In a odd piece of political theater, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats took to an empty House floor on Friday morning to hammer home a theme that they are in Washington to work on extensions of the payroll-tax holiday and unemployment benefits – while Republicans are not.
“Where are the Republicans?,” demanded Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., assistant to the minority leader, suddenly entering the chamber with Pelosi and the five House Democrats assigned to the payroll-tax extension conference committee. “Mr. Speaker, where are the Republicans?” asked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., in a refrain that others echoed.
But Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. – serving in the rostrum as the speaker pro tem – immediately began gaveling over their voices, instructed the stenographer to quit taking down the floor statements for the Congressional Record, and walked away. C-SPAN TV was instructed to quit broadcasting the events, according to House sources.
The Democrats’ maneuver was the latest effort this week to present a public picture that the five conferees and others – about 35 House Democrats in all – are rolling up their sleeves and working while Republicans are away from the capital. Their move reversed House Republicans’ complaints in December that Democrats were not around to address the nation’s business after the Senate left Washington for the Christmas break.
Taking a page from #OWS, you mean. And that, good people, is what is known as backbone.