Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 22, 2014

Issa’s Antics Again Try GOP’s Patience, Complicate Party’s Message

issa 027 010413 445x297 Issas Antics Again Try GOPs Patience, Complicate Partys Message

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Congress can sometimes be fairly compared to the fabled Faber College of “Animal House,” then Darrell Issa is the latest character to get marked for “double secret probation.”

The chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee did what he had to do to minimize the immediate political damage he inflicted on his House GOP colleagues last week. He swallowed his considerable pride and reversed his defiant rhetorical course to apologize to Maryland’s Elijah E. Cummings for peremptorily cutting off the microphone the panel’s senior Democrat was just starting to use, drawing a finger across his throat and turning his back and walking out of their March 5 hearing.

And the Californian made his de minimus mea culpa within 36 hours, so memories of the ugly incident might fade a bit before Congress returns for the new week.

But the disdain stirred up in the Democrats, the annoyance revealed by many Republicans and the dismay expressed by institutionalists in both parties won’t disappear. Footage of the incident quickly went viral, and surely will be revived for the foreseeable future to illustrate stories about heightened partisan tensions, lowered standards of decorum or intensified investigative zealotry at the Capitol.

That is why Issa has assured lasting trouble for himself, especially in his own ranks. For the final nine months of his term-limited time with the Oversight gavel, expect him to be under a very tight leadership leash.

One of Speaker John A. Boehner’s standing orders for his members in 2014 is to avoid making themselves the story. Issa ran afoul of that dictate by manufacturing a melodrama that obscured one of his party’s winningest efforts for energizing the conservative base this election year: the investigation of political targeting by the IRS.

He had arranged a made-for-Fox-News moment by making Lois Lerner, a former top official in the office that gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status in 2012, come to the Capitol and once again invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But instead of the “What is she hiding?” or “Who is she protecting?” narratives Issa was hoping to spawn, the coverage was all about the Cummings contretemps.

It was hardly the first time that Issa’s actions have obscured his party’s goals. Not having any women testify at his 2012 hearing about contraceptive coverage under the health care law allowed the Democrats a big opening to warn of the GOP “war on women.” Attention to his panel’s inquiry into the government’s ill-conceived “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation was long ago overtaken by his subpoena fight with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. And the conspiratorial assertions Issa has made during his investigation of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, have been contradicted by fellow Republicans on two other committees.

The most recent flare-up hardly had to turn out that way. Playing by the parliamentary rules is the minimal grease required for maintaining a sense of congressional fairness, and many chairmen are willing to bend procedural formalities once in a while so as to ease the sting the minority party feels from being defeated day after day.

Issa would have secured his desired headlines if he’d relaxed regular order and permitted Democrats to reiterate what has been their central point for months: There’s no credible evidence the IRS bureaucrats were acting on orders from Obama administration higher-ups.

Instead, he gave the other side something that could benefit them more. Democrats had a second day’s worth of stories about Republicans coming to their combative chairman’s defense. (The GOP conference banded together to deflect a vote by the entire House on whether to condemn “the offensive and disrespectful manner” in which Issa runs his committee, and Boehner rebuffed a call that Issa’s chairmanship be revoked led by Democrat Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, one of Cummings’ successors as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.)

Irregular observers of Congress may be tempted to scoff at the Issa dust-up as just another of the House’s partisan food fights, albeit one that may have pushed the bar for acceptable behavior to a new low. But there are only a couple of incidents in the past year that were comparably incendiary.

Democrats, when they were last in charge, locked up the chamber and began the 2008 August recess knowing full well that dozens of Republicans were hoping to give special-order speeches promoting their proposals for expanding offshore oil drilling as a way to slow the rise in gasoline prices. (Unlike last week, the majority first went through the formalities of pushing through an adjournment resolution.)

And in 2003, the Republican then chairing Ways and Means, Bill Thomas of California, called the Capitol Police on Democrats who had holed up in the committee library in protest during a particularly contentious markup. The howls of protest only subsided a week later, when his GOP colleagues told Thomas he’d gone over the line and made him apologize from the well of the House. He wept openly as he did so.

Issa was permitted to atone for last week’s heavy-handedness with much less. He ultimately made a phone call to Cummings in which, by his telling, he confined himself to this: “As chairman, I should have been much more sensitive to the mood of what was going on, and I take responsibility.” Cummings accepted his apology.

If there is a next time, Issa is unlikely to be let off so easily — by lawmakers on either side.

Listen to a radio interview on this topic here, and watch the Roll Call Round Table discussion on whether the Issa-Cummings fight was really so nasty after all.  

