House passes continuity legislation

April 22, 2004 at 7:35 PM

WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. House Thursday passed a measure to expedite special elections to within 45 days if more than 100 members of the House are killed.

The measure passed by a comfortable 305 to 97 vote after what some observers called a testy but spirited debate. Roll Call, a newspaper covering events on Capitol Hill, said 89 Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the legislation.

Votes on the rule for debate, four amendments and final passage all fell mostly on party grounds, as Democrats objected to the GOP leadership's refusal to provide a forum to debate a constitutional amendment that would allow for the temporary appointment of House members, the paper said.

Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the principle author of the underlying bill, asserted his measure would ensure that the legislative branch could reconstitute itself swiftly while maintaining the framers' intent of a "people's House."

Despite his opposition, Sensenbrenner opened the door to holding another hearing. One hearing was held by a Judiciary subcommittee in 2002.

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