Perhaps you caught it on last night’s news — one of the low points in this era of Tea Party control of the House of Representatives. Darrell Issa, Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was holding yet another hearing in his fruitless attempt to find scandal in efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to verify that organizations claiming tax exempt status as civic organizations are entitled to that status.
After Issa held forth, Rep. Elijah Cummings, senior Democrat on the committee, attempted to speak, but Issa cut off Cummings’ microphone. No member of Congress from the Democratic side was permitted to speak.
Today, Democrats attempted to bring a resolution to the floor condemning Issa for his Putin-like behavior. Specifically, Democrats wanted to cite Issa for violating a House rule requiring that Members “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.” Instead of allowing a vote on the resolution, Republicans moved to table it. Some 211 Republicans, including our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, voted in favor of the motion to table. Not a single Democrat did.
Congressional hearings are a vital part of our democracy. Through hearings, all sides of critical issues are debated in an open forum. Television, radio, and newspaper reporters cover hearings and bring the debates to the people. But for Republicans, including Rep. Reed, Issa’s silencing of Democrats in a public hearing on an important matter reflected creditably on the House.