Washington Monthly: Literally Walking Away From a Fight

For Immediate Release:

December 21, 2011

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By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

It was rather remarkable this morning to watch the proceedings on the House floor. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wanted to try again to bring up the Senate’s bipartisan payroll-tax-break compromise, and instead of debating, Republicans literally walked away from the fight.

If you watch the clip, you’ll notice that Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who was presiding over the House session at the time, got out of the Speaker’s chair and left the chamber altogether. Other Republicans joined him. Hoyer, of course, noticed, and explained, “You’re walking out, you’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle class taxpayers, the unemployed, and … those who will be seeking medical assistance from their doctors.”

When Hoyer finished speaking and turned to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to continue the debate, GOP leaders demanded that C-SPAN turn off the cameras so the public couldn’t hear the debate any more.

Classy.

I know Republicans think they’re in “Braveheart” but I don’t remember the scene in the movie in which William Wallace decided he’d rather run away than fight.

It’s worth emphasizing that the House Democrats at this point really just want a vote on the Senate bill. Republican leaders gave their word that they would allow this, but then changed their mind when they realized the Senate compromise might actually pass if brought to the floor.

I’d say this just about marks the point at which this fiasco went from tragedy to farce.