House conservatives engaged in political theater today, storming the floor after Congress was adjourned “to attack Democrats for leaving town without doing something to lower gas prices.” Politico reports, “At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark.”
“Bring the Congress back. Let’s have a real up or down vote,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) proclaimed. In fact, there was a real up or down vote on gas prices just two days before. And Boehner is well aware of it because he was responsible for ensuring it didn’t pass. Dan Weiss explains on the Wonk Room what occurred this week:
During yesterday’s vote on the Commodity Markets and Transparency Act (H.R. 6604) to rein in oil profiteers, House Republican leaders pressured 13 of their members to switch their vote from “yes” to “no.” Thanks to these strong arm tactics and weak members, the bill to lower gasoline prices by controlling profiteers failed by a vote of 276-151, falling ten votes shy of the two-thirds majority required for passage under the suspension of the House rules. Once again, the GOP leadership used their power to help keep oil prices and profits high, while hurting the average driver.
Boehner strong-armed his own conservative members to ensure a bill didn’t pass because he wanted to engage in today’s political theatrics. After killing a bill that would have addressed gas prices, House conservatives have decided they want to blow hot air in the dark.
Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) said, “This band of brothers here is staying late to make a point to the American people: We want to work.” His colleagues then chanted: “Work, work, work.” Putnam has quickly forgotten the conservatives’ record of leading the Do Nothing Congress in 2006. The 109th Congress met for fewer days than the infamous 80th Congress that Harry Truman reviled as “do nothing” in 1948:
“The 109th Congress vies for the title of the all-time worst Congress,” said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “The Broken Branch” with Ornstein. Mann’s indictment of the 109th includes these charges: “It spent little time in session, it failed to pass budget resolutions and appropriations bills, there was no serious oversight of the disaster in Iraq, there were no major substantive policy achievements, and corrupt members were forced from Congress.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) finally brought the six-hour talk-a-thon to a conclusion today by leading the group in an a capella rendition of “God Bless America.”
Check out this scorecard from the Speaker’s office: