Washington Sketch: Senate Finance Panel Is Too Much Hot Air, Not Enough Deep Breathing

By Dana Milbank
Friday, September 25, 2009

It sounded as if it were time for Jon Kyl's nap.

The second-ranking Senate Republican was speaking to his fellow Finance Committee members about an amendment to the health-care bill Thursday morning when he suddenly started shouting at his colleagues. "We don't believe in a massive government takeover!" the Arizonan bellowed.

After several minutes, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) tried, gently, to interrupt. "Senator? Senator? You made your point."

Kyl ignored him. "Let me complete my thought here," he growled.

"In about one minute you'll complete your thought, okay?" Baucus urged.

"I'll complete my thought -- and make another point," Kyl retorted.

"You're delaying, Senator," the chairman pointed out.

"Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying. I'm making an extremely important point."

Baucus spoke as if to a child. "It's a very, very important point, but you're also delaying," he said. "Other senators have amendments they wish to offer. Go ahead, complete your thought, then I'm going to have to recognize the other senators, to be courteous to other senators."

Kyl pounded the table. "It's courteous if you don't interrupt somebody right in the middle of a sentence of an important point they're trying to make," he yelled.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had a recommendation: "Maybe it would be good for all of us to take a deep breath."

But it will require more than breathing exercises to calm the anger on Capitol Hill. Chalk it up to ACORN season.

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