By Bob Cusack - 01/07/11 12:03 PM EST
The House GOP majority hit some significant turbulence in its first week in charge, attracting negative headlines for not allowing amendments to the health repeal law and a bizarre chain of events that led to two of its members attempting to be sworn in by watching the ceremony on TV.
Democrats accused Republicans of hypocrisy after the House GOP indicated it would not allow amendments to next week's healthcare repeal vote. During an interview earlier this week on Fox News, host Greta Van Susteren repeatedly challenged Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) on the leadership's decision to have a straight up-or-down vote on repeal.
She said, "You promised that there would amendments to the rules, and right out of the box, you're not doing it."
Dreier disputed that assertion, noting that Democrats will be allowed to offer amendments at the committee level as the panels of jurisdiction attempt to devise an alternative later this year.
In his first press conference as Speaker on Thursday, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) also was pressed by reporters on the issue.
He said, "I promised a more open process. I did not promise that every single bill would be an open bill."
Meanwhile, Democrats quickly pounced on the swearing-in snafu involving Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) as they circulated provisions in the Constitution that stipulate that members must be present for the oath (except on "rare occasions," such as due to illness).
Taking note of the House GOP majority's decision to read the Constitution aloud on the floor Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) issued a press release on the Sessions/Fitzpatrick controversy titled, "GOP: Don't Ignore the Constitution, Unless WE Ignore the Constitution."
Fitzpatrick, who defeated former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) in the fall, is a DCCC target in the coming cycle. Sessions is a member of GOP leadership who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Republicans also had to grapple with a new cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis stating that repealing the healthcare reform law would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the next decade.
Boehner strongly disputed CBO's finding on Thursday, saying, "I do not believe that repealing the job-killing health care law will increase the deficit."
Boehner's post-election transition to Speaker was relatively drama-free.