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House Democrats Pull Out All The Stops to Win - A Five-Week Vacation!

11:32 AM, Jul 31, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
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House Democrats pulled out all the stops to win a hard fought legislative victory yesterday - prevailing on a dramatic 213-212 nail-biter vote on the "adjournment resolution," authorizing a five-week summer recess. Congress sets dates for its "district work periods", through these normally routine measures that must pass both the House and Senate, but don't require the President's signature.

Earlier in the week, House Republican leader John Boehner urged his colleagues to "vote no" on what customarily amounts to a legislative housekeeping matter. He implored Congress not skip town without considering comprehensive energy plan, including lifting the ban on offshore drilling.

For their part, House Democratic leaders seemed more interested cracking the whip for a five-week vacation than hammering out a plan to lower gasoline prices. Still, 17 Democrats - almost all from vulnerable districts - joined all the Republicans present (195) and voted "no" on the motion to adjourn. But 213 members (all Democrats) voted to leave town. You can read the tally here.

Losing would have amounted to a stinging embarrassment for the House majority. Even the speaker of the House - who by tradition normally abstains except for highly substantive or symbolic matters - cast a vote for adjournment. Speaker Pelosi joined in the last minute cajoling like a burly Chicago precinct captain. But Democrats from swing-districts that voted "no" decided to buck their leaders' heavy lobbying rather explain why they chose a holiday over energy price relief.

The "vacation vote" arm-twisting became rather heated, according to several sources that witnessed yesterday's legislative battle. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reportedly "got in the face" of freshman Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina and persuaded him to switch his vote at the last minute to "yes" after he initially voted "no." The former Washington Redskins quarterback doesn't have much of a race this November. Nevertheless it still may be tough to explain back in the Tar Heel state where Mr. Shuler likes to advertise his "independence" from the liberal congressional Democratic leadership.