17):
GOP REWRITE. Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution if they are taxicab drivers, bus drivers, or others in the business of professional transport. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 17 nays, the amendment was defeated.

DEMS: a Scott amendment that would have limited criminal liability to the person committing the offense in the first degree (no 12-18)
GOP REWRITE:. Mr. Scott offered an amendment that would have exempted from prosecution under the bill those who aid and abet criminals who could be prosecuted under the bill. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 18 nays, the amendment was defeated


DEMS: a Jackson-Lee amendment to exempt clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles or first cousins from the penalties in the bill (no 13-20)
GOP REWRITE. Ms. Jackson-Lee offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were clergy, godparents, aunts, uncles, or first cousins of a minor, and would require a study by the Government Accounting Office. By a roll call vote of 13 yeas to 20 nays, the amendment was defeated.

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The following statement was issued by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee.

"The Rules Committee discovered yesterday that the Judiciary Committee Report on this very bill, which was authored by the Majority Staff, contained amendment summaries which had been re-written by committee staff for the sole purpose of distorting the original intent of the authors.

"This Committee Report took liberty to mischaracterize and even falsify the intent of several amendments offered in Committee by Democratic Members of this body.

"At least five amendments to this bill, which were designed to protect the rights of family members and innocent bystanders from prosecution under this bill, were rewritten as amendments designed to protect sexual predators from prosecution and were then included in the committee report as if that was the original intent of the authors. The thing is, sexual predators were not mentioned anywhere in any of these amendments.

I asked the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee about this deception yesterday afternoon at the Rules Committee hearing.

"And instead of decrying what I certainly expected would be revealed as a mistake by an overzealous staffer...The Chairman stood by those altered
amendment descriptions.

"He made very clear to the Rules Committee that the alterations to these members' amendments were deliberate.When pressed as to why his committee staff took such an unprecedented action, the Chairman immediately offered up his own anger over the manner in which Democrats had chosen to debate and oppose this unfortunate piece of legislation we have before us today.

"In fact...He said, and I quote..."You don't like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don't like what you said about our bill."

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Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Democrat from New York, said:

“This is truly outrageous, and a gross abuse of power. The authors of this report suggest that they described my amendment in accordance with its possible effect, but if that’s true, consider this:

“Under CIANA, a father who rapes and impregnates his own daughter can go and sue the doctor or the grandparent or the clergyman who transported his child across state lines for the purpose of getting an abortion. Maybe that wasn’t exactly the intent of this legislation. But according to the descriptive guidelines now laid out by the majority, it would therefore be fair to call this entire bill the Rapists and Sexual Predators Right to Sue Act.

“The Republicans are trying to determine which words the Democrats get to use to describe their own amendments. What next – they get to write our speeches?”

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The following is a copy of a page from the Congressional record as regards amendments put forth when the interstate abortion bill came up in 2002. The record, also written under a Republican majority, reflects a neutral tone with regards to the Democrats' amendments.

Correction: In the first version of this article, the headings were incorrectly reversed.

Article originally published Apr. 27, 2005.

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