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Debacle in the House: Behind the Lantos memorial disruption

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 14, 2008 05:38 PM

The GOP is under fire by the nutroots over the drama on the House floor that led the Tom Lantos memorial service to be disrupted.

The left-wing narrative: Cruel, evil Republicans couldn’t wait to dance on Rep. Lantos’s grave.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, the Republican who had to call a procedural vote while the memorial was ongoing, has been vilified.

But the disruption was the result of scheduling errors and failure of the Democrats to abide by a prior agreement.

The Politico:

A senior Republican aide, however, said the GOP was given no choice in asking for a vote because Democrats broke their commitment to keep the House in recess during the memorial service. Democrats are pushing a contempt vote against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Bush counsel Harriet Miers, and have bypassed traditional rules allowing an hour of debate on the matter, according to Jo Maney, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Rules Committee.

“The reason for the chaos is the majority,” Maney said. “We made clear we would use every procedural rule” to delay the contempt votes.

“There was an agreement that there would be no votes during the service, but they [Democrats] rang the bells” to bring the House back into session, Maney said.

The scene in the Capitol was extremely tense as the procedural motion failed. The Crypt has already received several angry denouncements from both sides of the aisle as tempers flared this morning in the House.

Democrats are now debating the contempt resolution, which stems from an investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys.

“This is the height of disrespect and completely shameful,” said one senior Democratic leadership aide. “… They just chose to vote at the most inappropriate time.”

But another GOP House aide complained that Democrats allowed no other option because Republicans have been denied the ability to offer any alternatives to the contempt votes.

Freddoso at The Corner:

Under a bipartisan agreement, the House was not to come into session until after the Tom Lantos memorial service. But the service ran long, and the session was gavelled in anyway. The first item up for consideration was a Republican motion to adjourn. At first, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D., Md.) office believed at first that this had been the Republicans’ fault. Later on, that misunderstanding was cleared up and explained on the floor. Someone just messed up, no ill will intended.

The Democrats finally apologized for smearing Diaz-Balart. GOP aide Michael Steele sent the following statements:

– “This morning, during the memorial service for Tom Lantos – a public servant beloved on both sides of the aisle – the House Democratic Leadership violated an agreement and called the House back into session. They took this action despite clearly understanding that it would trigger a series of procedural motions. This cheap, cynical political move seems to have been designed to shut down one of the few procedural tools that can be employed by the minority party in the House. Playing this sort of game during the memorial service of a great and good man is beneath the dignity of this House and should be beneath the dignity of Democratic Leaders.”

– “We appreciate Rep. Hoyer’s statement that he “regrets” the situation this morning and the inaccurate statements that were directed at Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.”

And public opinion of Congress plummets even further…

***

Hey, Democrats never acted obnoxiously at memorial services, right?

Flashback: Unhinged at Coretta Scott King’s funeral.

Flashback: Clinton’s crocodile tears at Ron Brown’s funeral.

Flashback: The Paul Wellstone memorial debacle.

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