Partisanship Rules in Hearing About Obama Lawsuit

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 11:14 AM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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A debate over a resolution to permit the House to file a lawsuit against President Barack Obama devolved into name-calling.

During the House Rules Committee markup hearing, Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern claimed the measure was the product of Republican "hatred" for Obama and was only meant to appease Republican "cuckoo clocks" who have called for Obama's impeachment, the National Journal reported.

Committee Chairman Pete Sessions tried to mute the rising rhetoric.

"I have not, and would not like to see this committee, on my side, to refer to people who might be on your side as cuckoos. And I do not believe that is appropriate," Sessions said, according to National Journal.

The panel voted the measure out of committee in a party-line, 7-4, vote after nearly two hours of debate.

Asked early in July about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's call for Obama's impeachment, House Speaker John Boehner said, "I disagree." His response was the same when asked about calls from other Republicans, including some members of the House.

The rhetoric was not the only sign of partisanship as a majority of amendments offered by Democratic members of the committee were rejected along party lines.

McGovern himself offered an amendment requiring disclosure of all contracts with lawyers and consultants 10 days before they are approved and another which "ensures that this lawsuit does not target people in the military, veterans, or civil servants."

Colorado Democrat Rep. Jared Polis attempted to introduce language that would require the House to bring up, debate and vote on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, but the amendment also failed.

In an op-ed published in the Dallas Morning News, Sessions argued the lawsuit "is not about partisan politics," but about executive overreach.

"Any person who believes in our system of government should be worried about the president’s executive overreach," he wrote. "This president, as well as future presidents, must not be allowed to ignore the Constitution and circumvent Congress. Through this lawsuit, the House will take a crucial step in reining in the president and defending our Constitution so that it endures for generations to come."

Sessions and McGovern have had a stormy relationship at times. During a 2012 committee hearing, the Texas Republican alleged that McGovern was displaying behavior that would lead people to assume had been drinking.

The House is expected to consider the resolution on the floor next week as one of its last acts before the August recess.

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