“Can you hold on a couple minutes… Can we take just a couple more questions? Really really?” — Donna Leinwand, National Press Club President.
“No… No… So what? I gotta go! That’s the job. That’s what the Detroit Free Press would like, is for me to stay here and miss my votes. Thank you very much. Forgive me for doing this. I might come again and have more time.” — Representative John Conyers
“I was not very happy,” said Leinwand after Rep. Conyers left his National Press Club speech 15 minutes early to cast four votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. Ms. Leinwand was not very happy that Conyers left — after completing his speech and answering a few questions, mind you. But those four votes — on amendments by David Obey, Mark Souder, Mike Pence and Robert Wittman — were consequential. They included provisions to shunt money away from contraceptive programs, to prohibit needle exchange programs, to move monies from federal bureaucracy management toward the collection of health statistics and children’s emergency medical programs, and to ensure that the government purchase energy-efficient bulbs for its use, among other things. Those votes affect people, which meant that the votes of John Conyers had consequence.
One might say they had more consequence than a member of Congress staying a few more minutes after a speech to answer a few more reporters’ questions.