Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Saturday, July 19, 2003  

This is amazing stuff. In all ways.

The donnybrook began in the morning when the Ways and Means Committee met to consider legislation changing rules governing pensions and retirement savings plans. The bill, sponsored by Rob Portman, R-Ohio and Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., is a complex bill dealing with rules for pension funding and 401(k) savings plans.

Democrats were angered because they said the chairman's final version of the 91-page bill did not get delivered to their staffs until nearly midnight Thursday. They said they needed an opportunity to study the complex legislation before voting Friday morning.

When Thomas refused to delay the vote, Democrats forced a lengthy, line-by-line reading of the bill. Leaving Stark behind to block Republicans from obtaining unanimous consent to proceed, the Democrats left to discuss strategy in an library adjacent to the committee chamber.

It was then, they said, that Capitol police officers appeared, saying they were responding to a report of a disturbance. Staffers for the Democrats said the report had been filed by Thomas's office.

Outraged Democrats, believing that Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., had threatened to have them arrested, at one point turned for guidance to committee member John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who was arrested many times in the civil rights protests of the early 1960s.

"In another period, people would use the threat of arrest, accuse people of being disorderly, and that's what Chairman Thomas did," Lewis told his colleagues. "You haven't violated any laws, any rules. Just hold your heads high and keep the faith."

In the end, police left without making arrests.

| Source |

Lest you think the Democrats were sole victims, note this wrinkle in the day's activities:

A transcript of the committee meeting quoted Stark as belittling Thomas's intellect. Although the transcript does not show it, McInnis interjected, ''Shut up.'' The transcript then shows Stark saying: ''You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you, you little fruitcake.''

Stark said in an interview later that he regretted calling McInnis a ''fruitcake.'' But he also said the transcript missed his telling Thomas, ''You're behaving like a fascist.''

(Though it should be noted that Stark's a 71-year-old.)


posted by Jeff | 3:29 PM |
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