At a House hearing yesterday, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) cut the mic of Democratic Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), fueling the Congressional Black Caucus to demand Issa face punishment for his “unequivocally unacceptable” actions.
Writing on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) should reprimand Issa and strip him of his chairmanship.
Boehner has no plans to condemn the fellow Republican. “I think he was within his rights to do what he did,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “Darrell Issa is the chairman, he’s been an effective chairman, and I support him.” But Fudge argued, “The abuse of authority and misuse of the Congressional privileges afforded them are an affront to the expectations of the American public. Congressman Darrell Issa of California abused his authority and therefore must be reprimanded to ensure the dignity of the House of Representatives is preserved.”
The letter points out that not only were Issa’s actions “deplorable” and a “disgrace” but he also violated Oversight Committee rules and the rules of the House. Those rules maintain all members shall be treated and act with an integrity and behavior “that reflects creditably on the House,” and that each member is allotted a full 5 minutes to question a witness. Issa adjourned the committee before Cummings could question the witness at the hearing about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tax-exempt status groups.
Issa defended his behavior after the hearing, saying that Cummings “was actually slandering me at the moment that the mics did go off by claiming that this had not been a real investigation.”
In a party-line vote, the House tabled a resolution condemning Issa for his behavior at the hearing.
On Thursday, Issa personally apologized to Cummings. “Mr. Cummings is a member of Congress who works very hard for his constituents,” he told U-T San Diego. “I could have offered to reopen the hearing and allowed him to make a second statement. As chairman, I should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on, and I take responsibility.”