Rep. Hank Johnson on helium debate: ‘Imagine a world without balloons’ (VIDEO)

April 26, 2013

The man who once worried about the island of Guam capsizing is back at it.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) on Thursday offered a stemwinder of a speech in favor of the helium legislation before the House this week. But the real purpose of his speech was to sarcastically attack Republicans for spending two days debating helium legislation rather than other important issues.

"Imagine, Mr. Speaker, a world without balloons," Johnson said. "How can we make sure that the injustice of there being no helium for comedians to get that high-pitched voice that we all hold near and dear to our hearts."

Johnson continued: "Too often lately, this body has sat deflated -- not for lack of hot air, mind you. But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, unlike a noble element, this House has failed to act on Americans' real concerns."

Johnson concluded: "I'd like to float a simple idea: Stop wasting out time. Let's get to the business that is meaningful for Americans.

Johnson spokesman Andy Phelan confirms the congressman was speaking in jest.

"He was emphasizing the fact that the Republican-led House was taking 2 days to pass a non-controversial bill while they should be working on more important issues such as creating jobs, fixing the sequester and on budget issues," Phelan said.

Johnson in 2010 expressed concern at a hearing that the planned military buildup on the island of Guam might force it to tip over. Johnson later said he was speaking metaphorically about the population increase's effect on infrastructure and the ecosystem.

For more on the helium debate, see David A. Fahrenthold's story.

Updated at 2:46 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | April 26, 2013