Unable to come to agreement on the issue, the House decided to move onto other issues today, including a memorial service for Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who died earlier this week, and long-pending contempt citations for White House aides who refuse to honor congressional subpoenas.
That’s when everything got ugly.
Moments after President Bush threatened to delay his weekend trip to Africa and force Congress to act before key intelligence programs expire, House Republicans staged a walkout to protest Democratic inaction on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Frustrated Republicans streamed out of the Capitol and onto the east steps of the Capitol, a powerful act aimed at stopping House floor proceedings and forcing a vote on the FISA bill.
The Republican walkout came after an angry morning in which both sides accused each other of improperly using House floor procedures during the memorial service of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) who died Monday. Republicans were also angry that Democrats are taking up contempt resolutions against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers.
Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), led his colleagues out of the chamber in a dramatic gesture, saying “let’s just get up and leave.” But it’s not clear if anything will come of the theatrics, as Democrats have refused to take up a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Democrats do not want to pass a bill with lawsuit immunity for telecom firms as the White House has demanded.
“Failure to act would harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities, and could reopen dangerous gaps in our intelligence,” President Bush said in an afternoon press conference.
Republicans took quite a few firm stands this morning, all of which were wrong.
Now that's shameful. Disrupt a memorial for a long term fellow member. Then obstruct procedure for purely partisan reasons.
Whenever congress gets called "do-nothing", remember that it is the Republicans who are the obstructionists.