Typogate, the Sequel

Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:01pm

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) attributed it to Murphy’s law — that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Just as Republicans were heading to the floor to fix an embarrassing typo in their regulatory moratorium bill, Democrats discovered yet another typo in the resolution fixing the original error.

The second error led Foxx to make a tearful plea to Democrats on the House floor to consent to fixing the second error.

But Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was in no mood to let the issue drop quickly. He reserved his right to object to the request, stringing along the debate to mock Republicans for their repeated errors on the bill and echo GOP criticisms from the previous Congress over how important it is to “read the bill.”

Referencing the Latin quote “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — which translates roughly as “Who watches the watchers?” — Frank asked, “Who corrects the correctors?”

Foxx offered her own Latin quote — “mea culpa” — and begged Democrats to accede to the change. “We’re all human beings,” she said, adding that GOP lawmakers were eager to leave town because they were “looking forward to a weekend of work at home.”

The North Carolina Republican, a relentless partisan warrior, pointed to comity only minutes earlier during consideration of a resolution condemning last week’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.

“How ironic it is that our colleagues were here just a few minutes ago on the floor discussing the tragedy in Aurora, Colo. And that was as great an example of what great human beings and how bipartisan we can be in this chamber,” she said, choking back tears.

But as Frank continued to poke the GOP, Foxx abruptly withdrew the unanimous consent request, plunging the debate into confusion as she and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) argued over which bill or resolution the rule incorrectly referred to.

As it turned out, the typo fix rule referenced H.Res. 783 — a nonexistent resolution — instead of H.Res. 738, the rule governing debate over the regulatory moratorium bill that was actually at issue. The numbers were transposed by a person in the parliamentarian’s office, an aide said.

Behind the scenes, cooler heads prevailed, and the two sides agreed to approve by voice vote an amendment fixing this second typo.

The embarrassing spectacle was the second time in two days Republicans were forced to fix a typo.

On Wednesday, Democrats objected to a request to fix an error that fundamentally changed the meaning of the regulatory bill — the text referred to the “employment” rate instead of “unemployment” rate.

House Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) took full responsibility for the error, apologizing at a six-minute emergency committee meeting that the GOP was forced to schedule to approve the original typo fix.

But on the floor, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) cited an error by “professional staff” — an oblique reference to the House Legislative Counsel’s office, which helps lawmakers draft legislative language.

Issa’s charge angered the office, which is fiercely protective of its reputation.

In fact, staff traced the error to an email from an Oversight and Government Reform Committee staffer to a Rules Committee staffer.

In a brief interview, Issa said he didn’t know whether that was true but that it wasn’t important anyway. “The issue is how many sets of eyes reviewed this language and didn’t catch [the typo],” he said, arguing the blame applied across the board.