WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released the following statement this afternoon after Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the Capitol Police and ordered officers to remove Ways and Means Democrats from a Committee library in the Longworth House Office Building:
“Who does Bill Thomas think he is? He is not King Thomas. He is not Emperor Thomas. He is Chairman Thomas, a Member of this body just like the 434 Members who have the honor of serving in this, the People’s House.
“This action by Chairman Thomas today, calling the Capitol Police and asking them to remove Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee from a library in the Longworth House Office Building, is beyond the pale and it crystallizes a much larger issue – the increasing abuse and arrogance of the GOP Majority in running this House.
“Today’s outrageous action by Chairman Thomas occurred after Charles Rangel, the Ranking Democrat on the Committee, and other Democrats walked out of a markup on a pension bill in protest of unfair notice of the markup. The Democrats simply left the hearing and went to an adjoining library, whereupon Chairman Thomas called the Capitol Police and asked officers to remove the Democrats from the room.
“This is NOT much ado about nothing. This is much ado about the absolute arrogance of this Republican Majority, which has repeatedly tried to stifle dissent and run this House in an undemocratic manner in this 108th Congress.
“We have dedicated almost as much time to non-controversial bills on the suspension calendar as we did to the Republican tax plan – a crucial debate for our nation, a debate in which the Majority denied Democrats any opportunity to offer our alternative.
“We dedicated more time to naming Room 236 in the Capitol for former Majority Leader Dick Armey than we did to the momentous act of increasing the statutory debt ceiling by $984 billion – the largest increase in the debt limit in American history.
“The Majority gave Members mere hours to read a 3,000-page Omnibus Appropriations Bill that incorporated 11 of the 13 annual spending bills for 2003.
“Again and again, the Majority has tried to silence dissent by reporting closed rules – on extending unemployment insurance, on medical malpractice, on a supplemental appropriations bill, on extending the child tax credit. The list goes on and on.
“Today’s action is simply part of a larger pattern. The GOP Majority has tried to silence the voices of the millions of Americans represented by Democrats. And we will never take this abuse lying down.”