Government Oversight

House opts against condemning Issa

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The House on Thursday rejected a Democratic resolution that condemned Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for shutting down a committee hearing without letting any Democrat speak.

With dozens of Democrats standing by her, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) proposed the resolution Thursday morning, a day after Issa held a combative hearing with a former IRS official involved in the IRS targeting scandal.

After former official Lois Lerner refused to answer his questions, Issa ended the hearing, and left ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pleading to be heard. Issa’s committee has defended the move by saying the hearing was a continuation of a 2013 hearing in which Democrats were allowed to participate.

Nonetheless, Fudge asked House GOP leaders on Thursday to consider her resolution. But in the early afternoon, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) moved to table it.

That move to essentially push the resolution to the side was approved by the House in a 211-186 vote. A handful of Republicans started by voting with Democrats, but in the end, every Republican voted to table the resolution, and six voted “present.” Four Democrats also voted “present.”

Issa himself voted “present,” as did committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). Others voting “present” were Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Charles Dent (R-Pa.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).

The vote followed a press conference in which Democrats accused Issa of violating House rules. The resolution itself described the violation, and said Issa a history of abusing his position as committee chair.

“Chairman Issa’s abusive behavior on March 5 is part of a continuing pattern in which he has routinely excluded members of the Committee from investigative meetings, and has routinely provided information to the press before sharing it with Committee members,” the resolution reads.

It also said Issa has violated House rules, which say members must “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

The resolution concludes by saying, “the House of Representatives strongly condemns the offensive and disrespectful manner in which Chairman Darrell E. Issa conducted the hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 5, 2014, during which he turned off the microphones of the Ranking Member while he was speaking and adjourned the hearing without a vote or a unanimous consent agreement.”

In Wednesday’s hearing, Lerner invoked her right to avoid self-incrimination by pleading the Fifth Amendment. After invoking that right several times, Issa quickly quickly shut down the hearing.

Issa said the committee’s purpose was in “seeking the truth,” and said there was no further point to the hearing given Lerner’s responses.

When ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) then sought to make a comment, Issa said the hearing was over, and told staff to shut down the microphones.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday offered support for Issa, saying he had done an effective job as chairman.

— Mike Lillis contributed

— This story was first reported at 11:33 a.m., and updated to reflect the House vote.

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