Thursday, January 6, 2011

The just-say-no gang that couldn't shoot straight

The new House leadership must be glad that today is over after an embarrassing and gaffe-filled session.

Some of the embarrassment came from a new CBO estimate that the 10-year cost of repealing health care reform will total a whopping $230 billion. Republicans, who had initially held up votes on enacting the reforms so that the CBO could score it and who touted the CBO estimates at the time, have now turned to attacking the CBO. Said Rep. Boehner, the "CBO is entitled to their opinion." At the same time, the leadership must see some credibility in the CBO numbers, because they have written rules that explicitly exempt HR 2 from their pledge not to enact legislation that would add to the deficit.

Speaking of that Rules Committee, it turns out that someone who wasn't formally a member of Congress presided over parts of its meeting. Representatives Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick were so busy attending what may have been an illegal fund-raiser elsewhere in the Capitol, that they never made it to the floor of the House yesterday to be sworn in. From The Hill
The two Republicans missed the official swearing-in ceremony on the House floor Wednesday because they were attending a separate event for Fitzpatrick elsewhere in the Capitol.

The snafu sent Republican leaders scrambling Thursday afternoon because Sessions and Fitzpatrick had already recorded votes on the House floor and Sessions had even chaired the Rules Committee for a period during a hearing on the healthcare repeal bill. Sessions and Fitzpatrick were spotted huddling with staff off the House floor shortly after a vote on congressional budget cuts.

...A Web site promoting his (Rep. Fitzpatrick's) event in the Capitol Visitor’s Center said it cost $30 per person, but fundraisers are not permitted in the Capitol complex. The event was billed as "Mike Fitzpatrick's swearing in celebration."
Although a Fitzpatrick spokesman denies it was a fundraiser, the web site advertising the event describes the payments as "donations" and "contributions." It looks like an ethics hearing might soon be needed.

Speaker Boehner spent much of his first major press conference backtracking on pledges. With respect to his "open rules" pledge, the Hill quotes him saying, "I promised a more open process. I did not promise that every single bill would be an open bill." Rep. Boehner later danced around the Republicans' pledge to cut $100 billion in spending during the coming year.

The Party of No couldn't even read the Constitution without mucking it up. First, they read a sanitized version that dropped all the nasty bits with references to slavery and blacks being three-fifths of a person. So much for celebrating the framers' intent. Next, they managed to skip reading two sections.

What will tomorrow bring?