Darrell Issa's disrespect of Elijah Cummings has real repercussions
Congressman Darrell Issa let the power go to his head.
The Republican chairman House Oversight Committee who has spent the better part of three years play-acting every right-wing blog conspiracy about President Obama, found himself in a very uncomfortable position this week when the ranking member of the committee Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had enough.
Following a long partisan rant from Rep. Issa, who is still trying to make the IRS scandal happen, Rep. Cummings made it known to everyone watching that Issa’s antics were unacceptable and wholly unproductive. Cummings, who as the ranking Democratic member had the right to ask a question, attempted to make remarks as Issa abruptly tried to cut the hearing short.
“Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this. You just cannot do this. We’re better than that as a country, we’re better than that as a committee,” Cummings said as Issa cut the microphone, leaving the Democrat shouting before a shocked committee room of staff and onlookers.
This isn’t the first time Cummings and Issa have sparred. Last Summer, Issa came under fire for comparing Cummings who is black, to a “little boy.”
“I’m always shocked when the ranking member seems to want to say, like a little boy whose hand has been caught in a cookie jar, ‘What hand? What cookie?’ I’ve never said it leads to the White House,” Issa said about Cummings.
In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Rep. Marcia Fudge the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus called for Issa’s removal writing, “Under the applicable Rules of the House, we strongly encourage you to take disciplinary action against Mr. Issa and force him to present himself before the American people on the House floor with an apology Mr. Issa not only violated House Rules 9 and 23, he also violated the rules of the committee he chairs. According to Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rule 9 and House Rule 11, each member is allowed five minutes to question a witness during a Congressional hearing. Mr. Issa blatantly disregarded this rule when he adjourned the hearing and denied committee members the opportunity to speak in the middle of the customary five minutes afforded to Ranking Member Cummings. Mr. Issa is a disgrace and should not be allowed to continue in a leadership role.”
The so-called IRS scandal has been thoroughly debunked, with several nails through the coffin, but conservative media, who decided that it was a scandal before all of the facts were known, have not let up. Wednesday morning, Issa dragged former IRS official Lois Lerner before the committee again, not because he was on the hunt for facts, but because he clearly wanted to make a spectacle and force Lerner to take the 5th Amendment a second time to make it appear that the Obama administration was obstructing the investigation.
Let’s be clear: the committee has already found that the IRS was not only looking into conservative groups – the main charge coming from Republicans – but that they also inappropriately flagged progressive groups requesting special tax status as well. A failure of management to be sure, but not a politically motivated assault on conservative groups in an election year.
Issa, with the help of conservative media playing mouthpiece, has lead a three-year crusade against the Obama administration that likely ends in impeachment if played to its conclusion.
Issa’s Oversight Committee has an essential role to hold those in power accountable but instead his committee has been a political sideshow for the past three years. With the disrespectful treatment of the ranking member, it’s clear Rep. Issa’s hubris has gone too far.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.