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House In Chaos After Republicans Force Vote During Lantos Memorial

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"During what was supposed to be a somber memorial service in Statuary Hall for Rep. Tom Lantos, who died Monday, the House chamber became mired in chaos over procedural votes," the Politico reports.

House Republicans are upset that Democrats are voting today on contempt citations for White House aides Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, and vowed to hold 'protest votes' to suck up time and delay the contempt proceedings.

But Democratic aides were shocked when, during the middle of a memorial for Holocaust survivor and Congressman Tom Lantos, GOP Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart demanded a procedural vote on the floor, forcing members to leave the service early, even "while dignitaries were still giving tributes to Lantos."

"The disrespect that has been shown by a Republican member of Congress in calling a political procedural motion during the memorial service for the late Chairman Tom Lantos is incomprehensible," said Stacey Bernards, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "It is unjustifiable, and Republican leaders should restrict their members from further such action."

Here's Diaz-Balart speaking on the House floor, claiming he was justified to interrupt the memorial because the House had been called back in session. But no votes were scheduled during the memorial, and the vote he call was entirely procedural:

The Florida Democratic Party has released a statement:

"Everyone from the Israeli Foreign Minister to Condoleezza Rice to Bono took time out to mourn the loss of this respected Holocaust survivor and Congressman, but apparently, even a memorial service can't stop Lincoln Diaz-Balart from playing politics," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Alejandro Miyar said. "This is simply shameful."

"The disrespect that has been shown by a Republican member of Congress in calling a political procedural motion during the memorial service for the late Chairman Tom Lantos is incomprehensible," Stacey Bernards, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, told Politico. "It is unjustifiable, and Republican leaders should restrict their members from further such action."

Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, represented California's 12th District for almost 28 years. He died of esophageal cancer Monday at the age of 80.