The Kabuki that began in the House of Representatives on Wednesday when John Boehner grasped the huge gavel that Nancy Pelosi handed him, continues. We were all grateful that the new House Speaker recognized what a gavel is and did not mistake it for his favorite plaything, a golf club. I guess the shape is different.
The Republican House members got down to work enacting new rules over vigorous Democratic objections. [Here] One GOP rule is that new spending will have to be offset with matching spending cuts, although tax cuts don’t have to be matched by spending reductions. (Explain that one, please.) The other exception will be that any GOP repeal of Obama’s health care law, which is projected to save billions, will not have to be accompanied with any matching new income. Neat, eh?
Moreover, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted that if Obamacare is repealed, the deficit will increase by $230 billion dollars over 10 years. The CBO also estimates that 32 million non-elderly Americans would lose their health care insurance and individuals would pay more for less extensive coverage. [Here]
On Thursday the Republican House members blocked a Democratic proposal that would have required all representatives to state publicly whether they were going to accept federal health insurance. [Here] Of course, the GOPers voted down full disclosure about their federal health insurance choice. The GOP Congressmen and women want the federal health insurance but they don’t wish to acknowledge it openly to their constituents. All of this was simple maneuvering for favorable headlines back home.
What we waited for was the reading of the constitution and, sure enough, it happened, with representatives waiting in the back of the chamber for their turn to read their few words. It is my private opinion that this was a settup so that they could prove to the world and their constituents back home that they can read. (Actually, it made me feel as if I were back in Fourth Grade, listening to Johnny Hunt and Skip Brown stumbling through their turn at reading in Miss Murray’s class.) This was not a fair test of the Reps reading ability, though, because each member could have memorized his or her couple of lines.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R, TX) and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R, PA) briefly caused the health care repeal hearings to be shut down because they had illegally voted all day. It seems they were not present at the official swearing in ceremony. Instead they were in a Visitor’s Reception room, talking with Fitzpatrick’s supporters. When the oath was taken, both had turned dramatically to the television monitor and took their oath. Ding. Ding. Good Kabuki, but not legal.
Sessions and Fitzpatrick continued voting all day on various motions, until it was recognized that both had not been properly or legally sworn. Making the situation even more complicated, Sessions is a member of the House Rules Committee, which had been holding hearings on repeal of Obamacare.
Both Sessions and Fitzpatrick have now been officially and legally sworn in and the new House GOP leadership is scrambling to undo the damage.
There was also a bit of drama in the House Chamber when Rep. Frank Pellone (D, NJ) read Article I, Section II of the Constitution about the “natural born citizen” clause: [Here]
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
A woman in the gallery, no doubt a Birther, exploded, with, “Except Obama. Except Obama. Help us Jesus!” Needless to say, she was arrested and removed. [Here]
Thus endeth our Kabuki for today. Let us hope that the House settles down for some serious business in the near future.
Is that asking too much?...