The government shutdown did not end with a bang or even a whimper. Instead, it ended with a stenographer screaming about the freemasons.
After the Senate approved the Reid-McConnell deal by a vote of 81-18, the bill to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling quickly moved over to the House, skipping all procedural hurdles as it raced towards approval. It was finally passed by a vote of 285-144, with every Democrat voting in favor but more than 60% of House Republicans still opposed.
The final approval of the bill was punctuated by a House stenographer who, as the vote was winding down, ascended the podium and started shouting. The stenographer, who has been identified by other outlets as Dianne Reidy, "had kind of a crazed look" in her eyes according to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The microphones in the chamber were off during the vote so that what she was saying was unintelligible on the floor. However, after she was escorted out of the House chamber by several staffers, she shouted: "He will not be mocked!" referring, presumably, to God. She went on to proclaim that the United States "was not one nation under God, had it been, the Constitution would not have been written by freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Lord Jesus Christ."
Her outburst visibly disturbed a number of members and staffers, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), both of whom ran out of the chamber after her.
Perhaps the crazed scene was a fitting climax to a 16-day impasse that shut down the federal government and pushed the U.S. to the brink of default. There were plenty of other surprises last night; perhaps the biggest contained in the bill itself was the inclusion of an extra $2 billion to fund the Olmstead Dam and Lock in Kentucky. The addition of this appropriation prompted Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to rage, calling it disgusting. The provision being included was credited to the chair and ranking member of the relevant Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Strangely though, the committee's chair, Barbara Mikulski, had no idea that it was included in the final bill.
Another surprise was the support John Boehner was getting from the most conservative members of his caucus. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), one of the leaders of the attempted coup to oust Boehner as Speaker in January, was effusive about Boehner's leadership. "I think he did a good job on this one and that is not something I have said often in the past," said Huelskamp. He praised Boehner for sticking with the Republicans in his conference "all the way to the end."
The rest of the night played out as many had predicted. The strategy of Ted Cruz and much of the House Republicans to tie defunding Obamacare with keeping the government open failed. Rep Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) seemed to suggest there was never any cohesive plan at all on this from the beginning. "Well, I don't know if you characterize it as a strategy," said Fortenberry. "It might have been a momentary decision of a few that sort of carried into a momentum for the institution, in other words, got imposed on the institution. It was not prudential ground to fight on."
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