  • healanyone

    And the conspiratorial assertions Issa has made during his investigation
    of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, have been
    contradicted by fellow Republicans on two other

    • Truth Be Told

      I picked up on that, as well.

    • cliftonbritt

      I don’t know about the conspiracy that you speak. I very much know that there was a huge dereliction of duty on the part of B.O. B.O. was right there with the rabble he hired when Benghazi was taking place and did nothing. Making it impossible for him to blame anyone but himself. Of course the old Sow Lois Lerner is on the hot seat and when a push comes to a shove, I don’t think she will take a prison sentence for B.O. Of course if she does go to jail, the Red Negro who is always in the wrong corner will pardon her.

  • Lisa Basset

    Thanks for sharing this, I guess day by day the antiques are becoming more gops.

  • stasis

    I hope you are well and truly prescient.

  • foxlies

    minor note: the IRS did not give special scrutiny to conservative groups;. that is the point Cummings was trying to make. Only one or two groups were singled out for scrutiny both of them liberal groups! so please stop pushing that fallacy

    • Grumpy

      Your statement contradicts one Lois Lerner made herself..

      “IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications,” said Lois Lerner,

      • foxlies

        you’re not getting the full story if all you know is what fox news tells you. so what about the only two pacs denied status not being teaparty groups?? where is the crime against conservatives? or do you just ignore facts that don’t fit your agenda?

        • Grumpy

          Actually the first quote came from AP… and Lerner said dozens, her words, not mine..

          Here’s the headline from Huffington:

          IRS Apologizes For Inappropriately Targeting Conservative Political Groups In 2012 Election

          BTW I don’t watch any cable news, including FOX.. 15, 20 and 30 second sound bites only tell you what the networks want you to hear..

          • foxlies

            she also said that they targeted other groups as well, and once again I ask you”where is the crime against conservitive cpacs?” if only liberal groups were actually denied? or do you just like playing the victim?

          • Grumpy

            Illegal targeting by the IRS is a violation of civil rights regardless of who she was targeting.. Thinking she should probably be in prison..

            The fact that Cumming is working so hard to defend her is an indication it goes farther up the chain of command than he or the democrats want the public to know.. If it was just her butt on the line, he’d be out to hang her too.

          • Jimmie1151

            Cummings was the first to condemn Lerner’s actions, however he has read the same documents that Issa has and he is attempting to set the record straight, that is why Issa cut him off.

          • Grumpy

            I’ve watched the video several times.. Lerner refused to testify, her testimony was the sole purpose for that meeting.. There was no reason to continue without her testimony.. Cummings as always wanted to grandstand– and try to shield the administration..

            Remember when he tried blaming gun dealer because Eric Holder’s ATF was running guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels?

          • Jimmie1151

            The minority leader has the right to speak for five minutes. Issa physically cut off his mic after a few seconds. As far as the gun running program, it has been shown that the Arizona ATF ignored orders from Holder to shut it down. They were reprimanded and subsequently resigned. Cummings was going in the right direction. Issa has apologized for his rudeness and breaking the committee rules. You have nothing.

          • docb

            The committee rules give the minority leader the right to speak…think there is a time limit. Issa the arson cut off the childish violation. You close a hearing two ways- by vote or unanimous consent!

            The little cretin issa has a blatant agenda and classless childish behavior. Steve Miller, the former director was quite clear that 501c4 applicants were scrutinized across the board…the Tea party just squealed victim loudly..Miller is a repub appointed by a repub as is Lerner!

          • Truth Be Told

            It wasn’t ILLEGAL. It was their job.

          • Jimmie1151

            She apologized for all groups targeted, the conservative groups were not the majority. Issa has done an excellent job not telling anyone he refuses to look at any groups other than conservative in his investigations.

      • Jimmie1151

        Also “progressive” “liberal” “green” etc.

      • Truth Be Told

        An investigation has found liberal groups was “singled out” as well… fewer, yes, because there were fewer APPLICANTS. In the end only ONE group was denied the tax exempt status it sought…. it was a LIBERAL group. Get over it.

        • Grumpy

          There are Conservative groups that are still waiting..

          But she approved the Barack H Obama Foundation in a matter of days for the Presidents Brother, Malik Obama. Didn’t seem to bother the IRS that Malik works for Omar al Bashier.. the guy responsible for the black slave trade in Sudan

          • shamu9

            Yeah, Malik ‘Ali Bama’,’ “The King O’ The Bongo Congos’ ” Application took all of 3 weeks, instead of 3 years, like the Conservative Groups!

          • Truth Be Told

            Are you able to speak like an adult?

