Liberals are throwing a hissy fit across the blogosphere because Republicans called an end to a pro-forma session and shut the microphones down while Democrats were attempting to force an up-or-down vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax holiday extension. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) continued talking even without the mics on.
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) presided over the brief session, and after the Pledge of Allegiance closed the session and said the next pro forma would be on Friday. As Fitzpatrick gaveled the session closed, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked to be recognized to speak, but Fitzpatrick did not recognize him. Hoyer loudly protested the move as Fitzpatrick walked out of the House.
"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.
"We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing the issue of critical importance to this country," he added.
Hoyer then yielded to House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who began to speak to a chamber that had no presiding officer. C-SPAN's coverage of the floor ended moments after Van Hollen started speaking.
Funny but if memory serves me right, when Pelosi and crew ran the House, liberals weren't complaining when Democrats did the very same thing back in 2008 when the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak.
FLASHBACK 2008: "House Dems turn out the lights but GOP keeps talking"
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House, turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.
Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi's refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m., and they are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.
At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on and the microphones were turned on shortly afterward.
But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one was witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.
Democratic aides were furious at the GOP stunt, and reporters were kicked out of the Speaker's Lobby, the space next to the House floor where they normally interview lawmakers.
"You're not covering this, are you?" complained one senior Democratic aide. Another called the Republicans "morons" for staying on the floor.
Update: The Capitol Police are now trying to kick reporters out of the press gallery above the floor, meaning we can't watch the Republicans anymore. But Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is now in the gallery talking to reporters, so the cops have held off for a minute. Clearly, Democrats don't want Republicans getting any press for this episode. GOP leaders are trying to find other Republicans to rotate in for Blunt so reporters aren't kicked out.
Who says political blogging can't be very entertaining?