Black caucus wants Issa stripped of committee chairmanship

House Democrats on Thursday slammed Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), calling his decision to abruptly end a hearing he was leading “disrespectful” and “outrageous” and calling on Republican leadership to strip him on his committee chairmanship. But, the House's top Republican said he will continue to stand by Issa.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) faces off with ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) after former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner once again refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing. (The Washington Post)

In a strongly worded letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the Congressional Black Caucus lashed out at Issa, who on Wednesday halted a hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee without allowing any Democrats to speak.

"Mr. Issa is a disgrace and should not be allowed to continue in a leadership role," wrote Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, in the letter to Boehner.

The Wednesday hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting controversy  quickly turned tense. When former IRS official Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right and declined to testify, Issa adjourned the meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The panel’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), asked that the hearing be continued so he could speak, but Issa refused and had Cummings's microphone cut off. Republicans on the panel, led by Issa, then walked out of the room while the Maryland congressman continued to speak.

Cummings told reporters on Thursday that several Republican members of the committee have since apologized to him for Issa’s conduct.

But Boehner defended Issa’s actions during his weekly news briefing, saying that the California congressman was not out of line to cut off Cummings’ microphone and walk out.

"He was within his rights to do what he did," Boehner said, later adding: “Darrell Issa is the chairman, he’s done an effective job as chairman and I support him.”

House Democrats also attempted Thursday to introduce a resolution condemning Issa's behavior at the hearing and have called on him to issue a public apology to Cummings. However, in a party-line vote, the House tabled the resolution. As of early this afternoon, spokespeople for Issa had not responded to requests for comment.

That CBC’s outrage was echoed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who told reporters at her weekly press briefing that Issa’s behavior toward Cummings was disrespectful.

“I can’t see how Republicans wouldn’t be running…to disassociate themselves from such behavior,” she said. “You would think they would be heading to the hills.”

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

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