          • shamu9

            I ‘Guest’ Not!

          • betsym

            Just for information this is NOT a foundation that the President has anything to do with. The foundation was started to honor his father and he has NOTHING to do with it. Never has. It was founded in 2008. There is another one for the future Presidential Library for the present President.


          • cliftonbritt

            B.O.’s presidential library already has a wing started. It is currently being used as an outhouse in one of our national parks. It has cost the taxpayer, so far, $67,000 and it has no plumbing. The Red Negro really deserves such a library.

          • Von Bailey

            And even unfinished it has more relevance and stature that the GWB Library.

        • DC-Comix

          Truth Not Told – Please identify the one liberal group that has been delayed or had their certification withheld.

          • Truth Be Told

            Well, dear, since you asked… It was the Maine chapter of Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office

            Also, chew on this… and stop the whining…


            On that note, buh bye

          • DC-Comix

            Did I call you a liar? I asked a simple question and you answered. Grow up.

          • Marv Sammons

            Although the article linked does not say it, your contention that the Maine chapter of emerge was denied is true.

            There were two other emerge chapters denied applications to RESUME operation as 501 as well. Unlike the conservative delays in processing the determinations were made expeditiously.

            Unlike the conservative scandal these were not applications for 501 status for groups without histories these were applications for temporary recertification for groups which had been advised by the IRS of the need to convert to 527 because of non compliant activities. These groups had agreed to convert but had applied for 501 renewal until they were able to accomplish it. These applications were denied.

            The denials were based on admitted noncompliance with the classification, not having anything to to with political leaning. Apples and Oranges. These groups were asking for a waiver to continue lawbreaking until they could comply as opposed to the conservatives which had never claimed 501 status ergo no previous lawbreaking to scrutinize.

        • shamu9

          Yeah, Lerner just LOST the Damned Applications ’till after Her Little Tin God ‘Ali Bama’ Was Re-Rigged into office by Georg Soros’ “May The Schwartz Be With You!!” Vote counting Corp. ‘Schytle’, [In Spain] , and ‘Chucky Cheezee’ Hagel’s Rigged for Obama only Voting Machines!

          • Truth Be Told

            I think that tin foil hat of yours is cutting off circulation to your brain.

          • Nicholas DeLuca

            WOW! Such hatred and ignorance.

          • shamu9

            Hey Goomba!! How’s That??

          • betsym

            What an intelligent comment. Grow up. You obviously just listen to faux news and don’t do your own research. I research everything…I don’t depend on ANY cable news channel because they slant everything the way they want you to believe.

          • cliftonbritt

            betsum YOYO, where might one get, not propaganda, but the NEWS? Could MSNBC be your advice to all of us uninformed folks? You keep wanting people to “grow up!” Why don’t you take your own advice?

          • Von Bailey

            “[W]here might one get, not propaganda, but the NEWS?”


          • johnblack45john

            If you can’t make an intelligent post try not posting at all

          • shamu9

            Yeah, I guess I’ll just sit here, and Bask in your and the rest of the “Move-On” Troll’s Brilliance!! Do you get paid by the Post, Word, or Letter?? There can’t be this many True Believers in ‘Ali Bama’, and the Commie Welfare State!

          • johnblack45john

            Why is it that you illiterate bagger bastards think that everybody who is not a bagger like you is a Communist? And unlike you I don’t get paid to penny post here like you do I actually work for a living.

      • docb

        The simple edit, grumpy…Context is the key!

    • cliftonbritt

      foxfleas, where have you been for the few years you have been alive?

      • foxlies

        what’s your point? or hasn’t someone given it to you yet?

  • Mark Uss

    Where new ways of doing things are prohibited, we reach a point where our current knowledge shackles us to the known ways of today.

  • Tom

    Thank you Roll Call for continuing to report such groundbreaking and important news. Maybe Roll Call should think of producing some reality t.v. so that we can continue to keep the country focused on the drama of the house rather than the issues our nation faces.

    • Nicholas DeLuca

      Tom…. Avoiding reality will not change the reality ! Alas that is a characteristic of the Tea Party Ignorati.

      • Tom

        What the hell are you talking about…the point of my message was that news sources, such as Roll Call, keep reporting this petty news that is meant for those zombie reality tv show fans, rather than reporting important news. I believe that is seeking reality, right?

        • Nicholas DeLuca

          Tom…..Hardly a “petty” issue. What is accomplished when our Congressmen are bullies ? We need to know when they are acting in such a manner.

          • Tom

            If you think it is not a petty issue then you are the type of person today’s news media is targeting. Good job.

