It happens rarely, but on Wednesday a member of Congress was sent to the congressional penalty box.
Speaking on the House floor during debate over jobs legislation (which you can watch here), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) accused House Republican leaders of stealing the idea for a bill introduced by Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and permitting Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) to introduce a similar proposal.
“Apparently the Republican leadership decided it was Christmas in March,” Frank said.
“I have been here for 31 years,” said Frank, who plans to retire after his current term. “I am about not to be here anymore. I have thought very much about what I am about to say. That’s shameful. Shameful on the part of the Republican leadership that engaged in this cheap maneuver. Shameful on the part of a member who would be the beneficiary of it. I am deeply disappointed.”
Those comments angered Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), who accused Democrats of being upset for not getting credit for the idea.
And that just upset Frank even more.
“It is they who engage in this credit-grabbing,” he said, later calling Hensarling’s comments the “most hypocritical and dishonest statement I have heard in this House.”
With that, Hensarling asked that Frank’s words be taken out of the congressional record. After several minutes, the request was granted, and Frank was ordered not to speak on the House floor for the remainder of the day.
Though the practice of removing a member’s statements is rare in modern history, it occurred frequently in the 1930s and 1940s, especially when lawmakers would question each other’s patriotism.
For example, on Sept. 5, 1940, Rep. Clare E. Hoffman (R-Mich.) asked that the House expunge statements made the previous day by Rep. Beverly M. Vincent (D-Ky.), who had questioned the patriotism of Rep. Martin L. Sweeney (D-Ohio). The House agreed to the resolution.
Vincent not only questioned Sweeney’s patriotism, but also physically struck him while the two debated conscription issues on the House floor.
Thankfully, Wednesday’s exchanges between Frank and Hensarling involved only words.
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost
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