The nonsense continues from the WATB caucus:
“My name’s Tom Price and I represent the Sixth District of Georgia and [am] the privileged chair of the Republican Study Committee,” Price said. “It’s now noon on Wednesday. I’m standing outside the office of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The door is closed. We just heard news break there’s been an agreement between the House and the Senate on the non-stimulus bill.”
Negotiators were slated to meet later in the day. However, since news of a deal was leaked to the media, Price questioned if there were “shady deals” going on.
“It’s curious because Republicans were invited to a meeting they said at 3 o’clock this afternoon,” Price continued. “What this means is there are more shady deals going on behind closed doors — without the public, without Republicans in attendance.”
I suppose you could always read the bill to find out if there are any shady deals, but that is beside the point. What is the point? This:
If you want to get a sense of how Congress has changed under GOP control, just cruise the basement hallways of storied congressional office buildings like Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon. Here, in the minority offices for the various congressional committees, you will inevitably find exactly the same character — a Democratic staffer in rumpled khakis staring blankly off into space, nothing but a single lonely “Landscapes of Monticello” calendar on his wall, his eyes wide and full of astonished, impotent rage, like a rape victim. His skin is as white as the belly of a fish; he hasn’t seen the sun in seven years.
It is no big scoop that the majority party in Congress has always found ways of giving the shaft to the minority. But there is a marked difference in the size and the length of the shaft the Republicans have given the Democrats in the past six years. There has been a systematic effort not only to deny the Democrats any kind of power-sharing role in creating or refining legislation but to humiliate them publicly, show them up, pee in their faces. Washington was once a chummy fraternity in which members of both parties golfed together, played in the same pickup basketball games, probably even shared the same mistresses. Now it is a one-party town — and congressional business is conducted accordingly, as though the half of the country that the Democrats represent simply does not exist.***
The GOP’s “take that, bitch” approach to governing has been taken to the greatest heights by the House Judiciary Committee. The committee is chaired by the legendary Republican monster James Sensenbrenner Jr., an ever-sweating, fat-fingered beast who wields his gavel in a way that makes you think he might have used one before in some other arena, perhaps to beat prostitutes to death. Last year, Sensenbrenner became apoplectic when Democrats who wanted to hold a hearing on the Patriot Act invoked a little-known rule that required him to let them have one.
“Naturally, he scheduled it for something like 9 a.m. on a Friday when Congress wasn’t in session, hoping that no one would show,” recalls a Democratic staffer who attended the hearing. “But we got a pretty good turnout anyway.”
Sensenbrenner kept trying to gavel the hearing to a close, but Democrats again pointed to the rules, which said they had a certain amount of time to examine their witnesses. When they refused to stop the proceedings, the chairman did something unprecedented: He simply picked up his gavel and walked out.
“He was like a kid at the playground,” the staffer says. And just in case anyone missed the point, Sensenbrenner shut off the lights and cut the microphones on his way out of the room.***
For similarly petulant moves by a committee chair, one need look no further than the Ways and Means Committee, where Rep. Bill Thomas — a pugnacious Californian with an enviable ego who was caught having an affair with a pharmaceutical lobbyist — enjoys a reputation rivaling that of the rotund Sensenbrenner. The lowlight of his reign took place just before midnight on July 17th, 2003, when Thomas dumped a “substitute” pension bill on Democrats — one that they had never read — and informed them they would be voting on it the next morning. Infuriated, Democrats stalled by demanding that the bill be read out line by line while they recessed to a side room to confer. But Thomas wanted to move forward — so he called the Capitol police to evict the Democrats.***
In one legendary incident, Rep. Charles Rangel went searching for a secret conference being held by Thomas. When he found the room where Republicans closeted themselves, he knocked and knocked on the door, but no one answered. A House aide compares the scene to the famous “Land Shark” skit from Saturday Night Live, with everyone hiding behind the door afraid to make a sound. “Rangel was the land shark, I guess,” the aide jokes. But the real punch line came when Thomas finally opened the door. “This meeting,” he informed Rangel, “is only open to the coalition of the willing.”
And this is unfair to what the supporters of the stimulus bill did, which was… gather the supporters who would negotiate in good faith to discuss the bill before the public meeting to come to a final compromise. It wasn’t even in the same league as the Soviet style antics of the GOP in 2000-2006 as they rammed through the Bush/Rove agenda. I honestly can’t be the only one remembering all this, can I?
So just please grow up already. So much whining. This really is going to be the longest four years ever.