The Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday called for GOP Rep. Darrell Issa to be stripped of his chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee — as Republicans beat back a formal resolution on the matter and Speaker John Boehner voiced support for the California congressman.
"Mr. Issa is a disgrace and should not be allowed to continue in a leadership role," Rep. Marcia Fudge, the Ohio Democrat who heads the caucus, wrote in a letter to Boehner
"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."Fudge also offered a resolution condemning Issa for his "offensive and disrespectful manner," but the GOP-controlled House blocked it on a 211-186 vote.
But Boehner praised Issa at his weekly Thursday news briefing.
"Darrell Issa is the chairman. He’s done an effective job as chairman, and I support him,” the Ohio Republican said.
Issa, 60, abruptly adjourned a hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. He instructed committee staff to turn off the microphone of the committee's top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who also is a caucus member.
He told U-T San Diego
on Thursday that he had apologized personally to Cummings for his actions. "As chairman, I should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on, and I take responsibility," Issa said.
But Issa avoided saying he was sorry when pressed by Fox News' Megyn Kelly on Thursday.
"I broke no rules," Issa told Kelly, saying he simply followed procedure.
Story continues below video.
Issa accused Cummings of having a "hissy fit" after Issa had adjourned the proceedings.
The Maryland Democrat had asked if he could ask a question, Issa said yes, and Cummings began railing against Issa for the way he has conducted the hearing. Issa had brought Lerner back before the committee to ask questions about emails in which conservative groups appeared to be targeted.
Issa said Cummings had asked him before the meeting whether he would have a chance to make a statement. Issa said he told him no, because it was a continuation of the hearing nine months earlier in which members had made statements already.
After Issa adjourned the hearing, he said, Cummings went into "what appeared to be a pre-staged event" saying he had a right to talk.
The hearing was on the alleged improper targeting of tea party groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Issa adjourned the session after former IRS official Lois Lerner repeatedly refused to answer questions about the scandal.
Lerner headed the IRS division that improperly targeted
conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012.
Cummings, 63, was trying to say that Republicans had overblown the controversy and had asked that the hearing be continued when Issa ordered that his microphone be turned off. The chairman then left the room.
"We had a hearing. We are adjourned," Issa said to Cummings amid the dispute. "I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no questions."
"I do have a question," Cummings responded.
"I gave you an opportunity to speak," Issa said before leaving.
Outside the committee room, Issa said, "Just because Mr. Cummings would like to have a more convenient truth, doesn't give him the right to make a speech."
Cummings said on Thursday that several GOP committee members had apologized to him for Issa’s conduct, The Washington Post reports
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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