Rep. Anthony Weiner who represents the New York Ninth Congressional District went ballistic on the House floor Thursday over his Republican colleagues' procedural objection to an amendment to the Public Health Services Act. The amendment would extend and improve health care benefits for 9/11 victims suffering from lasting health complications. The bill ultimately failed to get the needed two-thirds majority, 255-159, setting the stage for Rep. Weiner's outburst.
In a rant that lasted for almost two minutes, a hopping mad Weiner railed against "cowardly" Republicans who claimed they were voting against the bill because of "procedure." Weiner spat: "It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes!"
Weiner attacked those who "stand up and say, 'Oh, if only we had a different process we'd vote yes.' You vote yes if you believe yes! You vote in favor of something if you believe it's the right thing! If you believe it's the wrong thing, you vote no!"
"It is a shame! A shame," he exclaimed.
Kudos to Rep. Weiner. The Republicans are shameless and they need to be called on it.
Norman Orstein, the Congressional scholar and the liberal in residence at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has a short must read post:
Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa. But I can’t recall a level of feigned indignation nearly as great as what we are seeing now from congressional Republicans and their acolytes at the Wall Street Journal, and on blogs, talk radio, and cable news.
It reached a ridiculous level of misinformation and disinformation over the use of reconciliation, and now threatens to top that level over the projected use of a self-executing rule by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the last Congress that Republicans controlled, from 2005 to 2006, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier used the self-executing rule more than 35 times, and was no stranger to the concept of “deem and pass.”
That strategy, then decried by the House Democrats who are now using it, and now being called unconstitutional by WSJ editorialists, was defended by House Republicans in court (and upheld). Dreier used it for a $40 billion deficit reduction package so that his fellow GOPers could avoid an embarrassing vote on immigration.
I don’t like self-executing rules by either party—I prefer the “regular order”—so I am not going to say this is a great idea by the Democrats. But even so—is there no shame anymore?
The answer to Dr. Ornstein's question is no, not on that other side of the aisle.
It's gone beyond hypocrisy however. The rhetoric emanating from the Republicans is as if some prelude to civil war. You have Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota openly calling on citizens not to pay taxes and to engage in acts of civil disobedience. At her "Kill the Bill" rally on the St. Paul Minnesota State Capital steps, she compared President Obama to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and then called the healthcare reform bill "illegitimate" before suggesting that such illegitimate bills need not be followed.
"In their bill they have the IRS enforcing the Health Care Bill", said Rep. Bachmann. "We're not going to pay their taxes..." "We don't have to follow a bill that isn't law."
Representative Anthony Weiner who represents the Ninth Congressional District of New York certainly distinguished himself today on the floor of the House.
"You gotta love these Republicans," Weiner declared. "I mean, you guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of insurance companies."
That led a Republican member of the House to invoke a parliamentary procedure called "Words Taken Down" challenging the appropriateness of the language. Per the C-Span Glossary, Words Taken Down is the House rule used to discipline a member for using inappropriate words in debate. After the words are "taken down" by the clerk and read back, the chair rules on their suitability. If ruled inappropriate, the member may not speak again on the same day without House permission.
Thus challenged, Rep. Weiner simply amended his remarks:
Make no mistake about it, every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.
By the way, Congressman Weiner has his own YouTube channel if you care to keep up with him.
There are multiple takeaways to last night's win for Governor Rick Perry in the Texas GOP primary. To begin with, as Nate Silver points out over at FiveThirtyEight at least in Texas, anti-Washington beats out anti-incumbency. I'd temper that point somewhat by noting that Deborah Medina, the über-conservative Tea Party candidate, received over 270,000 votes, just under 20 percent of the vote. Combined with Perry's 51 percent share, the radical right took 70 percent. And I'll add that for the Tea Party set, yesterday's results did not exactly demonstrate