As if the House Republican caucus wasn’t getting bad enough press as bullies and obstructionists, their latest trick of walking out while Democratic House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer tried to speak should seal the deal.
Hoyer was attempting to get the House to vote on the Senate’s version of the payroll tax bill, rather than the “send it to conference” vote that happened earlier this week. But Republicans weren’t about to let that happen, and the acting Speaker of the House simply left the floor instead. “Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent that we bring up the bill to extend the tax cut to 160 million Americans,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer yelled on the House floor. “As you walk off the floor, Mr. Speaker, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away, from middle-class tax payers, the unemployed, and very frankly, as well from those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors — 48 million senior citizens.”
But the GOP is claiming it wasn’t their fault, that’s just how democracy works. Hoyer had violated the rules, acting Speaker of the House Mike Fitzpatrick claims. He told the Daily Caller, “I was the presiding officer on the floor of the House in a pro forma session when Mr. Hoyer requested to be recognized — in violation of the House rules, I might add…There’s a longstanding policy, it goes back through speakers of the House, all the way back to Tip O’Neill in 1981 that requires for unanimous consent that both parties’ leadership accede to the request for the unanimous consent offer. Mr. Hoyer is a former Majority Leader of the House, he knows the rules or should know the rules and it was my job to enforce them and I did.”
Still, as Brian Beutler writes, the Speaker could have simply refused Hoyer unanimous consent, rather than actually walked away from him, and at the very least saved himself and his party some damning looking video.
Luckily, someone from Speaker John Boehner’s office turned off CSPAN’s cameras, before too much more was shown. And that is what Republican controlled media looks like.
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