      • Progressive Republican

        Ignorati. I love that term. May I use it?

        • Nicholas DeLuca

          Indeed you may .

      • shamu9

        There ‘Dago’ Again, Making fun of their Betters! How’s that Big Nicky??

  • Mark Hancock

    As a parent of three children I remember slipping all too easily from the role of mature, objective parental “sergeant-at-arms” into one more immature child in the sandbox! I personally applaud Representative Issa for not going stark-raving mad when alleged adults so arrogantly renounce their obligations and responsibilities as public servants and ignore their oaths of office to honor the Constitution.
    (Thanks, Grumpy – below – for attempting to stay out of the sandbox; I’m afraid it’s become too crowded. I’ll refer you to: The Kindergarden of Eden, by Evan Sayet, for a very illuminating explanation of what’s going on in today’s political discourse.)

  • nought
  • DC-Comix

    Once again the media double-standard prevails. I can’t seem to find anything regarding Henry Waxman’s tirade when he was Chairman of House Oversight. A little balance might be in order. Poor Sid Yudain. On the day he is laid to rest his newspaper again butchers the term “Journalism”. You have become a liberal advocacy group now. I remember the old days here in DC and at least you tried to seem impartial.

  • betsym

    Typical teapartier, no brain or intelligence.

    • cliftonbritt

      Tea Party guy? You bet YOYO!

      • Camille Cormier

        Sell crazy and ignorant and uninformed someplace else, CLIFTON.

        • cliftonbritt

          Camille Cornier – Rush calls people like you “low information” folks. I call your type “damaged in the canal at birth” types. Sort of like homosexuals.

        • cliftonbritt

          I’ll you are one of those semi-brilliant government “workers” trying to peddle B.O. Care.

  • johnblack45john

    Say good might Gracie.

  • bittman

    Cummings pulled his stunt to take the focus off the fact that Lois Lerner had just pleaded the Fifth for the second time. Too bad he had to make it appear about race because the “racist” charge is getting so old and so overused. Since last May, the Democrats have been working hard to protect someone in the White House. The IRS’s abuse must be stopped now or no American will be safe in the future.

  • jkoates

    There are some pitiful Democrat bloggers on here. But they fit the pattern we have been seeing. Glad you asked! Artfully lying in an academic way and skillfully obfuscating all subjects. Fewer are now taken into their web of deceit and they are in panic mode over the coming elections. Cummings was show boating and Issa did the right thing. No apology was necessary for a theatrical temper tantrum.

  • ExVariable

    Standing for justice, by standing against the injustice of plunder, in no way implies that one regards advancement of the less fortunate as an unworthy cause.

  • Don

    The worst thing, of course, was when Issa said:
    “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
    Or maybe the worst thing Issa said was:
    “I did not have sex with that woman!”
    Oh! Wait! That was B. Hussein Obama and Bill Clinton!

  • Sam Sung

    Understanding the ignorance of each of us is vital to understanding the development and benefits of morality, liberty, & civilization.


    The republican party has done itself a huge disservice by blocking the passing of the extension bill in the senate. considering that there are over 2.6 million people directly affected by this bill, they have single handedly handed the opposition party 2.6 million votes in the coming election. These people are angry and will remember which political party failed them, and had refused to help them. Many “former” republicans like myself, will not vote for their party again after this situation. The republicans have clearly demonstrated who they are working for, and it’s not for the average American. The republicans are for big business and pleasing their true constituents “their lobbyists” which support them. The American people have seen the republican party in it’s true light, and will vote their conscience in the coming election. Senator Boehner and all his reoublican cronnies best enjoy their jobs for now, because many of them will not be in office in the future.

  • pansycritter

    Of course no mention is made of the bigoted, partisan way Cummings has handled himself. Cummings, the man that yelled”n—-” in the crowd, a proven liar, has the right to his classless actions, he’s a Democrat!

  • pansycritter

    Cummings deserved to be cut off. he’s just trying to keep Learner quiet so she won’t mention his involvement.

  • neoconderson

    And now, two months later, who even remembers what Issa did here? Now we’re talking about how Cummings himself coordinated with Lerner in the unfair targeting of conservative groups, and all his bluster was meant as a distraction from that. Now Lerner is in contempt of Congress. Issa’s so-called “antics” pale in comparison with the systemic corruption on the other side of the aisle.

  • Ziad K Abdelnour

    There is a
    lot of hidden messaging and programming coming from the left and right
    of the political spectrum. We are living in “Spin City” where the
    message is easier to swallow and minds harder to change and influence
    than ever.
    Ziad K Abdelnour

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