Way to Exasperate a Liberal #7: Skip your swearing-in to go fundraising, pretend you’ve taken office anyway, and expect everyone else to clean up the mess.
You may recall that during the congressional election season of 2010, House Republicans pledged that every bill would be posted for review for three days before any vote was cast regarding it. That way, the American people could have time to find out about, read and provide feedback regarding the bills.
Well, promises, schmomises: check out these roll call votes. 5 hours — not 3 days — after the 112th Congress was sworn in, the House voted to pass H.Res. 5, before the text of the bill was even posted for Americans to read. Strike 1. The next day, before the text of H.Res. 22 was posted for public review, that bill was voted on and passed by the new Republican House. Strike 2. This morning, less than three days since the 112th Congress was gaveled to order, the Republicans held two votes on H.Res. 26, a bill related to health care reform repeal. Strike 3 and Strike 4. That’s four broken promises in less than three days, quite a rate.
This afternoon, the violation of rules, trust and pledges kicked up a notch when it turned out that two people elected to the 112th Congress actually had not been sworn in. Strike 5. Republican Michael Fitzpatrick and Republican Pete Sessions (also Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee) were too busy holding a fundraiser for their 2012 re-election campaigns to attend the swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the House. Strike 6. The fundraiser they were holding took place inside the House of Representatives, in violation of House Ethics Rules. Strike 7.
Despite not being sworn in and therefore not taking office, Pete Sessions went on to chair Rules Committee meetings and take control of official business, and both Sessions and Fitzpatrick cast multiple votes. Strike 8. Today, after finding out that two of his members had not taken office, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner hurriedly had another bill, H.Res. 27, created and passed to negate the illegitimate actions taken by Sessions and Fitzpatrick — while still allowing the meetings Sessions ran and the roll calls with their votes to have full official effect, as if Sessions and Fitzpatrick had been actual sworn-in members. Strike 9. The whole process went so swiftly that Thomas — the Congress’ official mechanism for disseminating House bills — not only does not yet list the text of H.Res. 27 but indeed as of the writing of this article does not yet even recognize H.Res. 27′s existence. The only way the American public could know about H.Res. 27 is by the listing of a roll call vote. There was no time, certainly not the promised three days, for the American people to learn of, read, and provide input regarding the bill. Strike 10.
John Boehner’s House is a mess, just three days old but buzzing with at least 10 ethical strikes against it. The last time we had Republicans in charge on Capitol Hill, we got a Do Nothing Congress. What shall we call this Congress? The “Whatever, Dude” Congress? The “Whatever it Takes” Congress? Or the “112th Chaos?”